Welcome, everyone, to 2011. As John Locke would say, it is Tabula Rasa time, a new year, a clean slate. With the clarity of a rearview mirror, we can each take a look back to see our triumphs and shortfalls in 2010. It was a tough selling year. And I am sure while each and everyone chugged along through the recovery, distributors heard far more “noes” than “yeses.”
This past weekend, I sat down to watch the quintessential Wall Street movie from the ’80s of the same name. Hal Holbrook’s character tells the newly “successful” account executive, Bud Fox (a.k.a. Charlie Sheen), to enjoy his time at the top because “it won’t last, it never does.” And no truer words were ever spoken. While the vast majority of us won’t end up in prison for insider trading like Bud Fox, there is an undeniable ebb and flow for all sales professionals. There will be those moments when you just can’t lose, when every hand you shake and call you make turns to gold. And on the flip side, there are those moments when you get nothing but doors slammed in your face—or so it seems. With budgets tight and resources low, 2010 was probably one of those years spent more on the flip side.
It is not a profession for the weak of heart. In fact, oftentimes the human resource department will look for individuals who it believes can handle rejection without being too sensitive or personally getting their feelings hurt every time the door closes.
If 2010 was the year of the closed door, then I believe 2011 will be the year where budgets rebound and doors begin to slowly swing open again. If you had the fortitude to push forward these last couple of years and not allow yourself to get steeped in negativity, all that effort and groundwork that was laid will begin to pay off. Bud Fox was looking for the quick buck and that never works out for the long term. There are really just a couple of keys to being successful in sales: optimism, product knowledge, persistence and creativity. Add these main ingredients to your Tabula Rasa for 2011. I am hopeful that it will be a year for us all to enjoy a little time at the top.