Smith Always Finds A Way

June 17, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — The phrase “no way” only fuels Tim Smith’s fire.

Most recently, that fire has prompted Smith to publish a book to motivate sales people.

His resume is dotted with awards, and his accomplishments since graduating from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School and Notre Dame University are impressive.

As a 24-year-old, he was named the top sales rep among 300 salespeople in his company, with his closest competitor more than 25 percent behind him.

And that was only one year out of college.

“I was on the fast track to becoming a CEO,” Smith said. “I was quickly working my way to the top and knew that was my ultimate goal. At 26 I was a sales manager, managing 10 reps, all of whom were older than me.”

So the sky was the limit, right?

Not from Smith’s point of view.

A heart-to-heart with his wife resulted in a soul-searching epiphany for the hard-charger.

Smith decided the fast track wasn’t for him and wasn’t nearly as important as family. It was at this point that they made the move from his former job in Boston to Grand Rapids.

“I gave up the title, and many people might see that as a demotion,” Smith said. “But I feel that I am actually in a better spot. Going from sales manager to sales rep has given me more interaction with clients, which is something I really enjoy.”

It also was his springboard into the world of publishing.

His book, “Loyalty-Based Selling,” recently hit bookshelves and became available across the Internet. Although the story ends happily, the road to that end was not always easy and may best be described as a learning experience.

“I had a passion to accomplish and I was compelled to get this book published,” Smith explained. “I was in part saying there is no way I will get this book published, but it will be a good learning experience. Then on the other hand I said, why not? Why shouldn’t I get this book published?”

But while Smith knew a lot about selling, he knew very little about writing a book.

And so the quest began.

Smith started by talking with Bruce Williams, host of a national talk-radio show who treated Smith much like he treated everyone else, by making him sound foolish and in the end telling Smith, “no way.”

Smith then moved on to sending his manuscript to a publishing house, but received a rejection letter a few weeks later. After calling to find out what he could do to better his manuscript, Smith learned that the publishing company was in the market for another type of book and actually didn’t even read his manuscript.

Still not willing to give up, however, Smith remembered a college roommate’s mom, a publisher of children’s books. It turned out she had a friend who had a friend … and Smith was connected with a big literary agent. But after a second consideration, Smith was again rejected.

Persevering yet again, Smith refined his manuscript, and on this third try landed a contract with the American Management Association. “If I can publish a book, anyone can publish a book,” Smith joked. “If you have a passion about something and you want to get published, you can. I found that publishers are looking for content. All the grammar and everything is secondary, and they will rip it up anyway and correct all of that.”

“Loyalty-Based Selling” was inspired by what fuels many authors: The lack of something currently on the shelves.

“I had read many books on sales and listened to many tapes,” said Smith. “After reading a book I would always ask myself, what did I learn from that and what can I take away and use in my job? Over and over again, there was nothing.”

That’s why the book features action items for sales reps to use in their day-to-day jobs. He added that he wrote the book to be a fast-paced, easy read to complement the lives of sales reps. “I know that many sales reps don’t have a lot of time to sit and read a book. This book will take them through the steps to change their sales position, and do it in a fast manner and in a way where it can also be used as a reference guide.”

“Loyalty-Based Selling” highlights the principles Smith evoked early in his career, ones he didn’t realize at the time were different from the approach other sales reps were taking. “The common approach many sales reps take is to go out and immediately start recruiting new business, and while they are recruiting, the old business slips out the back door,” Smith explained. “I decided to strengthen the relationships with my current clients, that way sealing my back door and in turn, allowing me more time to spend recruiting new business — which turned into all positive growth.”

Smith stresses loyalty in his book because he believes it is a hot topic and one that should be on the minds of all sales reps. The book begins by introducing the reader to the “Magic Formula”: 7 - 0 = 1, or Seven Magic Steps minus zero lost customers, equals No. 1 sales rep. From there, the reader is taken through the seven steps, and in the end has a new formula with which to attack his or her own selling method.

Smith also recently completed a story for an upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul book, called “Chicken Soup For the Entrepreneur’s Soul.” But for now, Smith is busy with family and a full-time sales job, and in his spare time, is promoting his sales book across the country.

He said he will think of writing a second book after the publicity for this one is over and he has time to take a breath.

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