What do you do when you’re hanging off a cliff? Pull yourself up, or let go and take your chances for a soft landing.
Just over 10 years ago, it’s the last day of the month, and it’s a Friday. I look over at the Stack Rank. The top reps in the office are at all time monthly highs between $30-40k in closed revenue for the month. While people are closing deals left and right, I’m at a scratch (zero). I’m very nervous as this is now my 3rd month in a row where I haven’t closed anything.
My fear becomes a reality when my VP of Sales (we’ll call him Scott) at the time pulls me into his office, with a pained expression on his face.
“Brandon, you’re fired.” He says right away, before I could speak.
For me, sounds become muted (like in the movies) Scott’s speech slows. It seems unreal. “What? But I’m working really hard.” I balk at myself for how pathetic those words sounded as they escaped my lips.
Scott sighs. “I didn’t say you weren’t working hard. I said you were fired. You haven’t sold anything in the last 3 months. Nothing I can do buddy. Sorry.”
I pleaded with him. “You gotta give me another chance! If I can close a deal before tomorrow, will you give me a chance to keep my job?”
He looked almost amused. For some reason, he wasn’t ready to give up on me. “Sure.” He said reluctantly. “Get out.”
That night, after scraping and crawling until there was blood under my fingernails, I managed to squeeze out a small $280 deal. Scott kept his word, but only gave me a week to close another deal, or I would be “fired again.”
At the end of that week, I managed to bring in another $329 dollars. This time Scott gave me 2 weeks to close something else or I would be “fired again.”
But 2 weeks came and went, and I didn’t close anything. The old fear of losing my job and having to start over in a new career came swelling back up. In the middle of my pitch to a customer, Scott came up behind me, grabbed the phone out of my hand and disconnected the call. I started to complain. “What –“
“Get out of your comfort zone!” he exclaimed. “No wonder you’re not selling anything! You sound like a zombie! There’s no excitement in your voice! How do you expect anyone to believe you that you can help their business?! Go splash some water on your face!”
I started to argue, but I realized he was right. I was uncomfortable asking for the close. I was uncomfortable interrupting someone’s day with a cold call. And I realized that until I changed that about myself, my insanity would not be fixed.
It was the best advice anyone has given me in my career. If you want to achieve something, you must be willing to DO the uncomfortable, you must be willing to jump head first in the pool instead of dipping your toe.
So, on the very next call I forced myself to do what was uncomfortable for me. I forced myself to be louder. I forced myself to try and be personable. I forced myself to ask for the close. I forced myself to ask questions that I wasn’t comfortable asking. And when I made those changes, I closed a deal. It was like magic! On the very next call. ZING! I learned how to run cold calls; and from that day on, I closed deals consistently throughout my career.
“I realized I could directly control the outcome of my income by being more enthusiastic about my growth and hard work.”
Why wasn’t I selling before?
Simple. I didn’t show any ‘grit’ until there was a gun pointed at my head.
So what’s the key? The key is showing the same grit when you DON’T have a gun to your head.
How do you do that?
You can do it by understanding 2 things:
Literally imagine yourself hanging off a cliff.
Not kidding. Imagine it. I do! A legendary marketing genius once said that, if he had to write a killer sales letter, he would imagine he had a gun pointed at his head and that he would be shot if his advertising didn’t deliver. This motivated him to create some of the world’s most-profitable ads. Example: one of his sales letters was mailed more than 300 million times in the 1970s and produced up to $300,000 a day in sales. Not bad.
Understand that the fear of “falling off the cliff” can help you.
It’s all about how you view things. The gun can be a weapon held at your head or a weapon in your hands. Your motivation to make things happen for yourself should not exist because you’re afraid of not delivering, but because you’re passionate about what you’re doing, because you’re excited by ideas, and because you believe that what you’re doing is important for its own sake. Nobody can take that away from you.
Since that day early in my career I’ve never looked back; when I realized I could directly control the outcome of my income by being more enthusiastic about my growth and hard work. Even though it wasn’t comfortable for me to do it at first, my ‘motivation seed’ for a professional career was planted.
When you learn that you could deliver “without the gun”, you’ll be a top performer in everything that you do in business.
What are things you do to motivate others?