A few days ago I attended a sales training/mini-boot camp for a company I recently joined, Stella and Dot. The facilitator of the meeting, V.P. of Training, Danielle Redner, opened with this question: "What would you do if not afraid?"
I thought to myself, "Me, afraid? Cha-uh, never!"
And then subconscious tapped on my shoulder and said, "You are so full of it, ya know?" The truth is, my biggest fears are rooted in the smallest word of the English language, "No." With my success embedded in sales, I'm doomed by my shortcoming.
And how do we get people to buy? We ask for the sale. Really? We ask?
"Ask," a word attached to the yes and no answers of the world. So it goes, the training seminar focused on overcoming fears, and realizing that "No" is part of sales. Fearing "No" puts a huge damper on gaining sales, which places a huge road-block to income and success.
The more we got into the training, the more I felt my confidence gain speed. She taught us how to engage people; get their interest; go after the sale. The worst case scenario: Someone says "No."
No guts, no glory, right? No one will buy it if I don't promote it. Simple as that.
Thereafter my daughter and I went to the local mall and visited a high-end retail store. I found myself in the cosmetic section, which reminded me that I needed mascara. I first went to my usual counter to find no sales person. From there I went to my second choice, which truthfully is always my first one, but too pricey even though I love their product. That counter had a sales person lurking behind their new Spring palettes of eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks. "May I help you," she asked. "Yes," said I while eyeing the mascara. "I need one of these in black." Clerk goes to the drawer, fishes around, pulls out the mascara and says, "Anything else?" while ringing me up.
I thought to myself that this clerk cut her chances of earning more if only she had pulled out an eye-shadow pallet and said, "Your eyes are gorgeous! Oh, this would look lovely on you."
"Cha-ching!" her cash register would have screamed, but alas, not to be since she was merely interested in giving me what I asked for, and not going the extra mile.
Which later made me think of my writing world (oh, what a sneaky segue as well as shameless promotion of my Stella & Dot world).
I have completed three, that's right, THREE novels. I have three others in the making, but for purposes of the point I'm about to make, I'll focus on my completions. After putting many hours, days, weeks, months, years, into these babies, I only queried two of them to less than six agents, and even fewer editors. I signed up for writer conferences where I had appointments for face-to-face meetings with agents and editors, and canceled going to them.
Why? One word answer: Fear. I was so afraid to hear words such as, "Not for me," or simply, "No," that I never put myself or my work out there, much like a person standing in the rain in downtown Manhattan hoping a taxi will simply pull over without first being hailed down for a ride.
With fear comes lack of confidence. Same as pimping beautiful jewelry that literally sells itself, my writing won't sell if I don't offer it to potential buyers, as well as warming them up with a great hook, query letter and synopsis.
It's all about overcoming the fear of hearing one simple word, "No."
Not everyone says it. Many will buy something because of its presentation, intrigued by that "hootchy-kootchy" dance at the carnival's entrance. (I once saw that term used to explain the purpose of a synopsis, "The hootchy-kootchy" dance that draws the patrons in.)
But without overcoming fear, one might as well fold up their tent, put away the pen, and watch the stampede pass them by, which is basically what I learned in a mini-boot camp geared toward sales, which screwed in the light-bulb that been blinking and now shines brightly on the answer.
"Ah-ha!" says Oprah.
"Ah, yes," I sigh. If you write it, they will read. But in between, it's all about honing your hook, query and synopsis. And then you suck in your gut and put it out there knowing that, yes, you'll hear "No," but you'll also increase your chances of hearing, "Yes."
"Ah, yes." Simple truths to answer the mystery of my abysmal self-confidence. Simply, "Ah, yes."