“A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing” – a classic line from Glengarry Glen Ross, a brilliant movie that captures the hyper-competitive nature of sales. When I saw this movie more than a decade ago, I was floored by the human-ness of Jack Lemmon’s fallen salesman’s character and was mesmerized by Alex Baldwin’s alpha-male sales-star character. But I digress...
When I was younger, I poo-pooed sales people. In my mind, they were the hustlers, much like the characters in Glengarry Glen Ross -- the aggressive, popular guys who relied on relationships and thrived on competition to close deals. I, on the other hand, was the worker bee who actually made stuff, who had to do stuff.
So now we fast-forward 15 years, and wow... I have gained a DEEP, DEEP appreciation for the art of sales. As an entrepreneur I find myself ALWAYS selling (maybe not selling real estate as in the movie) but I am always selling an idea, an opportunity -- to customers, to bloggers, to investors, to media, to my employees, to PR firms. If you have a heartbeat, I’m selling to you, one way or another.
Needless to say, this has not been an easy transition for me. First, rejection is hard to get used to. I’ve always tried to protect myself from failure and rejection. Just the thought that someone may not like me or my ideas is very difficult for me to accept. Initially, this paralyzing fear of rejection prevented me from soliciting people for anything (money, advice, help, etc.). I couched everything with a caveat and gave everyone an easy out: “My company is still very young, I understand if you are not interested, it’s not a problem.”
Yes, I was a wuss. But as time went on and as I did more presentations, the more comfortable I became in selling and the less personal the rejections became. Frankly, I simply just got used to the “no’s”! And now, I just let it roll off (well, at least I REALLY try), and just move on to my next target. I’ve developed a slightly thicker skin and, with it, a little shamelessness.
Secondly, it’s a challenge to always be on message. As an entrepreneur, I am my company’s best evangelist. Which means, everything I do, say, or write reflects upon my company. So regardless of situation, every interaction is a potential sales opportunity. While it may look, sound, and feel like a tennis game, it also represents an opportunity to sell. While it may seem like a teacher appreciation luncheon, it too is a sales opportunity. People want to buy from and be associated with happy, positive people and companies -- so even when I am having a bad day, I have to be drinking my own Kool-Aid, selling.