I just finished reading a book by Jia Jiang called Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. The premise was Jia put himself in situations in which he was certain to be rejected and then discussed what he learned. He did crazy things like try to borrow $100 from a stranger, or ask the Southwest Airlines flight attendant if he could make the announcements. Each time he got rejected he learned something and shared his knowledge.
I saw Jia speak at a Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. He was funny and engaging. The audience loved this guy. You would have never known he had a fear of rejection. I learned a lot about rejection, but one lesson stood out for me that I would like to share with you: failure is only part of the journey.
Zig Ziglar used to say “I had the fear of rejection…I didn’t understand that prospects weren’t rejecting me; they were only rejecting the offer I was making them. You can’t take rejection personally.”
I have to tell you: I think our ten-year-old is listening to old Zig Ziglar CD’s at night. He simply will not get down when he is rejected. He doesn’t go door to door, or make cold calls like many of us; he works his mom and me to get most things he wants. I cannot understand why no one has figured out how to create a sales methodology that uses a ten-year old as the model salesman.
First of all, children are masters of not taking “no” personally. They shrug it off and continue to sell you more. One time we were at the Rain Forest Café and our ten-year old wanted this nine-dollar cup. He first approached his mom. She promptly shot him down by saying, “No, nine dollars is too much for a cup.” Next he asked his grandmother. She said, “No, I don’t think so. That is a lot of money for a cup and besides your mother said no.” Then he came to me. I said, “Mom said it is too much. I can’t do it, buddy.” He walked away to look at the cup a little longer, and think about a strategy. Keep in mind that we are not rejecting him; we are rejecting the idea of $9 for a cup.
He came back with a different deal structure. He offered us the opportunity to invest $3 each for this brand new cup. That way the cost was only $3, not $9 (per person that is). Basically he got three departments to pay a little of their budget to finance the purchase.
His first failure did not discourage him. He realized failure was part of the journey to get what he wanted most (at least at that moment).
Now let’s talk about persistence. Have you ever in your life met anyone more persistent than a child? Today they say it takes between 6 and 13 touches just to get someone to call you back. Isn’t it ironic that we send our sales team out to do this work and yet we isolate ourselves from everyday sales people. For a great lesson in sales just pay closer attention to your children–they really know how not to take “no” personally. They realize that “no” doesn’t mean “no”, it means “maybe” and “maybe” means “probably”, and “probably” likely means “definitely”.
In our adult life we might call this stalking – but actually we should be more persistent as sales professionals and remember the journey is filled with failure, but also a lot of fun along the way.