View Full Version : The Salesman's Mentailty

11-03-2004, 06:28 PM
Dear fellow screenwriters,

Years ago my father offered this advice:

"Son, it takes 100 calls, to get 10 prospects, to close 2 sales."

My dad is a 'good ol boy' from Oklahoma (everyone adores my father - for he is *genuine* fellow) - and he was (and still IS with the ladies - at 75 years 'young') the consummate salesman.

So - if you want to *succeed* - you must adopt the salesman's creed (above), learn how to accept rejection (the ratio above *is* 100 to 10 to 2) - and most of all:


HOWEVER - and this is from the hysterical "De-Motivaltional" series a friend sent me a while back:

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win - however, if you never win, and never quit - then you are an idiot!"

Yes - there IS a time in which to 'give up' and move on to something different.

It may be you lack the requisite TALENT to succeed, or don't have the contacts or experience *neccessary* to succeed in a particular field.

So - "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em' - as Kenny Rodgers sang in his famous song, "THE GAMBLER".

Hope this advice helps some of you.

It is advice that I LIVE by.

My father is/was RIGHT - and, I follow my dad's lead *with* this advice!

All the best,

Michael Carr

Film and Write On,

Michael Carr
Director: Telluride and Key West IndieFests
Executive Producer: Queso Productions

tellurideindiefest.com (http://tellurideindiefest.com)

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11-04-2004, 08:45 AM
A good advice for all (and I paraphrase):

Find something you like to do and
you can do it better than many people
and others will pay you for doing it
and you keep doing it and beating on it until you don't enjoy doing it anymore

11-06-2004, 01:48 AM
That is good thinking. One saying I follow is "keep on keepin' on." I don't think it's in me to quit :) but I do know there are writers out there who decide to throw in the towel after constantly being rejected. All the pep talk and advice in the world won't get them to keep going at it but that's exactly what it takes to succeed. You have to keep at it. You can't give up. And, yes, salesmen can and do tell you a thing or two about finding success but it is ultimately preseverence that will reward you in the end.

11-08-2004, 07:07 PM
Aha! So THAT'S why I married a salesman -- to learn the techniques from him when I finished the novel. And I thought I married him just for his body heat. :grin

11-24-2004, 12:12 AM
What's the difference between a successful salesman and a failure?

The successful one doesn't count the failed calls. He only counts the sales.

11-30-2004, 09:49 AM
"Winners never quit, and quitters never win - however, if you never win, and never quit - then you are an idiot!"

This reminds me of something Mark Twain said. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If you still don't succeed, quit. There's no use being a damned fool about it."

I think you dad was right for salesmen, I'm not sure he was right about writers. I'd have quit the first month with those numbers. If I didn't receive seven yeses for every ten tries, I'd starve to death.

12-02-2004, 12:00 PM

Your father is a wise man - listen to him.
As a veteran salesman (15 years in the biotech trenches) I would add the following nuggets of my own, for what they're worth. Whether or not it pertains to the art of writing.....:

1. The successful salesman never accepts rejection. He learns to accept that rejection is part of the game and not to be taken personally. There is a difference, fine though it may be, because a successful salesman wants to know 'why' he was rejected and will take steps to correct it.

2. A salesman definitely needs a healthy dose of perseverance but the successful salesman knows his target better than his target knows himself. There is no such thing as a lucky successful salesman. Whoever said, "Luck is merely preparation meeting opportunity" was 100% correct.

3. And finally,

<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>What's the difference between a successful salesman and a failure?<hr></blockquote>
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>The successful one doesn't count the failed calls. He only counts the sales.<hr></blockquote>

Maestro, you're on the right track but left out the most important part - the successful salesman only counts the sales after he has figured out why the failed calls failed. That's the key, the Holy Grail, etc. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!
Find out the reason for a rejection and take steps to correct it. Only then, if unsuccessful, should you consider moving on.

My two cents worth, everybody. Good luck, OP, and hang in there!!

12-02-2004, 01:42 PM
No, but you see, if the salesman fails those calls because of "him" then he wouldn't have been successful. A successful salesman has already gotten that holy grail. He knows that his failed calls are out of his control anyway, and there's no reason to even think about it.

12-02-2004, 08:22 PM
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>He knows that his failed calls are out of his control anyway, and there's no reason to even think about it<hr></blockquote>


I agree with you, the successful salesman has found the Holy Grail, i.e. the reason he his is successful. But I must disagree in one respect and that is.....he isn't successful because he's forgotten his failed calls. He's successful because he's learned from them.
I don't mean to split hairs or seem argumentative but its a very important distinction. Yes, not dwelling on your failures is important. But learning from them and putting what you've learned into practice is the most important part.

Not preaching - just relating years of sales experience. Hopefully it will benefit someone.

12-03-2004, 03:59 AM
Of course I know what you're saying. We should all learn from our failures... even when the failures are out of our control (frex, we call someone right when his wife just had a heart attack that morning... ouch!)

The original quote is "you don't count them," not "you don't learn from them." :p

But coming back to how it's relevant to writing.... I keep hearing writers talking about how they keep their rejection letters, and they count 420 of them, etc. etc. And I ask myself: WHY? Did you learn something from them already? Or are you going to go back some time later, re-read them and say, wow, now I can learn something from this rejection?

I don't keep rejection letters. I used to, when I first started out, but not anymore. Now, I toss them away immediately. I do, however, put a mark on my list --"rejected" and perhaps another mark if the agent/publisher is receptive, personable, etc. or is open for future submission -- that means they are still a prospect, just not for THIS product.

Then I move on.

I don't "count" them.

All I need is one success call. I don't really care if I had 100, 200, or 1000 rejections already. I don't count them.

I think that's the difference between real sales and selling your ms. In sales, you want repeat sales. You want to fill your quota. In writing, however, you only need to make ONE sale. So the mentality is slightly different here.

12-03-2004, 05:22 PM
Everyone has there own approach. I throw my rejections away, but others get a strange sort of motivation form keeping them. Perhaps to avoid letting the rejection-hurt put them off submitting at all?

12-03-2004, 11:22 PM
I guess to me rejections are rarely any form of "motivation" and keeping them around will only depress me some day (when I'm down cuz of real life). Keeping them around would be like a time-bomb for me. I'd rather move on and not think about, especially not "how many" rejections I've gotten.

12-03-2004, 11:26 PM
I agree; counting your rejections is a waste of time.

12-04-2004, 02:35 AM
Maestro, I agree with you that sales and selling a manuscript are different. The common thread running through both was how I react to rejection.

I suppose I'll be able to put this experience into practice as I put the finishing touches on my completed manuscript and begin querying possible agents soon after. Wish me luck!

12-04-2004, 03:19 AM
Good luck! I think your sales experience would help you immensely with the submission process. You know what it's about. And the good news is, you don't have a quota. All you need is one sale!

Good luck.

12-04-2004, 08:48 AM
I keep rejections mostly to remember where I've submitted stuff. I don't count them... madness lies that way...

12-08-2004, 05:10 AM
Selling a product is one thing, but selling a manuscript is entirely different. I am a salesperson who has been "through the ringer" on numerous occasions. The difference is a salesperson (and not even a good one at that) will always sell. (Someone ALWAYS needs your product.) A writer...maybe not at all.

For one thing, if someone comes to your store and is looking over your merchandise, you're not completely heartbroken/depressed/despondent that they didn't buy. You don't really give a crap one way or another because more will come. They are always coming.

When you sell a manuscript, you are putting something intimate out there for the world (or maybe a crabby editor with terrible hemorroids who snickers at your pitiful attempt at the written word) to see. So if anyone has anything bad to say about it, and they ALWAYS do, then you try as hard as you can not to take it personally.

I have kept my rejections in a LARGE manilla envelope lovingly entitled "Love Letters". I don't hang onto them out of self-pity, but as a reminder of how much I've grown as a writer.

The first rejections hurt (the dreaded form letter), but as I worked on the ms and sent more out there, they've become personal responses. Not much more (other than a contract) to hope for.

Ignore this if it doesn't help. And I'm almost positive that it won't. ha ha ha