Give up. That’s right, give up. Every day. It’s not a bad thing to do before you begin your sales day. Have no hopes and no concupiscent desired expectations. Just begin to work. Here’s why. It makes you a free man. It keeps you in the present. It gives you license to be real. It allows the unexpected to occur. It makes the world funny and a delight. It imbues you with spontaneity and focus.
In Forbes Magazine, sports shrink Bob Rotella advises athletes to be like Manny Ramirez when he was with the Boston Red Sox, who famously said before the World Series that he didn’t care if he won or lost, that it wasn’t the end of the world. Ramirez took a lot of heat for his statement, but Rotella says Ramirez’ statement is insightful in that it showed his understanding of the need for relaxation and for being present in the moment for maximal focus and athletic achievement.
Sales is one of the least predictable and controllable of business functions. Success in sales is a result of many intangibles. It is not like analyzing a spread sheet. Successful sales come from instinctive, almost primitive, attributes among its quality practitioners. Perhaps a combination of charm, real caring for and sensitivity to other people, and a fierce, even vulpine, push for a final closing. These paradoxical qualities must exist simultaneously in a master salesman.
I know there is an army of sales experts out there who disagree with me. Their sales systems are legion and variegated. They all probably can work. But, unlike many other vocations, sales does not lend itself to iron control. If you’re a control freak, sales ain’t for you.
It can be overwhelming to sit down to a new sales or business development project. To create something out of nothing. To aggressively start to fill in a tabula rasa. It is an act of faith. Yet if you begin, the work takes its own form.
Spontaneity, though, can make sales such fun–a joy, a revelation. Even in rejection. And rejection will be the major result of most of any salesman’s efforts. (At least it is of mine.)
Per this, I remember the year I started my executive sales outsourcing company, Corporate Rain International, over sixteen years ago. A client in Atlanta was particularly keen to meet with the CMO of a company then called HBOC (now part of McKesson). I was determined to make this happen. Over six months I must have called and emailed this woman well over fifty times. No response. Finally, one morning I sat down at my desk, picked up the phone, called a final time and told this CMO, “If you don’t call me back today, I’m going to kill myself.” She did! With great laughter. We then had a lovely chat and she then rejected my pitch for a meeting. Oh well. Yet it was a fun interaction and not an ineffective sales process, despite my failure.
Good things do happen if you create space for spontaneity, for freedom, for truth, for humor, for joy. Spontaneity allows for the non-rational to happen. Spontaneity is its own reward. It allows for miracles.
Many years ago I remember a song called “Greyhound” written by folk singer Harry Chapin. It’s a melancholy recounting of Mr. Chapin’s accidentally bumping into an old girlfriend while driving his cab and a wistful conjecture on the choices we make in life. But I remember the last line of the song well. That line is, “It’s got to be the goin’, not the gettin’ there that’s good.”
Well said, Harry. Thank you.