Once upon a time, many moons ago, I was a new, young salesman. I worked for a white-haired man who’d seen more sales dollars go by him than Carter had little pink pills.
As I still am, I was full of ideas. He listened and appreciated my thinking about his business.
That’s a kind way to say he tolerated me.
Many older salesmen would have made short work of me and my ideas, but he allowed me to dream and think. Because of that, I never learned that thinking was a bad or painful idea.
I wish I’d remembered this before my daughters were very old. They’d be better off if I’d never shot down one of their ideas. So will every one of the people you have influence over. Never squash their ideas. Allow them to dream, even if it taxes your patience to the max.
The man I’m speaking of allowed me to bring him my ideas and always found a way to gently toss them out like yesterdays coffee grounds.
I remember giving him one of my all-time great ideas and he told me something that I wish I’d remembered before now.
” If this world was populated by anything other than humans, your idea might work. But as long as it’s humans we sell to, your idea won’t fly… because of inertia. “
Huh ? What the heck does inertia have to do with selling, I thought.
He said I expected way too much from the prospects I called on. He was right.
I hadn’t thought about that and that was the problem.
Years later, when I had moved on to another position, I saw this same premise in print – if you want to succeed in selling, you have to expect to meet and overcome human inertia.
If you’ll read the life story of Sir Henry Bessemer, you’ll see the same idea. He was the inventor of the steel making process that still bears his name. But he was more than an inventor and a scientist, he was a world-class salesman.
He had to be a master salesman, because his ideas were untried and way ahead of their time.
Sir Henry said, ” I have proposed things which I was convinced were very useful. ” But ” I do not know of one instance of one of my suggestions having been tried. The difficulty is getting the first man to move. “
He spoke about is 120+ patents and how he had to personally push – and sell – each one himself. Without his never-give-up attitude towards those 120+ patents and ideas, they would never have seen the light of day.
When he brought steel rails to the railroads, they were using low grade iron rails that weren’t really a good solution. But would they listen to him, even as they used a poor solution to their problem ? No. Of course not, or I’d not be writing this post.
He had to personally lay steel rails on one side and iron on the other to test them.
His steel rail outlasted 23 iron rails. After that, selling them was a tad bit easier.
It took him 12 years to convince the British government to use one of his ideas. 12 years.
” Always allow for the element of inertia in humanity. It’s constant. He who would sell must meet it and overcome it . “
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