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Archive for the “Rejection” Category

I’m a member of the International Wizard of Oz Club. (That’s only one of my eccentric personal hobbies.) I’ve been a huge fan of the Oz books since my mother read many of them to me when I was a boy. (Most people know only L. Frank Baum’s first book, “The Wizard of Oz“, but there are actually 40 marvelous, magical, beautiful books in this series.)

I love the Cowardly Lion. He reminds me so much of me. In the movie version of “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy confronts the Cowardly Lion and tells him he is nothing but a great big coward. The Lion’s reply is:

“You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all! I even scare myself.  Look at the circles under my eyes! I haven’t slept in weeks!”

Me too. For me to be an effective executive salesman for my company Corporate Rain International I need to slay this “fear” dragon each day. One of the things I do to cope with this fear I learned many years ago from a wonderful acting teacher I had in New York named Michael Howard.

Michael Howard spoke to my acting class one day about how to begin rehearsing a new scene. What he told us was to go immediately to the most risky, scary, personal place in the scene: that place that made us feel most fearful and exposed. This might be a spot that involved physical intimacy, like kissing, violence, or nudity. Or jealousy, rage, or cowardice. By facing the most dangerous part of the scene immediately the rest of the scene became more accessible, less fraught.

How do I apply this lesson in selling to my company’s potential clients at the c-suite level? By each day immediately doing that thing I most want not to do–by immediately making that call where I have the greatest fear of rejection, where my own feelings of cosmic inadequacy might be most called out and exposed–and taking this sweaty-palmed action the first thing in the day. I act as if I had courage and confidence and thereby have it in reality. I guess it’s kind of a business version of your inner mother telling you to eat your vegetables first. For me, it works to go daily and immediately toward my most fearful task.

So go to the danger. As the Cowardly Lion so insightfully sings: “What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!” Thank you L. Frank Baum.

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Rosalind Russell once said, “Flops are part of life’s menu and I’ve never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses.”

I posted about failure and the entrepreneur last week. This week let’s consider failure and sales.  And I mean this in the most positive way. Really.

One of the accidentally formative experiences in my life was spending ten years as an actor. One of the key things an actor must learn early is dealing with rejection. An actor must accept rejection (failure) on a daily basis. He deals with constant and very personal rejection. It’s a splendid preparation for sales. Put simply, to survive my actor’s life I had to find satisfaction not in the occasional success–actually getting a role–but in the process of auditioning itself. Likewise in sales, happiness must be found in the process, as well as the results.

Rejection is a big part of the salesman’s life. My solution, and my company Corporate Rain’s solution, to dealing with this conundrum is simply to look on all interactions with potential clients as service. Every moment should be a variation on “How can I help?” This creates a tonality and a truth of caring and mutuality. It is the correct selling ambiance. And it is simply karmically efficient. Certainly long-term, reputation-based sales success is generated from many small, trust-building actions, including getting even more courteous when rejection comes, as it does much of the time in the sales process.

Earlier in my life I chanted as a Buddhist for a year. One of my favorite Buddhist prayers thanks God for challenges and failures, not successes. Thereby you learn and grow. The lotus flower is born out of the muck.

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