Written By: Elinor Stutz, Motivational Speaker and Sales Trainer at Smooth Sales
My upbringing was the perfect training for me and my challenging sales career to rise up and speak up. The qualifier is to do so in a pleasant tone. Anger never solves anything, whereas a natural smile will catch the bullies off-guard. As they allow ego to take over, we are then perfectly positioned to pose a question that they cannot answer. Accordingly, we free ourselves to proceed as we desire. The worst-case scenario is to walk away and continue doing what we believe to be right. So how does this work?
I was a pioneer saleswoman on my first job with an otherwise all-male sales team and all-male management. The antics were shameful, and training was not allowed for me because they thought I would fail. The men were handed scripts, and I instead asked prospective clients how they prefer to purchase. You can imagine what worked best. By the fourth month, not knowing anything about the business equipment I was supposed to sell or how to sell, I became the team’s top producer. And then the games became UGLY. But with teenagers at home, there was no way I could quit as their eyes were on me. I held my head high and showed up for work with clenched fists every day.
At the end of each year, management gave my hard-earned accounts to the men, and my quota tripled. I had to interview for a new job every year for ten years. On one occasion, the sales manager accompanied me on a sales call. As I drove us back to the office, he harshly reprimanded me for conducting the sales cycle backward. He then threatened my job if I didn’t change my ways.
Fight Back With A Stinging Question
Back in the office, he asked if I realized that my job was on the line and if I was willing to change my style. With a big smile, I said, “Sure I’ll change, but only if you will answer one question.” He nodded his head. I asked, “If I’m doing everything wrong, will you please explain to me why I’m always at the top of the sales scoreboard?” The one question allowed me to continue my way!
Speak Up As If Your Life Depends Upon It
At the end of my sales career, I took a long-awaited day off. The good news and bad news is someone plowed into my car at a red light. No doctor wanted to touch me due to liability or a horrific outcome. It was a gift years later that I was a passenger in another car that slowly skidded into a lamppost. Surprising myself, I said, “you better call an ambulance.” A near-death experience with a gold light encasing my entire body signaled to me that I would overcome the severe injury.
Heavily medicated for surgery the next morning, I was in disbelief when I heard the surgeon say, “Mrs. Stutz, when you wake up, you will most likely be paralyzed.” As a salesperson, the words ‘most likely’ got my attention. I took it to mean that he didn’t believe I would make it. In no uncertain terms, I repeated a few of his words and said, “Doctor, when I wake up, I fully expect to be well!” The last thing I remembered was him jumping backward. After surgery, he and the entire staff deemed me to be a walking miracle.
I later realized that our worst experiences are our gifts in disguise. Community service was the main message in my near-death experience. I began sharing the worst, not the best—the corporate stories transformed into an international best-selling book. And I helped many job seekers acquire the job they sought.
Face Your Fear
But one piece was still missing from my repertoire of competitive strategy. A brilliant marketing person also told me that I needed to change my ways. This time I listened. She was teaching me how to communicate best upon the launch of social media. Upon hearing I needed to embrace collaboration, I almost panicked. But the thought of returning to corporate was a worse idea. I gave the collaborative effort a try.
Sometimes we have to step up and try the unknown when nothing else works. We are to ask ourselves, “what do we have to lose?” Should the answer be ‘nothing,’ then we have everything to gain. One of my greatest joys is visiting other countries and getting to know people around the world. Social media brought the effort to my desktop.
Even better, I found like-minded life-long friends who also are willing to rise up, speak up, and collaborate. I learned this is finding one’s tribe. Brainstorming together, we keep each other going with new ideas. I never let up my work on social media because of the enjoyment it brings.
Passion becomes our success. Kred proclaimed me to be a Top 1% Influencer and later created a page in my honor. Before I experimented with the concept of collaboration, I would never have believed this to be possible.
Yes, I Can Make It Possible!
The best insight I can share is that we frequently hear “that won’t work” or “it’s impossible.” Sometimes the remarks are unusually nasty. Don’t waste time on anger or questioning yourself. Instead, determine the underlying cause. Often, the person is afraid you will leave them behind. However, it’s wise to stop for a minute to consider if they shared any unintended word of wisdom in the remark. Yes or no, know that you are on to something special.
When you put your mind, heart, and soul into your effort, the chances are good that you will succeed!
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