The Fear and Joy of Sales

I’ve always shied away from anything related to sales. Even as a kid, I dreaded  school fundraisers, little league raffles, oh for Pete’s sake – even trick or treating. If it came down to asking a stranger for something they have in exchange for a service or as a generous gesture — I froze, felt embarrassed – shame even! I’m sure there are many people who feel the same. But, the thing that made my behavior make me feel like an odd ball was that most of my family were small business owners! My dad owned several grocery stores (or bodegas) in Brooklyn. My mom would cater for several families and businesses around the neighborhood. As kids, we were all expected to pitch in to the family business, and we were happy, felt proud, and truly enjoyed doing what we were asked.

So, why would I feel so lost as an adult? The answer was simple, F-E-A-R! What if a lead said “NO!”; what if they don’t like me?; what if my research was flawed and my product is not what I claimed it was? All these questions, anxiety, and doubt racing across my thoughts. I’ve always been aware of my self-doubts, insecurities, and uncertainties when it came to ANYTHING sales.

Og Mandino
Og Mandino. Author of The Greatest Salesman on Earth.

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered the self-help genre. I do remember spending evenings and weekends in the library. I combed through dozens of titles – each one seemed more interesting than the other. I was hooked! Since early adulthood, these books have been my go-to whenever I’m at a crossroad. Recently, I read “The Greatest Salesman on Earth” by Og Mandino. And while I’ll leave a detailed review for another blog, he weaved his story masterfully between his skills, fiction, and faith.

Of the many quotes and “instructions” throughout the book that resonated and caused a flood of childhood memories, it was this one that made me pause:

“Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better… or quit. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward; turn away from them, avoid them, and you throw away your future.”

― Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

I may not know exactly what Mr. Mandino intended to convey, I can only describe what it meant to me. You see, rejection, failure, push-back were things I always interpreted as endings to a short story – the sale. But, I was SO wrong. Put in the proper context these are but plot twists and depth a novel – my SUCCESS!

So the next time you’re pitching a product or service and your customer pushes back or tells you about the many reasons they shouldn’t buy, or just reply with a curt “NO!”. Embrace the experience! You’ve been given an opportunity to tighten your presentation and sharpen your skills for the next opportunity around the corner.

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