The humiliation involved in sales is something I have alluded to previously, mainly while speaking about the apprehension people have about making cold calls. But putting yourself in any position where you may be rejected means that you will eventually be rejected and therefore humiliated.
Some salespeople say that they don’t care if people hang up on them, ignore their pitch, rush them out of their office. For them, it’s just part of the game. If those people are telling the truth, then I wish I could be like them. Except for the possibility that they may be sociopathic.
There’s situations when you are pushed beyond being humble. I think that’s where humiliation begins. The word humiliation is a derivation from the word humble, humilis in Latin. I would imagine as some unfortunate 14th century Roman was being thoroughly humbled as he or she considered a word that might better portray their situation and said, “humiliatio” and the concept of humiliation was born.
Most of us are taught that being humble is good. But it can be painful. Particularly when humbled to the point of disregard or disrespect.
I hated the humiliation involved with sales and needed to get over it because I thought I could be good at sales if I just didn’t mind that some people, maybe most people, just aren’t going to be as interested in what I had to sell as I was.
I saw advertisements for sales consultants and books professing that I needn’t approach people that I did not know to sell them things they didn’t expect to buy. I should attract them. They should come to me. I should never give up the “power position” I would otherwise have if I didn’t put myself in a position to be humiliated. That sounded good to me. Easy, right?
I bought into their advice, monetarily and wholeheartedly, and put it into practice. After much work, none of it humiliating, I did attract some prospects. The problem was that the prospects were not qualified. Sometimes they wanted what I could not or did not want to deliver. I was also turning into a quote machine often providing nothing more than due diligence materials. These were just fillers for buyers that had already made their minds up. You can tell after a while when you’re in a situation like that. “What the heck,” I figured, “it’s still an opportunity to sell.” and I cranked out the proposals.
I won very few but envied the salespeople that were in way ahead of me. I would always ask the buyer about their decision and it always seemed like the most consistent factor was that the sale went to one of the first salespeople through the door.
As the ego preserving strategies limped along I decided to get over, or at least address, the apprehension I had with reaching out to possible prospects. I wanted to make the first move and be the guy inspiring the search, not the guy being used to bulk up a due diligence package. Here are some of the things that I did that worked for me:
I waited on Tables; I was forced to approach many different types of people a night. I got pretty good at the job. I even won a few sales contests for selling the most wine or the most specials. And I made money while learning. That’s a big bonus. How often do you get paid for an education?
I asked a girl out; This was a girl I always wanted to go out with. She turned me down, 3 times. Then one day she approached me and we set a date. I learned about persistence without being offensive. I also learned about building a sale pipeline from that experience, the value of a future opportunity. I ended up marrying that girl, by the way.
I took up running; I must admit I did not do this to help deal with my sales apprehension. But, when you run around in public, stressing your body out, you really don’t care about how people see you. You can also easily focus on complex subjects and they start to seem simple. This sounds and is in conflict of itself. I guess it’s kind of a zen thing although I’m not a buddhist. It’s probably an aspect of what athletes call “being in the zone”.
I don’t want to get metaphysical here. This is practical and It can translate to making cold calls, mainly focusing on that singular call, that one person and what they are saying to you right then and nothing else… except your role as the salesperson in that moment. Again, a conflict, but it exists that way when it’s good. Do not get wrapped up in the idea of needing to make the next call. Make the most of this one.
What I found after accepting that most people are not going to buy from me, at least not right away, was that I was able to sell more while having more control of the sales process by approaching possible prospects. What I gave up in a “power position” I gained in the pocketbook. Maybe that’s the greatest motivator for accepting humiliation. Its an enrichment. It’s being humble and it’s good for you in many ways. And in sales, It pays off.
I’ve mentioned a few of the techniques that have worked for me. If you have any that have worked for you, let me know at: