Sometimes sales is all about keeping that we furnace of hope inside lit. Sure, you need more than hope. But without it, things can be harder.
Hope keeps things in perspective, always reminding you that what you are seeking to achieve can be achieved. There are lots of mental and psychological techniques, which help in this regard but often the simplest one is to just remember an experience where you defied the odds.
In Gordon’s case, he had a sale that he’d always remember no matter how down he got when things were going against him.
Gordon was my team-mate in a door-to-door sales team, selling membership of a book club. He was way down on his sales for the month and started to forget that anything is possible if you keep trying. I was his team manager and almost had to drag him from the car on this sodden Aberdeen morning.
“Bob, give me a break. It’s obviously not happening for me today.”
“Today? Try this month!” shouted Raymond, his high performing team-mate, unhelpfully.
I intervened. “Gordon, you can’t blank (no sales) again today.
You’re just not trying.”
“Not trying? Of course I’m trying!”
“Look, walking around the doors with a ‘poor me’ face on is not trying. That’s just killing time.”
Raymond sensed another opportunity to berate Gordon.
“Wasting time, more like!”
I gave Raymond the old you’re not helping look. I got out the driver’s door and opened Gordon’s door.
“C’mon, you’ve only got one street left to do here. You’ll not get any sales in the car.”
Gordon got out and looked at me like he was a lamb being led to slaughter. My plan was to drop off the others first then come back and give him some one-to-one training without the others continuing their merciless assault on his fragile psyche.
Gordon was now four sales behind Raymond for the month and there was only an hour to go on this the last day of the month.
Raymond was cute enough to know that making a fool of Gordon would de-motivate him and ensure that he, Raymond, would win this month’s team prize.
I dropped of the others and came back. Gordon was sitting on a wall, dangling his legs, making him resemble an unwanted puppet. I got out the car.
“Wild guess – you haven’t knocked on a single door since I left you, right?” He nodded.
“Right, c’mon then,” I said.
We approached this last remaining cul-de-sac. I’d been having a great few months so it never occurred to me that we wouldn’t get a sale or two. And I knew that because I expected sales, that this rubbed off on the prospects I was selling to. They sort of sensed they would be the sale. That’s how it is when it’s all going swimmingly.
However, after knocking on nine of the 10 doors, we’d not spoken to anyone. They were all out. And this was not the kind of lesson that would inspire Gordon’s return to form. Gordon wanted to call it a day. But, discipline dictated that we march on to the very last door. At least, I marched. Gordon almost crawled behind me. I knocked on the door, now, hoping like hell we’d get someone in. The door opened. It was a young girl. She shouted inside that two men were here. Lots of giggling ensued and what must have been her mother’s voice shouted playfully, “What are you waiting for then, show them in!”
There was lots of laughter. Gordon and I trooped through to the living room and there was just about everyone wife and mother from the cul-de-sac sitting around with kids running everywhere. Then the woman of the house stood up and said, “Okay, so what are you selling us today, lads?”
Gordon looked at me with the same grateful eyes a child would show Santa on Christmas morning. Without waiting for me to say anything he simply said: “Book Club membership. So, what do you all read?”
We walked out of there with five sales. We found Raymond, Pat and Danny all slouching on the car. They’d finished their streets and found their way to us having gotten tired of waiting.
“That’s right, keep us all waiting on the last day of the month,” shouted Raymond, still comfortable that he’d won the monthly prize. “Oh, look, the little runt must have actually gotten a sale!”
Raymond noticed Gordon with the membership forms sticking out his folder. As Gordon got nearer, he took them out and shouted, “try five!”
Gordon won the monthly prize. More importantly, he had given himself a wee memory that, whenever things seemed hopeless again, he could conjure up at will. Experienced people will always make the most of their experience.
By Bob Smith who has worked in sales for more than 30 years, works as an experienced recruiter, trainer and motivator and is also a published author of both children’s and adult titles.