What You Can Learn About Sales From Walt Disney

When it comes to entrepreneurial spirit, most agree it’s something that Walt Disney, the founder of Walt Disney Company, had in spades. 

And, when it came to the “sales game” he paved the way for many of the philosophies and methodologies we find so very useful today. Risk tolerance, value selling, dealing with failure—these, and many other critical concepts, were things that Walt Disney had mastered, and any young sales enthusiast today would be wise to pick up on…

Let’s start with leadership qualities for the salesperson, shall we? When it comes to sales, you can know—and be capable—of a lot, but no single person can handle it all. Disney knew this, which is why he was so keen on hiring talented people who could fill the gaps in his own skillset. What’s more, Disney had a talent for motivating those talents toward a shared purpose and helping them rise to their personal potential.

So, knowing the value of teamwork is critical, but that’s not all that Disney did to put himself ahead. Coupled with that focus on working as a team was a clear vision of what the team was trying to achieve. In the eyes of Disney, it was imperative to give the customer more than what was expected—to go above and beyond to provide a customer experience steeped in the philosophy of value-added selling.

It’s something that you can experience today should you ever visit a Disney theme park—they’ll routinely go above and beyond to fix an issue and ensure that you’re having a pleasant stay—and it’s something that you should be making routine in your own customer experiences if you want to knock it out the park as a business or sales team.

You’ll need to closely examine the customer perspective in your own business to look for areas where you can improve, go beyond what’s expected, and really start wowing clientele. For that, you’ll need to embrace another one of Disney’s unique qualities—a relationship with failure.

Now, to fail is both human and routine. It’s the byproduct of taking risks (another thing that Walt Disney was well known for). The trick, however, is to learn how to respond to failure in the right way. When Disney’s first studio failed, he lost almost everything. But instead of packing it up and calling it quits, he used it as a learning opportunity.

By employing a little technique we now call “failure analysis,” Walt Disney was able to get to the core issues surrounding his initial failures, then take steps to avoid those pitfalls on the second go-round. His result? Success on a rather grand scale. Focus that same type of energy on your customer-facing processes. When things go wrong, ask “why,” and get the information you need to improve things so they don’t happen again.

And this brings us to our final point you can learn from Disney. That high ceiling that Disney set for his business ventures and customer interactions? He knew that it could always get a little higher, and challenged both himself and his team to reach those heights. Remember to stay striving for improvements, and you’ll see your sales rise with effort.

Kevin Thompson