You gotta sell yourself, you gotta sell yourself man!!! — A Bum on Hollywood Blvd.
I was 18 years old at the time and I only had a few months to go before my first of four kids would be born. My plan to feed my growing family……. selling rendition perfumes on the streets of Hollywood, California to anyone that would listen. If you don’t know already, rendition perfumes are the ones that smell like the real perfumes but there is a small difference. They’re cheap and fake. I was alone, hungry, embarrassed, and seriously running on empty. I started to get pretty discouraged and decided that smoking a cigarette would make things better……for the moment at least. As I was leaning against the wall smoking away my stress, I saw a homeless man begging for money on the nearby street corner.
He had a styrofoam cup filled with dollar bills and coins and he just walked back and forth begging the people who passed by for money. I, on the other hand, had a legitimate product that I was selling, and I was at least offering a product in exchange for money. A crappy product yes, but a product nonetheless. It was very obvious that I was being out maneuvered by a drunk with some serious cleanliness issues. It didn’t take long before I got pretty pissed off and actually walked over to him to let off a little steam. I told him that I thought it was B.S. that he was begging and getting free money for nothing while I was selling a legitimate product and no one was buying. I told him all about my troubles and why I needed the money more than he did. Worse yet, I told him that I deserved it more than he did. I will never forget what he said. It looks like a movie in my head when I look back at it now.
He walked away with a drunken gait saying, “You gotta sell yourself…………you gotta sell yourself man!!!”
At the time I was enraged. It wasn’t until years later that I realized he had given me the best advice I have ever heard on how to be a good salesperson.
Something to ponder:
People give you charity because they think you’re not going anywhere and you don’t have any choices left. Charity will only be enough to get by or exist on. It will never be enough to thrive and grow on. On the other hand, people buy things from sales people that are going somewhere or have a chance of being successful. Now, it helps to have a good product and we certainly do, but it’s definitely not necessary. The only necessary part is getting the customer to realize what you are really selling. You’re selling them the ability to buy into your dream. Why? Because they don’t have one. They gave up. You are doing what they wish they had the balls, or ovaries, to do. You are trying to succeed and grab a hold of your dream.
When I sold 30 Kirby’s in two weeks I made over $15K from selling me (not the Kirby) more than anything. I let my customers know I was trying to break the world record (I didn’t come close). I told them how I was upset that an American did not hold the title. I told them I was excited to own my own business. I told them how much I loved what I did. I proved to them that I was worth their investment in me and my business. I represented what they wanted to do with their lives. And if they couldn’t, at least they would help me so that they could be a part of my success. If you don’t believe that people want to live through your success then ask yourself why a fan of a football team acts like he/she won the game, even though he/she never left the couch. It’s because that is as close as they’re going to get to being a champion. The football team’s win, is their win. Your win, is the customers win. And yeah, they get a great product too!
NOTE: Whenever possible the names of any sources that have contributed are mentioned. With that said, tracing the origin of any wisdom learned can be difficult. I have done my best to list these sources on our website under the page titled “Sources”.