In business as in war, when faced with pain, confrontation or rejection most able-bodied men and women choose to pack up their bags and retreat. For the majority, the fight or flight response is typically activated in favor of turning around and running for the hills as opposed to wading headlong into the storm. And, as selling for a living involves enough pain and rejection to choke a horse, most avoid a sales career as if it were the plague. The rank and file will readily opt for safe, plain vanilla office work or blue-collar humping and lugging before they will ever consider the maverick, kill or be killed lifestyle of a professional closer. Better the monotony (and mirage) of a secure, stable job, one that guarantees a paycheck (no matter how mediocre) than to suffer through the discomfort of having hundreds upon hundreds of doors slammed in your face, and the frustration of an endless string of no’s to live through all day, every day. Never mind the incredible fortune an unrelenting closer is capable of generating, the sheer unpredictability of it all multiplied by the unease at having to push and cajole impatient and uninterested prospects propels your average â€œJoe the Plumberâ€ to pursue a common, unexceptional job sweeping the streets rather than risking salary and certainty.
Now, I’m not saying that most working stiffs don’t bust their asses in these unremarkable, everyman jobs, far from it. It’s hard work lifting hundred pound cement bags 12 hours a day in the blazing sun. It’s bloody hard work digging ditches on bitter cold days when you’d rather stay in bed and nurse a raging hangover. I recognize and respect the blood, sweat and tears many a man sheds in an attempt to scratch out a life and I understand just how brutally tough and thankless these blue collar existences can be. However, as ball-busting as manual labor most assuredly is, it is also comfortable, as a matter of fact, it’s as comfort zone as you can get. What?! Did you say comfortable?! Are you out of your mind Rosenberg?! Cleaning up construction sites six days a week or digging holes in the ground until your hands are cracked and bleeding is anything but comfortable I hear some of you shouting, so let me make this perfectly clear: Is it grindingly hard work? Absolutely! Hernia-popping? Without question! Thankless and unrewarding? Undoubtedly. Proletarian toil is all that and more, but it is also comfortable – it is comfortable because it is routine.
Wake up, dig the ditch, don’t think, don’t question, punch the clock, day in and day out – a robot’s existence ad infinitum. And, let’s not forget the money. That unfulfilling, unrewarding, uninspiring remuneration you call a paycheck waits patiently for you at the end of every week, regardless of the heights to which you’ve risen or the lows to which you’ve sunk, that hourly wage is set in stone. No risk of blowing it, no risk of failure, no risk of going hungry if you don’t dig the day’s targeted number of holes, no reward for digging any more ditches than your colleagues because you’re faster, stronger and more ambitious – just follow the routine and all those nickels and dimes are yours, guaranteed! Waiting tables, flipping burgers, sweeping the streets, it’s no one’s idea of paradise. In truth, it’s a tough existence with few prospects or possibility – but it is safe, it is secure, and it is comfortable.
People sacrifice their hopes and dreams every day of the week, selling their souls for the safe road, the routine, the path of least resistance. They sell out at the expense of a future because for most failure and rejection are far more painstaking and heartbreaking in the short term.
Making it as a sales professional on the other hand, well that’s just as hard as laying bricks, but it is also extremely uncomfortable. Risking a paycheck and a safe, routine job in favor of taking your shot and going for broke as a fly by the seat of your pants, gun-slinging, “eat what you kill” closer is anathema to the herd. The resistance and rejection, the struggle to win, is mind-cracking and rife with the type of fear (fear of the unknown) that the common man refuses to face. Fear of loss, fear of rejection fear of the word “no.” No, I do not have the time to listen to your sales pitch! No, we do not have a deal!
No, there isn’t a commission check waiting for you at the end of the month!
That kind of existence is way too intimidating, uncomfortable and unnerving for most. For the huddled masses, mediocrity and invisibility is preferable to a life filled to the rafters with rejection and the never-ending possibility of failure after failure.
Even those with the courage to take a shot at a sales career are not immune to the comfort zone coma. The unwillingness to get uncomfortable and slug it out on the path of maximum resistance is the single biggest reason why most salespeople completely fail in their attempts to generate the kind of income possible from what would otherwise be home-run money-spinning career. It’s frustrating and uncomfortable spending months trying to bash through or find a clever way around a hardened gatekeeper in order to get the real decision-maker on the phone, instead of giving up and pitching the boss’s minions. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable rebutting all manner of objections and closing over and over again well after the prospect has already told you “no,” or worse: “maybe later”. It is so much easier to take the path of least resistance, even if, in the long term, the pain and frustration of not having all the things you dream about far exceeds the short term discomfort you feel when you willingly put yourself into edgy situations with prospects or push yourself beyond the cold calling pain-barrier to work harder, longer and more intensely than your competition.
As a professional closer there comes a moment, often many, many times a day, where you are faced with two roads, one leads you to the comfort zone, the other to pain, frustration and discomfort. One road is safe, easy and comfortably numb, the other prickly and unnerving. One leads to perpetual misgiving and underachievement, the other to glory, money and power. Be that as it may, in the heat of the moment, when faced with the choice of which road to choose most are blinded as to just where these two divergent paths will lead. When the moment of truth arrives and you are forced to decide whether or not to wake up two hours earlier, whether or not to stay at the office a few hours later or whether or not to ask for the business one more time and risk the ire and invective of your prospect, all that most really see is the immediate pain and discomfort that taking the distressful action will generate. However, you don’t have to go down without a fight, this can be your Damascene moment – the instant when you choose to change everything. The very second your mind conceptualizes that your actions will lead to pain and discomfort is the instant when you must walk into the knife pointed at your throat!
The unnerving sensations that a distressing situation produces is not a warning to back away, it is your signal to advance, to move forward. How do you know that your actions will lead to long term achievement or to phenomenal success? If it is bristling and uncomfortable then it is the right path, period, end of! Let the short term discomfort and uneasy feelings that taking overt and aggressive action generates be your guide to knowing exactly what to do and when the hell to do it. And, when an opportunity arises to take the hard way in or the coward’s way out, press on with the tough route, the bumpy road, have the mettle to get hardcore and uncomfortable.
If your job does not present you with unsettling, unnerving predicaments daily, situations where to do might mean to die, then you are wasting your time and wasting away, doing only what it takes to exist. In order to ensure a booming and prosperous future, one where you call the shots, set the terms and reap the bounty, your actions must lead you down the path that the listless are too tired to walk and the gutless too fearful to tread.