Lee Iaccoca: You May Change Careers But Perfect Your Craft

As part of his first experiences at Ford, Lee worked on an assembly line where he attached a cap to a harness inside a Ford truck repeatedly…over and over again. The work was not difficult but it was extremely boring. Soon, Lee discovered that engineering no longer interested him. When tasked with drafting a new design for a clutch spring, Iacocca lost all motivation, so he asked to be transferred to sales or marketing. The transition was not easy because Iacocca had to secure the role through his own perseverance. Finally he got a sales role in Chester, Pennsylvania.

According to Iacocca, learning the skills of salesmanship takes time and effort, you have to practice those skills over and over again. Motivation is key. Expect to make mistakes along the way. Sales required time, effort and diligent practice until it becomes second nature. Only through exhaustive practice can a good salesman succeed. There are no naturals in sales. You need to qualify a buyer, which means asking the right questions that might lead to a sale. Most customers do not know what they want, and the sales reps role is to help them figure that out. You need to understand who the car is for in their family and who else is driving it? The most important lesson Iacocca learnt was from his manager in Chester, which was to “make money, screw everything else.” Mistakes are a part of on the job training; they cannot be avoided, but you have to hope that they won’t be too expensive and that you won’t make the same mistake twice. Always own up to your mistakes whenever you make them.

This is a synopsis & analysis based on Iacocca: An Autobiography and other miscellaneous research sources. Enjoy.

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