Monday, June 23, 2008

Michael Dell on generating sales leads

I found this great Michael Dell story in "Lessons Learned: Starting a Business." In case you thought his success with Dell Computers was a complete accident, read this:

The first job I got when I could actually drive...was with the Houston Post newspaper. My job was to call people on the telephone and convince them to buy the newspaper. The first partial month I worked there, I figured out that when people wanted to buy the newspaper, either they were moving into a new house or an apartment, or they had just gotten married.

The way to find people who'd just gotten married was to go to the county courthouse. They have the applications for marriage licenses, which are a matter of public record in the state of Texas. And there is a place on the application form where you could request the license be sent. So that turned out to be a really good place to find people to whom I could send an offer to get the newspaper.

The other thing I found was that you could actually get lists of people who had applied for and received mortgages. And that was another great list of people. My first full month at the paper, I was the top salesperson of newspapers, and I had a great time. This was a summer job. I started hiring my friends and sending them out to all the surrounding counties to collect all these lists of people who had applied for marriage licenses and just had a blast. I was sixteen years old. I saved my money and bought a BMW.

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Press. Excerpted from Lessons Learned: Straight Talk from the World’s Top Business Leaders--Starting a Business. Copyright (c) 2008 Fifty Lessons Limited; All Rights Reserved.

For more information about the "Lessons Learned" series, including a showcase of 50 Lessons video stories, please follow this link.

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