Pain In The Ask!


Does it always have to come down to this?

Sales gives me the creeps. All the years of conditioning by sales trainers, managers and marketing pukes never sat well with me. I hate asking for anything. Not exactly the attribute you would be looking for in a sales rep but there I was, playing liar’s poker with a five million dollar territory.

I sat through hours of training videos and role plays where the would-be rep would close the sale after rattling off perfectly memorized features and benefits and getting their victim to commit on the spot. It was nerve damaging. Is this what they thought we were doing out there? I certainly wasn’t and it troubled me deeply. It made me feel inferior and inept.

“Ask for the business,”  was the mantra coming out of the home office and off the stages at sales meetings. Sales. That word carries a lot of connotations and none of it good.

Games, games, always the games. A wink and a nod from the older guys who’d been around but that was about it. They didn’t care about the business you already had, it was about your conversion rate and new business, cause every year that number was going up and that monster had to be fed.

This actually happened I swear:

One year my boss threw down the gauntlet and told us she wanted to witness a confrontation with a competitive product user. She wanted us to score point for point with someone while she was standing right there. You know what the odds of that happening were? Zilch! I couldn’t imagine that happening on command like that. Never happen.

So she set up three days of travel with me and we set out itching for a fight so she could fill out her agenda for the year. Three days should give me plenty of time, right? On the last call of the last day of her ride along, we were in the bowels of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, talking to a couple of techs and the radiology manager.

I was resigning myself to failure and rehearsing my better luck next time speech, when in walks this cardiologist, the decision maker, an enormous asshole with an out sized ego (excuse the redundancy) that I had heard about but never met, and he starts ranting about all the things he didn’t like about Cardiolite. Huh?

Oh my God, is this a set up? I couldn’t believe it, a toe-to-toe with an ill informed clown right in front of my boss? He threw me so many softballs my arms got tired. He never had a chance. He ranted and raved at such a pace I had to wait for the sound of him drawing a breath to get my licks in. Which I did, with gusto.

Finally, he whimpered off and said he would try our stuff again to see if I was right. It was amazing. I could (should) have blown the guy. Never in all my years had anything like that ever happened to me, forget about my boss standing there. And I never asked him for a thing.

I just stated my case and referenced papers and other successful users. I remember her rubbing my shoulder as we got off the elevator and saying what a great job I did. Surreal.

After dropping her off at the airport I remember wondering, on the ride home, how long I could keep this shit up. Marlon Brando couldn’t have pulled that off.

Here’s the way I look at it. If you have a product or service you think is good then get it seen, heard and talked about. You shouldn’t have to ask. Your mileage may vary, but that’s the approach. But that’s not what the home office people think. They think you are little robots who use all the tag lines and approaches they have created in the confines of a meeting room.

I’ve been following a guy on line who, right out of the gate, broke all the rules. He tore down all the bullshit misconceptions people have about business and marketing. He revealed what companies really think about their employees and their phony values systems. My kind of guy. I bought two of his books because he had a way of revealing himself that was refreshing. He bared his soul and he moved me. He was definitely not mainstream.

But his last move was the coup de grâce. It was time to cash in and go for “the ask”. He went mainstream on me. Offering thousand dollar coupons, time pressured deals, discounts off his new book, WTF? Where was my guy? If you have the goods you don’t have to resort to that bullshit. He turned into Tony Robbins, Michael Hyatt, Chris Brogan and Marie Forleo, et al. Creepy.

Yeah, I’m a business owner, an entrepreneur, an artist and a producer. I have a product. I need to make you aware of it and all its benefits but I’m not not going to go to my knees on you and create pressure where there is none. You get it or you don’t. You want it or you won’t.

Now rinse and spit. Simple.

If you have any questions or need advice, please feel free to reach out to me here.

Bob O’Hearn

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Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

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