Jason’s thoughts on sales, missions, and grit…..
Sales is an interesting thing. I arrived late last night in Boston, MA. I spent a few hours ironing my shirt, getting last minute details prepared, going through my presentation, double checking my samples, and setting 4 alarms on my phone for 6:15 a.m. so I wouldn’t accidentally shut them off and sleep through my meeting.
After a restless night, I woke up, showered, dressed in a nice suit and went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I tried to pick some healthy things from the buffet (skipping the yummy bacon) and watching several other business people quietly eat breakfast by themselves. I then ran up to my room, grabbed my bag and suitcase full of samples and went into a conference room. I set up my samples, and before I knew it, it was showtime. I put on a smile, shook their hand, handed out my business card and a copy of my presentation. I introduced our company and went through every reason why our products were just what they were looking for, how they would enhance their current store selection, the benefits, features, prices, profit, etc. all along while trying to sense if there was interest in anything I’d shown.
I feel that I can read people well, but sometimes they are pretty stone faced and you just don’t know. I wrapped it up. They pointed to some samples they’d like sent to their office and said they’ll discuss and make a decision. I packed everything up into a box to be sent to them.
As I left the conference room, there was a long line of other nicely dressed sales people with their suitcases and boxes full of samples, hopes, and dreams. I smiled and nodded to a few who made eye contact. Most of them were trying to see what I had been pitching to compare to what they had to offer.
I went up the elevator and came back to my hotel room with most of the product I’d brought with me, and now have a couple hours before heading to the airport to go back home. I’ll arrive home sometime around 1 a.m. and I will repack my suitcase for another trip tomorrow. Rinse and repeat.
Tomorrow I’m off to Canada. Every now and then I’ll have a little win. More rare is a big win. When I do have a win, it’s very exciting. We have a lot of competition, and most often it’s not a win. Sometimes I have to think of the good that happened besides actual ROI or sales from a trade show or meeting, such as something I learned, or a good discussion that happened with a current customer, business acquaintance, or vendor. Occasionally I will get some extra time during my trip to see some sites, but not usually.
I’ve thought about how similar sales can be to my LDS mission and how maybe my mission prepared me for a career in sales. I knocked on doors all day long for 2 years in France. Most often it was met with rejection. Every now and then, we would get to teach someone about the message we had to share and it was fantastic. Even more rare was when they would embrace it, see how it would make their life better, and they would join our church by being baptized. That was really amazing and brought a lot of joy as we saw the gospel of Jesus Christ change someone’s life. Somehow the little wins and the occasional big success makes it all worth it. In both instances, sales and being a missionary, I am passionate and believe in what I have to share.
I’ve wondered what it is that that makes someone good at sales or being a missionary. I really enjoyed being a missionary. I could knock doors all day long. I enjoyed meeting people and finding about them and their life. I am not pushy and I’m always put off by pushy sales people. I am not flashy, and I distrust flashy sales people. I try to be sincere and straightforward.
I think one of the key ingredients to success is grit. Grit is defined as “courage and resolve, strength of character.” Synonyms include: mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolution, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance; spunk.”
I don’t think I’m the best sales person out there, but I think I do have a little grit. So to all the sales people out there going to and from meetings, trying to make things happen, hats off. (unless you are a competitor, then hopefully you don’t have grit, and you should probably go home). 🙂
To all the missionaries and future missionaries, keep it up. Developing grit will help you in life. Real life is not easy and doesn’t have success at every corner. But with grit you can enjoy every day by looking for the good that happened and not getting discouraged. Gordon B. Hinckley said, ““The fact is most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride”
Originally Written 9/21/15 and posted to LinkedIn and Facebook