Eighty percent of all buyers say “No” before they eventually say “Yes”. The word no is an easy and convenient way of saying, “I don’t have time right now”, or “I don’t know enough about your product to say yes”, or “I’m not in the mood to buy anything right now”, or a lot of other reasons. Sales people can find adversity every time they turn around in the world of sales. There will always be adversity and to be successful, sales people must learn how to deal with it. When pondering the trials of being a sales person, I often think of the story of the farmer and the mule.

A farmer owned an old mule. One day the mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer, hearing the mule braying, rushed over to see what had happened. After assessing the situation, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving.

Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened, and enlisted their help to haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery. At first the old mule was hysterical. But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he could shake it off and step up. So this he did, blow after blow – shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up.

It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered, dirty and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of the well. What seemed like it would bury him had actually been the means of his rescue. Yes, it’s all in how you handle adversity. No matter how much dirt is thrown on you, just SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP.

Sales people need to adopt the same attitude as the mule and shake off the opposition and step up to find new opportunities. I don’t believe any sales person has had to deal with more opposition than Bill Porter. Bill Porter first came to public attention when The Portland Oregonian wrote an article about him called “Life of a Salesman.” His inspirational life and message spread world-wide when 20/20 ran a segment on him and TNT aired a movie about his life, called Door to Door. But he had already been touching the lives of the people to whom he sold products and of his managers and co-workers at
Watkins Products for years.

Bill Porter was born with cerebral palsy. Once told by the State of Oregon he was “unemployable,” he overcame the odds against him and got a job as a door-to-door salesman for Watkins Products. He went on to become the company’s top salesman, one door at a time, succeeding by staying focused on what he was passionate about–sales. Few sales people will have to deal with the challenges that Bill Porter was born with, and yet many sales people will allow adversity to blind their path and hinder their success. Many of the great achievers in life have had to overcome challenges and adversity to become great. Let me tell you about Peter Grey and Pete Strudwick.

As a young man, Peter Grey had a tremendous desire to play professional baseball. He said to himself, “Some day I’ll play in the major leagues at Yankee Stadium.” So, Peter went to work to attain his dream. He played for his high school team and them became a star player for his college baseball team. Due to his willingness to work hard and follow his dream, Peter finally ended up playing in the major league.

Although Peter Grey only played for the St. Louis Browns for one year and only played at Yankee Stadium one time in his short career, many fans feel he should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. His fans feel that way even though Peter never hit home runs or did anything we might consider great. You see, Peter Grey had only one arm.

And then there is Pete Strudwick, a marathon runner. Pete regularly competes in the grueling Pike’s Peak Marathon, one of the most difficult in the world. Over the years he has run more than 25,000 miles. You might ask, “what is so great about that, a lot of people run marathons?” Well, Pete Strudwick runs marathons on stumps, because he has no hands or feet.

How could Peter Grey play in the major leagues with only one arm? How does Pete Strudwick run the Pike’s Peak marathon with no feet? Why are some people like Peter Grey and Pete Strudwick able to overcome terrible adversity and obstacles to achieve greatness, while others, in spite of every advantage, turn their lives into a disaster? The answer is quite simple. Those who are successful in life have learned how to create an overpowering desire to succeed. No one ever attained a consistent pattern of sales success who didn’t have a burning desire to succeed.

Henry J. Kaiser, the great American industrialist said, “What a man can imagine or conceive in his mind he can accomplish. Impossibles are possible as thinking men make them so.” When the adversity of sales has you wondering why you chose this great profession, think about the story of the farmer and the mule, or ponder the challenges Bill Porter had to overcome to be the top sales person for Watkins Products, or consider the lives of Peter Grey and Pete Strucwick. If they can overcome their difficulties, what could you ever consider a challenge in sales?

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Copyright: The Business Performance Group, Inc.
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