Have you heard of the fool in the Middle Ages? The fool was basically a cultural presupposition: every king back then had their fool. In the kingdom, the fool was the only one allowed to make fun of the king.
One day in this particular scenario, the fool came in and cracked a joke that the king didn't like. The king immediately called on the guards to have the fool hauled out and killed. At once, the nobility came in and pleaded with the king not to kill the fool. The nobility said, "This man has worked well for you for more than 40 years. You just can't take him out and kill him." The king thought for a moment and then called back the guards back in with the fool.
The king looked at the fool and said, "Look, I am a divine-right king, I said you have to die, so you have to die. Yet, because I can't go back on my word, I'm going to let you choose the way you want to die." The fool bowed slightly and said, "Sire, if it's all the same to you, I would like to die of old age."
What would you have done? I can see myself saying "I'll take a gun, poison," anything to help me die quickly. In many cases, when we go out on a sales call, we don't think through the process and understand what the fool had done for more than 40 years: he had fun with his job; he used fun, joy and humor. He's really had his own form of positive self-talk in a job created by himself.
One of the best demonstrations of attitude and self-talk came from a woman I hired a few years ago at one of our properties. She had some sales experience in other forms of media -- not much -- and based on her stats/resume and years of experience in sales, she would certainly be nothing you would throw a top list at. Don't worry; I didn't throw that top list at her. If we hired her, she was going to start at the bottom. No one would hire her. She was a jobless media orphan out on the streets looking for a sales job. Seriously, she could hardly use the computer, hardly write an insertion order correctly, and she wasn't the best when it came to reading. Yet, she had something you can't measure -- heart coupled with an insatiable desire to win. I figured if she could sell like I thought she could, heck, I will get somebody to put in her orders for her. I'm not stupid.
The woman was a single mother of two children. She had practically the sole responsibility for raising the kids as well as supporting them financially. No other media company in the market would give her a chance. I did. It was one of the best hires I ever made.
In her first three months, she was bringing in more new business than anyone I had ever hired. She took to new training like it was the last morsel on the table and she was starving. When I hired her, she told me she would be one of our top billers in less than a year. A lot of interviewees will say that, this one I believed.
She had a few things going for her as well. She was one of the most street-smart sales reps I ever coached. I've been known to say that I will hire a street-smart sales rep over someone who has a polished certificate with an MBA on it -- and I know I'm offending those who hold MBA certificates with that comment. Why? It's because street-smart sales reps know how to work people, and let's face it, this job is still face-to-face and belly-belly, in front of the customers and prospects day in and day out during prime time selling hours.
She also had some intangibles which I call "discipline thinking." To this day, she attributes her success and positive attitude to her ability to eliminate negative self-talk.
Leading neuroscientists and psychologists tell us that every day we have an on-going inner dialog of between 45,000 to 51,000 self-talk impressions in our brains They say that in every minute we have around 150 self-talk words and that we can't go more than 11 seconds without having some form of self-talk going on in our heads. Whew!
What happens if self-talk becomes negative? I see it all the time. Inevitably, when a new sales rep is having trouble, it always comes down to self-talk. You hear them, "I don't think he's ready," "I might catch him when he's not in," "He always says no," "Nobody's ever sold this guy before," "He's too tough" and so on. Every possible negative is thrown into the scenario. No wonder they won't sell the prospect. Sales reps can freeze up in their office chairs before they ever leave the office, based on what they are thinking inside their heads. Yes, it's call reluctance -- to a whole other level. Negative self-talk coupled with call reluctance is the kiss of death. How can you convince the prospect they should invest in your product when you don't think it can be done.
Take a chapter out of the manual that the fool in the Middle Ages used to live a long and successful life -- use fun, joy, and humor in your selling process. A recent survey by Career Builder says that only 59 percent of people are satisfied with their current job. Media sales is one of the most exciting jobs you can have .it's one of those "love what you do" jobs. I'm also a big believer that in every sales department there should be a "fool".the director of mirth, so to speak, who creates that fun, joy, and humor in the sales department. Keep it light. If you're having a bad day, go check out the movie Bad Grandpa and laugh a little and then go back to loving what you do!
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at Sean@luceperformancegroup.com orwww.luceperformancegroup.com. You can also find Sean's new book The Liquid Fire on http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-liquid-fire-sean-luce/1117917552?ean=9781304369956