Look, I know I’m not perfect. I goof up a lot. All entrepreneurs do. But sometimes my goof ups and the rest of the world collide — especially when trying to sell something. I suck at sales. Take, for example, yesterday at an industry event.
Here’s the scene: I introduced myself to a couple of companies that are potential targets. I’m pretty sure I was respectful. I listened carefully to what these companies do and I asked questions. Lots of questions. What is your focus? What do you stand for? What is your experience? I gave them the general overview of what our company does. You know, the standard things you do at an industry breakfast over salty eggs and coffee that tastes like a dirt-pine blend.
I didn’t dominate the conversation or try to sell anything. I was just, you know, gathering intel over salty eggs with some peers. One of the dudes I met was a COO. Apparently, according to him, he had already, in his esteemed career, solved all these problems that my company solves. Game over, man.
I excused myself a tad early for a call (and to separate myself from the Egg McWhatevers). But as luck (or maybe fate) would have it, I was able to come back to the table after the shorter-than-expected call. The Problem Solving Genius was gone, but my business card was not. It sat there in the center of the table like a lonely, windless sailboat. My card. My name. My company. Rejected. Just laying there flat backed. And in that moment everything I stood for was just kind of splayed out for all to see. My business card was all alone with the boneyard of breakfasts. I would like to admit it didn’t bother me, but it really got in my craw.
Eventually, I got over myself, sucked up my pride and picked up the untouched card and put it back in its rightful place – in my wallet next to my other undistributed cards.
Ego is a bitch. And mine is not immune. But there are some protocols that should be adhered to – one of them is never leave someone’s business card on the table — especially if they’re watching. You never know when you might meet that person again. Or when that person might be your ticket to the next big thing.
I suck as a salesperson, but I’m trying to be better. Sales are tough. Maybe the toughest thing you’ll ever do as an entrepreneur or founder or CEO, but I can confirm this from experience, a big sale never comes from a business card. So if someone leaves yours there on a table — walk away. Let it go. Sales comes from relationships not from abandoned cards.
(As an aside, always walk away from salty eggs when possible)