Whether you’re convincing a group to adopt an idea, you’re an entrepreneur taking your product to market, or you’re dating a new person, we’re all always selling. We sell our thoughts, a belief, a product or ourselves. How we view it and what we choose to get out of it will make all the difference.
I wasn’t a born salesperson. The thought of walking up to people and asking them to buy something that would benefit me and my pocket book? Shudder.
But when I saw what was on the other side of selling… Achievement, masterful negotiation, lifestyle, shared experiences others wouldn’t have tried, growth… I wanted to at least try. I wanted to put myself out there, even if it meant I had to push the shaking and the fear down and know the real possibility of rejection was on the other side.
And guess what? It was hard at first. I sucked at it. I doubted myself and chickened out numerous times. But no matter how brilliant and experienced you are in sales (…or rallying support for your opinions or raising money…), there are many times you’ll strike out. That’s part of the carrot that keeps you striving for better.
Developing thick skin is tough. Callouses don’t come from being coddled. Resilience builds from getting your ass kicked and wanting something bad enough that you wipe off the dirt, get back up and ask to get kicked in the face again. Aren’t we always looking for that next mountain to climb because it makes us better? We do because the feeling we get when we hit that summit was worth every painful step. Every time we defied the “I can’t” voice and went a bit further than we thought we could, something in us came alive stronger. Character isn’t built by living the easy life.
Over time, I learned to love it. I loved what it did for me; how it challenged me, how it made me question and look at life and situations. I learned about people; what made them tick, how to be a better friend, daughter, life partner, leader. It taught me how to give without expectation; to serve, to believe that by exerting pure and honest intention to another, I could trust the universe would be on my side and end in my favor. Yes, we’re still talking about sales.
Sales is the most powerful vehicle for self-development, for facing your inner fears and demons, for putting yourself out there, for testing your tenacity, for being inspired to go for audacious goals that make your skin feel electrified and your heart race. Sales success doesn’t come from sitting in a dark corner of the couch and wishing. It’s built from boldly trying something we aren’t sure we can do, doing it anyway, and then realizing we can….And then waking up again to do it the next day.
Am I still fearful? Does it still get uncomfortable? Yes. Sometimes I walk into a sales situation and I still get nervous, my blood pulses and I feel tongue-tied. I mess up, but the world somehow keeps turning. And success and sales still happen in spite of my bobbles and missteps. Like hitting a golf ball, it becomes an addiction to swing better the next time. Facing your fear regularly makes it become less and less scary over time.
Do I always win? Do I always have to win? No. But you sure as hell learn how to fall down properly.
Falling is where you learn…About yourself, how you recover, how to stand up again. But part of failure is learning how to fail and what to take from it. I take knocks on a regular basis. Sure it’s less frequent, and at this point, my recovery time is nothing. Those “no’s” just become fuel to figure out a better way. The rejection stings become battle scars that showed I tried and that I cared enough to go for something. There’s been no greater teacher than doing something that didn’t work, readjusting and then triumphantly succeeding the next time. Failure stops being personal and more a roadmap of how to improve.
The first time I went skiing was a traumatic experience. Starting with a lesson, the instructor was exasperated with my need to take off too fast, and not follow the rest of the group. I caught on quick and got flippant. I didn’t learn how to fall. I ventured off with a guy who took me on a medium slope I wasn’t prepared for, speeding wildly down a sharply curved hill. I couldn’t turn fast enough facing two choices: Fall down or fly over a lethal cliff. And I didn’t know how to fall. As I tried to topple, I couldn’t pop out of my bindings, down I went… I resisted and my knee went left with a loud pop. I was done. My knee can still tell you when it’s getting ready to rain. You’ve got to learn how to fall.
I’m completely aware of my imperfection. But that doesn’t stop me. Sales has taught me I can succeed in spite of that, and in a sense has made me more comfortable in my own skin. Yet the next carrot still remains overhead, and I always have something new and better to strive for. What a great lesson… Being comfortable with who you are yet wanting to become more. Isn’t that the holy grail formula?
I hope you choose to sell. It will make you better. I hope you embrace it and let it be your path for growth. You’ll be surprised what amazing things happen as you walk down that road. Every day is a crash course in human relations, persuasion, connection and discovery.
Over the next months, I’ll be digging deeper into this passion and sharing the learnings I’ve gotten and how anyone can apply them to life….How anyone can be a salesperson.
What has been your greatest lesson from sales?
Making sales in my old high-end dog boutique with a pro-basketball player’s wife.