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I get a lot of inspirational messages in my social media life.


Yeah, I guess old Cos just went out there and did it, didn't he?

Yeah, I guess old Cos just went out there and did it, didn’t he?

Most are from people fixated on success.

Success in what?

Oh, stuff. I guess. Just success. There’s this thing called “success” that everyone seems to want. We want to be successful.

These same people don’t seem to post much about whatever it is they’re trying to be successful doing. Some are in real estate. Others are tech administrative types. Some are other writers.  Some are salespeople. I don’t see them posting much about those topics. Just “success.”

I sometimes wonder what would happen if they posted about their chosen vehicle of success — or their actual interests and such. Or whatever constitutes their vision of success. Maybe that would be a better use of time and energy. Maybe in the moment they posted something real, they’d  find it actually pushed them more towards “success.”

But, see, that’s hard. We’d rather talk empty platitudes about success than do what’s necessary to be successful. Anyway, when you really try at something there’s a real exposure to failure. You actually were trying, and you really, actually couldn’t do it. You failed. For real. It’s far easier on one’s ego to stand off to the side and talk about “success.”

Also, posting your vision of success is dangerous for a few reasons. Someone might make fun of you. Or you might suddenly realize — yourself — it’s kinda dumb, and thus, you are kinda dumb.

What brought this to mind was a Tweet from this startup doing something — I don’t know what — in the area of sales software. They really haven’t gotten it off the ground yet, but it looks promising. It looks promising for this reason: They get what sales is about. And it’s not “sales:”

If you want to stop talking like a salesperson, you need to quit immersing yourself in the world of sales. Instead, focus on being a genuine person and speak the customers language. Focus on understanding your prospects and really getting to know them.

Don’t ask your prospects questions just so you can get closer to the sale. Ask your prospects questions because you are genuinely interested.

When you show genuine interest in someone else, you will begin to sound like a genuine person and not like a salesperson.

One college summer I worked selling videotape duplication for a horribly shoddy business in south Phoenix. Those three months taught me a lot. One of the sales managers — this stout, red-bearded fireplug of a man named Jack Barry (a great name for a stout sales manager ) — always harped on one thing in our morning pep-talk rah-rah sessions: Don’t sell things! Talk story and make friends!

That’s because you might think your function is selling videotape duplication or whatever, but what you’re really doing is making friends. You’re making a whole network of friends who want to do stuff for you because you are their friend.

So while the “success minded” sales people are reading up on sales techniques and watching another seminar on YouTube and filling voicemail boxes with bland scripts and probing the psychological mind of the ideal buyer or whatever, the guy who’s actually selling stuff is having long conversations with those buyers themselves, probably talking about Transformers movies, GWAR, hemp hats, or interesting things found in people’s rectums at emergency rooms. Anything. Whatever connects with them. Eventually, they’ll ask you about the latest offerings in your catalog, because you seem like a cool person. Not like one of those nads who sounds like a salesman. You know, the kind fixated on success.

The guy who gets the sale is the one with the relationship with the customer: not the guy who’s fixated on success.

And the successful person is the one who does something–anything more than idolizing success by means of words on colorful jpegs.