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sales Legend

Jim Steele of Salesforce

Supersizing Deals While Staying Humble.

“I was the Rupert Murdoch of the suburbs,” he says, describing the paper-route empire he grew from 25 households at age 11 to 125 households three-and-a-half years later.

His motivation was earning enough to buy his own clothes instead of being stuck with hand-me-downs from his older cousins and siblings. But he gained more than just financial independence. He learned the power of growing a sales territory. “It was my first real taste of business and the realization that the bigger I grew my territory, the more money I would make.”

You have to build a bond with customers that will survive the ups and downs that always happen in a relationship. You want your customer to be emotionally connected to you and want you to win. That comes from being humble and hungry

That’s not all – Jim became his family’s banker. His parents borrowed money to help pay for the groceries to feed a family of nine, and his siblings borrowed money for school lunches. “It was gratifying being able to do that for my family,” he says.

His genuine desire to help others and insight into human nature have also been key to Jim’s success in sales. During his 42-year career, he’s traveled the world and come to appreciate the importance of bonding with customers in order to close deals. “You have to build a bond with customers that will survive the ups and downs that always happen in a relationship. You want your customer to be emotionally connected to you and want you to win. That comes from being humble and hungry,” says Jim.

Some of Jim’s other keys to success:

  • Cultivating a maniacal obsession for customer success. Everything from listening to the customer to never taking customers for granted marks Jim’s commitment to being customer-focused.
  • Thinking big. Jim believes many salespeople think too small and need to approach big deals as game-changing opportunities.
  • Adapting to the culture. Whether it’s about respecting the customs in an Asian country or going from wearing suits and ties at IBM to Hawaiian shirts at Salesforce, Jim gets the importance of fitting in.