My first professional job was to sell heavy-duty waterless cookware. We did it on a direct sales approach, going from door to door with our presentations. It took me quite a while to make enough sales to survive. Then one day I went to a sales meeting and a man named P. C. Merrell was there. He was the visiting supervisor from Tennessee and he was talking about dinner parties, where instead of demonstrating for only one couple you would demonstrate for four or six couples, or even more.
Well, I was enthralled because the people taking that approach were selling a great deal more than I was. I determined I was going to do the same thing. The process was this: We would buy the food for the demonstration, which cost several dollars; we would book a dinner with the hostess; she would invite the guests. I was struggling financially and when you add the cost of the groceries with the premium we gave the hostess for hosting the party, every event was a financial challenge. But I knew it was the best way, so I struggled through the first few demonstrations.
Sales were poor. My costs, though comparatively small in terms of today, without having the money it became a problem. I knew the new party process made so much more sense than the old system that I sweated it out and continued. The bottom line is the next year I was the number two salesman in an organization of 7,000 sales people. I had started by doing something poorly, but could see the results others were getting. I was confident that if I continued to learn and I hung in there, I would get better results.
The bottom line is not only did I succeed in that program dramatically more than in the old one, I got recognition as well and was promoted the next year to the best field position the company had. Two years later, having learned my lesson early, I became the youngest divisional supervisor in the 66-year history of the company. Yes, it's absolutely true that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly-until you can learn to do it well.