TERRY

For December, I'm reading the classic tale: "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens. Oddly, I can't remember ever reading it, though I've seen countless versions made for TV and movies. It's fantastic, just like most books are that have been made into movies. Dickens is a superb writer, and there is a reason this is a "classic."

While reading this, it reminded me of an encounter I had that was a chilling reminder of the bad "Ghost of Christmas Future" I narrowly avoided all those years ago. Here's what happened:

I was on my way to work with a new client one day when I stopped at Starbucks for a cup of coffee. As I stood in line, I glanced out the window and saw a city bus stop and a bunch of people got off. One guy - mid 40's, tall and lanky - started walking towards the Starbucks, and there was something about the way he was walking that was familiar to me.

When he entered the store, I recognized him from many years before when we were both struggling inside sales reps trying to sell investments over the phone. His name was Brad. After I got my coffee, and he got his, he came up to me and said, "You're Mike, right?" "Yes" I said. "Hey, we used to work together!" he said. "I remember," I said.

He asked me what I was up to these days, and I told him I had become a consultant in inside sales, and that I was off to work with a new client. I asked him what he was up to and this is when the chill hit me. He said he was starting a new sales job today, and then he rolled his eyes as if to say, "And this one will suck, too."

We walked out of the store together, and said goodbye and went our separate ways. He went to wait at the next bus bench, and I got into my Mercedes and drove away.

As I sipped my coffee and listened to the tunes in my plush car, I thought about how different our lives had turned out and wondered what happened to make them so different. As I did, I knew exactly what it was.

During our time together, the owners of the company brought in a sales trainer, a guy named Stan Billue, to motivate us. Stan spoke to us for an hour about what makes the difference between the top money earners in sales versus all the other sales reps.

He said that you have a choice to either commit to learning and using proven scripts and sales techniques that would double or triple your income, or you would just keep doing what you were doing (ad-libbing), and then you'd just keep getting what you had been getting.

Stan said: "If you are willing to do what most sales reps aren't willing to do, then soon you'll be able to enjoy the things, the lifestyle, and the future that most sales reps will never be able to enjoy."

I was sold. Brad wasn't.

I invested in Stan's cassette series, "Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone." I committed to learning, practicing, and doing what he suggested. My sales and income soared.

Brad thought what Stan taught was just a bunch of old sales techniques that wouldn't work for him.

Brad thought he knew better.

Brad didn't believe in using scripts.

"I'll sound like a telemarkerter," he said. "I have to go with the flow because each prospect is different," he persisted.

Brad didn't believe in putting in the time, energy or money to get better.

So he didn't.

Fast forward to our Starbucks encounter. Over 20 years had passed between that Stan Billue talk, and I realized, that seminar was the moment I made the decision to change my life.

When Brad showed up that day, he was the Ghost of Christmas Past that could have become my Ghost of Christmas Future.

My life has changed because of Stan's material, my commitment to investing in other sales material, and then learning and using it diligently. My life is infinitely better because I did, and I have no doubt that had I not invested, learned and used proven selling techniques, it would have been me that was taking a bus to my next, new job.

It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

The moral here is that you, too, can avoid the Ghost of Christmas Past from becoming your future. There are a lot of great sales training books, CD's, and courses you and your team can take advantage of to get better.

So why not give yourself a gift this season? Make this best holiday season you've ever had. Invest in yourself!