Have I mentioned that I’m married to a salesman? Yep, two people in our household dependent on the approval of others to make a living. I could say a lot here about the insanity of that, but the truth is, it works for us, except when we let the pressure to make a sale take over.
This was a topic of heavy discussion as we wound down from a tough day recently. Long drive, no sale. Blank computer screen, no sale. Over no-sugar-added, fat free vanilla frozen yogurt sundaes (by the way, it sucks getting healthy) we acknowledged the temptation to forget who we are in order to make a sale.
Here’s the picture – you’re out in a sailboat and suddenly the wind dies. I’ve never been sailing, but I hear you deal with that phenomenon by waiting out the wind. When your monthly budget depends on a constant breeze of new sales, it’s hard to be that patient.
We acknowledged we could maybe make things happen faster by cranking out more appointments, more ads, more pitches to editors. We could hurry through the appointments/inquiries we do have, looking over their shoulders to the next one. After all, sales does comes down to numbers at some point. But does a frantic flurry of new activity always equal more sales? No, and here’s why.
Whether it’s the words/tone we use to persuade or our eagerness to shift the pressure to the client, giving in to the urge to force sales is rarely successful. Someone said once that the best salesman is a hungry one; we would submit that signalling, however subtly, that you’re a starving artist or salesman isn’t a great sales tactic.
What can we do, then, to stir up the wind again? The logical answer came to me this week in the form of Jeff Goins’ Writer’s Manifesto. Brilliant little ebook, everyone in sales/writing/artistic endeavours should read it.
Because he tells us we should “stop writing to be read and adored” and simply write to the best of our ability, because that’s what we do as writers. Insert “selling” or “painting” or whatever your art is, and it makes sense. We may be dependent on the approval of others to sell our products, but if their approval (and the need for more sales) is the whole reason we do what we do, we can’t help sounding a little desperate.
Stay with me here. The discussion I had with my husband about surviving a dead calm really has more to do with who we become when sales slow down. If we switch from offering our best to the world, best writing, best connecting with customers and finding out what they really need, etc., into panic mode, it just doesn’t work. We cut corners, we crank out garbage or we offer things we can’t deliver when it comes down to it. We get that whiny edge to our voices that says “You need to feel sorry enough for me to give me money.”
Not an attractive way to build a client base. I am a writer. He is a salesman. We are good at what we do. It isn’t helpful to forget that fact every time we hit a dead calm. We’re fortunate enough to hold each other accountable to keep doing our best every day, no matter how little wind seems to be hitting our sails.
What, faithful readers, are you doing to stay accountable when the wind dies? I’d love to hear your ideas for surviving a dead calm.