Vital Lesson About Sales Success I Learned from My Mom
Sometimes we think there’s a magic bullet that will catapult us to happiness and success. We’re frantically looking for a magic powder, a new pill, or the latest diet of clever closes. I hate to disillusion you, but the truth is no one thing will bring you success in life or sales. It’s a lesson that I learned from my mother and mentor that changed my life.
At four years old, my mom fled from Nazi Germany with her mother, father, and three sisters to escape the Holocaust. They settled in a poor immigrant community in Los Angeles. Unable to speak English and grateful for the hand-me-downs from neighbors, they seemingly had no way out. Then my mother made a discovery.
The public library.
She described it as a magical place filled with stories, ideas and knowledge. She checked out ten books per week, brought them back, and got ten more. Now, 75 years later, she not only learned the language and received a partial scholarship from UC Berkeley, but she’s also published 40 books of her own and performs keynote speeches to teach young children about the atrocities of genocide.
As a writer, poet, and artist, people always ask her, “Sunny (short for Sonia), from where do you get your inspiration?” (I love to watch her answer this question.) She pauses, takes a breath, and replies, “I don’t get a message on a mountain top; a voice doesn’t inspire me from above while I’m in the shower. I get up every morning, make the bed, pour a cup of coffee, and I sit down at my desk and do the work!” It was my mother who taught me discipline and the term relentless tenacity. It takes relentless tenacity in any endeavor to make it to the top.
How Successful Sellers Practice Relentless Tenacity
If I didn’t structure my time to write blogs and call prospects each day, I’d never succeed. I’d have made excuses: “I don’t feel creative today, Susan wants to go on a hike, I work better under pressure.” Or, as author and journalist Jon Zonderman once said, “The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.”
Structure saves us from asking questions like: Should I prospect this morning? Should I skip the pre-call planning step because I have back-to-back calls? Which discovery questions do I ask? Having a structure means you stop asking whether or not you feel like doing your job today. You just do it. Make a list of your must-do’s and structure time on your calendar to get them done. No one will do this for you. My partial list includes:
- Create a pre-call plan before each meeting
- Research customers and your customer’s customers before your meeting
- Connect with all stakeholders on LinkedIn
- Follow up every discovery call with a video
- Perform one-on-ones once a month with each direct report
- Send handwritten thank-you notes and or gifts after each speaking engagement and master class
And so on.
Muster the discipline to not only make more calls but also to make the scarier calls. Don’t simply send emails and texts. Make a list of the ten people you’re most scared to contact, your dream clients – those who would change your life if they said yes. I always say the call you’re afraid to make is the call you must make.
Embrace the Word No
Ross Perot once said, “No doesn’t mean no — just ‘not now.’” When I started my training company in 1997, I consciously set out to see how many no’s I could get, knowing that I would hear a yes after a certain amount of them. I called every prospect I could and reframed feelings of embarrassment and self-doubt if and when they rejected my offer. I offered free training if the CEO would sit in and even sent a pizza with a poem to a prospect who wouldn’t return my calls. Once you change your mindset regarding the word “no,” you’ll change your sales and life.
Albert Einstein is credited with the saying, “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, sometimes doing the same thing repeatedly is exactly what’s required to successfully launch a venture, grow into a leadership position, or increase your sales success. We have to do the hard stuff, the scary stuff, face rejection, and, like my mom, do the work.
Here’s a shout-out to all the moms out there who raise their families, juggle a career, build community, and DO THE WORK!
Great article Shari, love the picture of you and your mom! Just shared with my team, hope they are inspired.
Thank you, Richard. She’s indeed a blessing. Excited for you to meet her grandson!
Dear Shari, I just read about your mama Sunny. I love when you tell about Sunny’s wisdom, humor , dedication and love.
Thank you for sharing. It brought happy tears.
My grandmother, of blessed memory, was “Bubbi Sunny.” Her name was Sonia. Your mother is an inspiration. The Holocaust was only 80 years ago. Man’s Inhumanity to Man.continues. Let’s try to make this world a better place for all.
I’m sure Bubby would be proud of you and your commitment to Tikun Olam!
Shari, Wonderful ideas and truths. How lucky you were to have such a special MOM.
You celebrate each day, you don’t wait until Sunday.
Love this. Happy Mother’s Day, Shari!
I have always loved the way you credit your mother with so much of your success. She gave you amazing building blocks and you built an empire. This is a great tribute on Mother’s Day and a message I truly needed to hear at this time! Have a wonderful Mother’s day yourself. Keep reminding us why we chose this path.
You are a mother to all those you mentor, Karen. happy Mother’s day!
This is excellent advice. I appreciate the part about not being afraid to hear no and reframing from self doubt and embarrassment. I have been selling for over 30 years and still have to talk myself out of that fear at times. And it is true, most no’s lead to yes!
Thank you Shari
Jamie Mason Cohen
Excellent, actionable advice that I will incorporate into my daily planning. Thanks!
Thank you,Jamie. I’m blessed to have such a role of a mother!