Just do it. You have to have confidence in yourself and trust yourself and know that you can learn how to do different things.
Selling is so much about people. You have to like other people. You have to like yourself. You have to have good communication skills. Selling is so much about relationships and liking other people. You have to learn specific sales skills as you get going.
Empower people. People tend to be afraid to make decisions, and they want to come to their boss and ask, ‘What should I do, what about this or what about that?’ Our approach is if they don’t have enough information to make the decision, lead them in the direction of what else they need to learn to be able to make the decision and sort of mentor or guide them.
For them to really be responsible, they have to be able to make the decisions pertaining to what they are doing. You effectively remove them from being the person in charge of that area if you come and make decisions for them.
It’s really just a matter of communication, sitting down and discussing the issues and trying to broaden the perspective enough so they are looking at it from enough angles. You’re providing them with a primer on areas that they are not that familiar with. It’s definitely a two-way communication.
Don’t make rash decisions. You’re trying to get enough information to sort out what’s going on while things are changing around you.
You hit a stretch where there are a lot more moving parts. You’re trying to get a hold of them to resolve the confusion of what you’re faced with. That’s a matter of getting good data and having good investigatory skills.
Develop an ability to not take data or reports you’re presented with at face value. You can’t just act on them. Look at them and then go out and verify the validity of what you’re presented with before you try to make decisions or act on it. A report you would get from an employee about a situation or about other employees, especially if it’s something that’s negative or critical, you can’t act on that.
You have to find out what’s true for yourself. That’s a matter of integrity. If you hang on to that, you can generally get to the bottom of it. When you do that, you can make a good decision.
Never stop learning. I just had to develop a skill of knowing how to spot-check information. You don’t have to go over every single bit of data.
You have to be able to pick out certain things that you know you can easily validate. You find things you can easily validate and then based on that, you either feel confident or see that things are not what they appear to be, and then you start digging deeper.
We’re always paying attention to the market. We get various market intelligence reports. We get sell-through reports that tell us what products are selling in the marketplace. I can get a sense of who has what market share. You get a snapshot.
Be open to change. Markets mature and develop and splinter. There’s a danger of hitting a winning formula and then going with that and riding it for a while. It’s not going to last forever.
You really have to have your finger on the pulse of the market. Have good people in the company who can go out and take readings on the market. Be willing to change and take a little risk and start heading in another direction.
Embrace diversity. I noticed something back 15 years ago when I had a couple Harleys. You can go riding with people, and being on the Harley was like the great equalizer.
You didn’t know if some guy was a welder or if he was a brain surgeon, but everyone was at the same level when they were on their Harley. I try to make it that way here.
Bob [Taylor] and I own the company. We’re here every day and we run the company. But we are all here working together, working on the same thing.
We’re working on the company’s goals and purposes and making the company’s product, and we’re each doing our own part. We have a very diverse group of people working every day.
I like that part of it way better than the opposite of, ‘Here I am, Mr. Important, in my office.’
Make employees feel appreciated. I know my feeling, and Bob’s, too, is that the management and executives can really determine the fate of the company better than anyone, and they should be paid for it.
But it’s the rank-and-file that do 90 percent of the work in the company, and they are all good people, too. Maybe they don’t have the same level of ability as a vice president, or maybe that’s just not their purpose to have a job like that. But they are decent people and they all have families, and they are the people you need to reach your hand out to and make sure you take care of them and help them.
It’s kind of a fraternal thing. Everybody gets a year-end bonus. The rank-and-file isn’t as much as the executive. But if we had a lousy year, I would make sure the rank-and-file had a year-end bonus before I would make sure the managers did.
HOW TO REACH: Taylor Guitars, www.taylorguitars.com