Are Salespeople Insane?


Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

When I started in sales a friend of mine, who knew me to be quiet and reserved in social settings asked if I thought salespeople were born or if it was a learned skill.  As I look back on that moment I realize he asked me that because he felt that I wasn’t necessarily cut out to be a great salesperson and over the years I’ve had similar conversations with people who know me well.  You see I don’t come across as your typical salesperson, or at least not what a lot of people who aren’t in sales automatically associate with great salespeople.  I’m not out going, I’m not boisterous, I don’t draw attention to myself and I’m not the kind of person who is comfortable walking up to a total stranger to start talking to them about a product or service I think they might like or need.

I answered that person, and anyone else who asks similar questions, that in my case at least sales is a learned skill.  It is a skill that I have developed as I have learned about relationship building, deep product knowledge, and value creation.  In short I have learned to position myself as a resident expert on the topic at hand.  As the title of one of the chapters in the best selling “Selling for Dummies” puts it in reference to the sleazy ad salesman Herb Tarlek from the classic TV comedy WKRP in Cincinnati, “you don’t have to wear a plaid sports coat”.

But regardless of whether or not you are a “born” salesperson, like Herb, or a “learned” salesperson like me you do need to be a little bit crazy.  One of the Success Principles in Jack Canfield’s bestselling book by the same title is called “Ask! Ask! Ask!” another is called “Reject Rejection”.  Essentially what Canfield is saying is that in order to be successful you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results otherwise you’ll give up too soon and never make it.

It’s a good thing Einstein was a scientist and not a salesman.  For that matter it’s a good thing guys like Alexander Graham Bell, Steve Jobs, Stephen King and the founder of Motown Records, Barry Gordy were a little bit crazy.  All of them faced multiple rejections before they were able to make lasting contributions to society and popular culture.

People have different priorities.  A lot of the time in the world of sales a no isn’t really a no, it’s often a “come back later”, or “I don’t get it”.  That’s when it pays to be a bit crazy.  Keep asking.  In an earlier post I mentioned that I make an average of 40 phone calls a day to get just one appointment and that I usually have to get four appointments to make just one sale.  I face a lot of rejection.  Einstein would call that insane but the most successful people on the planet know that it’s that kind of persistence that makes or breaks greatness.

Keep asking, even when it feels a little bit insane!

Out there somewhere, someone is waiting for you and your ideas.  It is simply a numbers game.  You have to keep asking until you get a yes.  – Jack Canfield; The Success Principles

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