Q: What inspired you to start your own sales training business?
A: It was pretty much a natural progression. After working for the Dale Carnegie Organization I knew there were many things I wanted to do that I couldn't do with a big company. I wanted the ability to create customized programs based on what a company wanted. I also wanted to get into more coaching and keynote addresses which I was able to do with my own company, www.jacklitzseminars.com.
Q: What was it like working for the Dale Carnegie Organization?
A: The best business experience of my life. At 22 years old I was exposed to some of the most inspirational people in the country. I was mentored by some of the top public speakers and trainers in the industry at the time. These people were so generous with their time and advice, it was incredible. The things I learned from them, not just about speaking and training, but life, are lessons I will never forget. I cannot think of a better way to start a career then being surrounded by positive, successful people. What a blessing it was!
Q: If you could offer one piece of sales advice to our readers, what would that be?
A: Listen to your customer; they will tell you how they want to be sold. Too many of today's sales professionals think that selling is telling the customer how great their company and products are, and that couldn't be further from the truth. One of my early mentors in Dale Carnegie said, "People don't buy because they understand your product, they buy because they think you understand their needs." I tell salespeople today to spend more time understanding your customer and sales will come.
Q: You must be on the road quite a bit. What do you never leave home without?
A: I do travel quite often. However, I have been fortunate to do more and more in Missouri and even Southeast Missouri, so that has been great. But when I do travel, if I don't absolutely know I am going to need it, I don't take it. Traveling is hard enough today without having to check bags. I never check anything. If I cannot get it in a carry-on suitcase and a briefcase, I don't take it.
Q: Where is the most interesting place you've conducted a seminar?
A: I was doing a training program for a group of financial advisors at the World Trade Center in New York three days before the attack on the twin towers. I knew a lot of people who worked in that building. Fortunately they all survived, but that was pretty emotional and memorable to say the least. I was in Hawaii this last year with a group of corporate managers training them on leadership skills and that was fun. But perhaps the most interesting was recently I did a training in Cancun, Mexico, for a large hair products company, training 1,000 hair stylists on customer service.That was interesting, especially since I was one of only about 10 men at the whole meeting.
Q: I understand you specialize in new home sales training. What are your predictions for the 2010 housing market?
A: I am not real good at market trends and predictions, but I think the new home industry is about to see some good recovery. There seems to be a great deal of pent up demand. Most of my new home training has been done in California where they have really been hit hard, but it is starting to pick up there as well.
Q: After working in California, what motivated you to come back to this area?
A: I grew up in Jackson and graduated at SEMO and then moved to California, where I lived in Los Angeles for 12 years and San Francisco for 10. When our third child was born, my wife Felicia and I decided we wanted to raise the children in the midwest with midwest values. She was originally from Michigan, and my family still lived in Jackson. Every time we came back to visit family we always left saying what a great place it would be to raise a family. We moved back almost 10 years ago now and it was one of the best decisions we ever made, although I think my wife still misses the big city from time to time.
Q: Tell me about your involvement with the new Herzog baseball field in Jackson.
A: My dad and Whitey Herzog have been friends forever, having played baseball together in the Dodger organization. Whitey comes down a couple of times a year to play golf with Dad, and a few years ago he mentioned he had a foundation that raised money to help communities like ours build baseball fields. He mentioned he had some money if we thought there was a need for a new field in Jackson. Before that I had just finished helping build the new soccer park in Jackson along with a few other soccer dads and I was ready for a break. But when the opportunity came up it was something we felt we had to do for the city of Jackson and its youth. We took Whitey up on his offer and he immediately sent us a check for $25,000. Even though we have a lot still to do, I am constantly amazed at the generosity of our community. The amount of money and the donations of labor and materials we have received is absolutely incredible, especially considering the economy we are faced with now.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you're not helping people succeed in business?
A: I have three kids and am so proud of each of them. My greatest joy is watching them grow up. If I am not on the road you will find me at a volleyball game or baseball field watching my kids. Oh, and occasionally I find a little time for golf.