Tall Sales

Dizzying, Isn't It?

Gaynor is an entrepreneur determined to rise to the top of his industry. And it's hard to argue that he won't. TNG, which now has more than 230 loyal and enthusiastic employees, is growing by 30 percent each year in an industry that usually sees 2 percent growth.

"We don't call customers," brags corporate trainer Frank Knight. "They call us--with huge orders. It's like they can't spend enough. They apologize when they have small orders--they feel they aren't living up to [our] expectations."

So how can you achieve all that? In a way, it begins with a bet. But most of all, it begins inside the sales machine.

The Sales Machine

It's a big machine. Gaynor's warehouse holds 10,000 items, from nail polish to tanning beds. On a typical day, TNG ships out up to 15,000 items worldwide. Roughly 50 sales staffers sway minds on telephones, telling incoming callers that if they just buy a little more, they'll save a little more. They offer more good deals than Monty Hall. Meanwhile, about 25 salespeople make deals out in the field, persuading salon owners nationwide to carry nothing (or almost nothing) but Nailco.

One of those salespeople is indoor tanning director Dave Folsom. With his crew cut and tall frame, he looks like a cross between a military instructor and a gym coach. He's one of TNG's elite. "I like [TNG's] leadership, the management. We've got good commanders," says Folsom, who likens TNG's sales instruction to basic training (and he should know: He's also a military policeman in the reserves). "We attack, and we attack in full force."

But for all the people running the sales machine, something's got to fuel it. And that formula is Gaynor-designed:
* A sales-enthusiastic culture.
* A learning-friendly environment.
* Incredible customer service.

"We don't call customers. They call us--with huge orders. It's like they can't spend enough."

The recipe is deceptively simple, but the cooking process is anything but. Almost as soon as new employees arrive, they're introduced to the TNG culture. Explains Maureen Mann, vice president of sales for the Industry Source division, "You have to want to play on the team, and you have to want to win."

Gaynor has wanted to win ever since he was 10 years old, working in his dad's hardware store in Detroit. Even in high school, Gaynor worked weekends and evenings, missing the chance to play in sports. An armchair psychologist might suggest that's why Gaynor acts more like the fired-up, beloved coach of a high school football team than a CEO.

TNG has "school colors"--purple and white. Especially purple. It colors the walls, carpet, cubicles, chairs, tables, pens, files and folders. The building's exterior features a prominent purple stripe. Numerous pennants, emblazoned with "TNG Rebels," decorate the place. And how many businesses do you know with their own fight song? At quarterly meetings, you'll find TNG cheerleaders and a Rebel mascot (played by Folsom), and at annual meetings, a real high school marching band. Working at TNG is one big pep rally.

That's the idea. It's hard to be excited about selling for your company if you hate your job. And how could you not like working here? Gaynor and his wife, Teresa, TNG's vice president, host two barbecues per year for the staff, and Gaynor routinely passes out $100 bills at quarterly meetings. TNG occasionally caters lavish lunches for employees, and there's always free soda in the lunch rooms.

Says Anne Schultz, one of TNG's top sellers, "Every day I come to work in a good mood."

Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the August 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tall Sales.

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