Sell me this article

Future U.S. President Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has a new movie coming out and it’s called Skyscraper.

I know this, not because I will be lining up to see it, but because there have been quite a few articles being written about the movie’s poster on social media, questioning the physics of The Rock being able to jump the distance the poster suggests.

The debate this generated got my attention, as many people were stating it’s a movie, so it should be taken with a pinch of salt, whilst others were trying to strengthen their opinions with scientific research.

Admittedly, most of the content is written with tongue firmly in cheek, but it reminded me of my biggest obstacle that I had to overcome prior to starting RevUp, which was accepting that I was a real salesperson and not someone pretending to be a salesperson and in particular the part Hollywood had in this.

As a child growing up in the 80’s and 90’s era of VHS, Blockbuster Video and Sky Box Office, I have readily consumed a 40 year long diet of Hollywood movies, which has resulted in some positive influences such as the training montages from the Rocky films, which never fail to get me pumped prior to a workout (I know it’s sad), to Neo facing Agent Smith in The Matrix and the importance of self-belief in the pursuit of a goal.

But like life in general, you have to tackle negative influences as well as the positive ones.

For many, Hollywood has negatively influenced their self-esteem with unrealistic expectations being projected in regards to body shape or relationship goals, but although these have also had an impact on me, perhaps the hardest influence I have had to overcome professionally is the warped sense of what a salesperson looks and behaves like.

18 years ago, I hadn’t planned to start a career in Sales, and instead, like many people in their twenties I just wanted to earn some money to pay for my next overseas trip, or beer down the pub, so didn’t pay much attention to my professional development.

In my thirties, as the weight got heavier on my shoulders; my role titles got fancier and the payroll got bigger, but if I’m honest, I still didn’t see myself as a salesperson, because when I talked to the successful sales people around me, I didn’t see common experience amongst them that I shared (or that they shared with each other).

This earlier lack of personal investment in my professional life and the later lack of observed validation of my sales capability meant that I always felt like an imposter in Sales.

When I looked for external influences to answer whether I was actually a sales person, I of course looked to the medium that answered all of my life questions up to that point, Hollywood.

“Hollywood.  Am I a sales person?  Please help” I asked.

The answers were not great for my self-esteem.

‘Sell me this pen’ was one of the responses from my memory bank.

Another was ‘Greed is good’.

For those of you who don’t know, these lines are from the movies ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘Wall Street’ respectively.

Both these movies represent Sales as a profession that is unethical, transactional and reliant on pressuring customers into a purchase.

These words were not ones that I related to in my experience of sales and so, I felt that I wasn’t a ‘real’ sales person and instead I must have just been lucky, or been in the right place at the right time throughout my career up to that point.

After much existential pondering, I discovered that comparing myself to fictional or stylised versions of real characters from Hollywood movies was not a healthy way to decide on whether to continue my Sales career in New Zealand beyond my thirties.

This was because of two main reasons;

1) The most obvious reason is that it’s HOLLYWOOD!  It’s not real! ‘Real’ doesn’t shift movie tickets.  Showing Jordan Belfort make 20 cold calls before he closed a deal wouldn’t make an entertaining watch on the big screen.

2) The second reason is that New Zealand isn’t America.  America has 325M people, whilst New Zealand has 4.6M.  America also has a geographical area of 9.8 million km2 to New Zealand’s 750,000 km2.  America has over 10 cities with populations greater than 1 million, whilst New Zealand has one.  This means the way we do business is different; relationship building Vs cold calling, face to face selling Vs telephone based and value based Vs transactional.

Once I had come to the realisation that the Hollywood Sales image wasn’t real and relevant to the market in which I was operating, I then looked at things more objectively and this time when I looked at a common theme amongst the good sales people I knew in New Zealand, I recognised it was strong professional ethics, investment in long term relationships and above all, authenticity.

Now these were traits that I could relate to.

Thankfully, I have never been a shiny faced, pinstriped suited ‘boiler room’ sales person who could supposedly close every deal on the phone; by balancing the perfect sales script with just the right amount of pressure exerted on my prey, oops I meant customer.

But now instead of feeling that I need to cover that up with excuses or denial, I can be proud to call myself a salesperson in New Zealand, because that isn’t what Sales in New Zealand is all about.

Sales in New Zealand, is about many things, but the main three are;

Respect in your customer’s ability to recognise the value in the solution your product or service is providing, rather than trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Building trust through long term relationships.  Not just expecting them to sign on the dotted line because they were on your call cycle and you bought them a coffee once.

Being authentic in the way you are as a sales person.  Sales people think that they can read people, but good sales people understand that they too are being read.  The best way to manage that is to be genuine all the way.

So, to conclude my article and hopefully tie up any loose ends, I need to circle around to where the article all began, which is whether Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson can achieve what appears to be an impossible feat for any mere mortal, which is to save a group of people stuck in a helpless situation, by taking a leap of faith reliant solely on his own ability (and some camera trickery), whilst also ignoring all the doubters along the way.

Well, I guess many Americans will find out on 3rd December 2020 (Presidential Election results).

But if you can’t wait that long, then the Skyscraper movie comes out in July this year.

Many thanks for reading all and I look forward to sharing my next article with you in 7 days.

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