Local author's book sells sales

First time author Doug Robinson introduces “$ell is not a Four Letter Word.”

First time author Doug Robinson introduces “$ell is not a Four Letter Word.”

Carlton Fletcher

LEESBURG — You know how people will often say to good storytellers, "You ought to write a book?"

Doug Robinson got that. A lot.

So he did.

With a career in sales and sales management that spanned more than 40 years, the retired Leesburg sales trainer collected all the little scraps of paper containing the stories he'd saved up from his years in the business and wrote "$ell Is NOT a Four Letter Word: Earning an Above-Average Living While Maintaining Your Integrity," which he released recently on his Walnut Mountain Press imprint.

The sales manager-turned-author, who has made Dougherty and Lee counties his home base for the past 18 years, is offereing his book at a discounted price ($13.89, with free shipping) through his website www.robinsontrainingsolutions.com. "$ell" is also available at bricks-and-mortar booksellers like Books a Million and online sites such as amazon.com.

"I started selling for a company in Birmingham more than 40 years ago and moved to this area shortly after the Flood of '94," Robinson, a Louisville, Ky., native, said. "I worked in captive sales, sales management and sales training and left the work force on Feb. 11 three years ago.

"Throughout my career, I'd heard people say over and over, 'You ought to write a book.' So over the past 15 months I started gathering all the little slips of paper that I'd written things down on and putting them together. I wanted to do something different, not try to produce a training manual. This is something for the regular schmo, the guy who's out on the front lines."

Filled with what the author calls "Doug-isms," "$ell Is NOT a Four Letter Word" takes a unique approach in providing the "golden nuggets" of sales training with today's salesperson in mind. Separated into eight separate chapters (titled "Enthusing," "Essentializing," "Engaging," "Exploring," "Elaborating," "Encountering," "Executing" and "Expanding"), "$ell" includes 116 two- or three-page standalone segments that each offers a tidbit that exposes an element of the sales game.

"Most people aren't going to sit down and read a 274-page book cover to cover," Robinson said. "So I tried to make each little segment stand alone as part of the whole. If you have an appointment and are sitting in a waiting room, you can read a couple of segments and get something from each one.

"I tried to introduce each segment with a little story or joke that provides a perspective on the topic of that segment."

Much as sales had consumed him over the 40-plus years of his previous career, writing and marketing "$ell Is NOT a Four Letter Word" has become Robinson's "job" as he's sought out the various elements of a relatively small target audience.

"I came up with a lot of excuses not to do the book at first," the author said. "'An agent is expensive ...', 'I'm not a writer ...' 'No one cares what someone from South Georgia has to say ...' But once I made a commitment and completed the basic manuscript, I came up with my own publishing plan.

"I decided to self-publish the book, but even going that route they'll nickel-and-dime you to death."

Robinson got a friend at Albany Technical College to design the cover for "$ell," and his children — two of whom are school teachers — did the editing.

"Yes, I did things as cheaply as I could," he said. "But I still put thousands of dollars into this project. I've gotten a really positive response to the book so far, but right now I'm selling by addition. I need to sell by multiplication."

Robinson said he's gotten encouraging revues on "$ell Is NOT a Four Letter Word" from people who've read it, like north Georgia businessman Doug Shelburn, who said, "I'm about halfway through the book, and I have written several orders that I probably would have lost if I wasn't sharpening my skills by using the book. It has really helped me clean some of the cobwebs out of the attic."

That, Robinson says, is why he wrote "$ell."

"I knew I wasn't interested in spending another night at a Hampton Inn in Opapka," he said. "I wanted to let people know that, despite a somewhat sketchy reputation, sales can be a very rewarding career.

"But this book is important to me for another reason as well: It has my name on it. For someone who's tried to maintain a sense of integrity over a 40-year career, there's not much that's more important than that."