I am the Mother F-Ing Umbrella Guy!

Fifteen plus years ago, I was on one of my very first sales calls in my new-found career as a promotional products salesman. A friend had graciously referred me to his boss who was looking to purchase umbrellas to give away to clients and employees as potential holiday gifts. I gathered my samples, put on a suit, and made my way to the meeting at their offices in Hollywood. The receptionist (who seemed all of fourteen years old) barely acknowledged my existence when I told her why I was there and who I had come to see. Without as much as a glance, she picked up the phone, dialed an extension and proceeded to utter the following words–words that would invariably change my life forever:

“The umbrella guy is here.”

Two words entered my mind in that instance. F*&k me! How in the hell did I become “the umbrella guy?”

Born and raised in New York City, a degree from the University of Southern California, my last real job had been working as director of development for Kiefer Sutherland at 20th Century Fox (Yes, that Kiefer Sutherland—Jack Bauer himself). And now at thirty years old, I was the freaking umbrella guy! Suffice to say, I did not make the sale.

I will get into the specifics of how my career path so radically changed at a later date. In the meantime, the purpose of this entry is to elaborate on the requirement for the appropriate mindset where the salesperson is concerned.

You see, when I went on that first sales call over fifteen years ago, there’s no way in hell the lowly “umbrella guy” was going to close that or any other sale.

Selling anything: houses, real estate, stocks, airplanes, pens, dogs, whatever, takes a certain amount of confidence and cockiness; one that requires to you believe that you are the be-all/end all master of your domain (whatever that domain might be). My mistake (and I never could have known it at the time) was in not embracing my new title as “umbrella guy.”

Here’s how the do-over might look with fifteen years of hindsight:

“The umbrella guy is here,” mumbled the half-witted, wanna-be actress/receptionist.

“That’s right!” said the umbrella guy. “The mother-f&*king UMBRELLA GUY is here! So get up off your lazy, no-talent ass and take me to your precious leader so I can slam dunk this bitch and get on to my next appointment.”

Ok, maybe not in those exact words. But something with a little more swagger that would have elicited even a minimal amount of confidence. Perhaps a casual joke about my new found title as The Umbrella Guy? Anything to show how truly at peace I was with myself and my place in the world. “Actually I go by the umbrella God if you must know.” Unfortunately, I was completely unclear about my identity at the time and what my purpose in the world was.

It took some time for me to figure it out, but in the end confidence is king when selling. If you’re just starting out, give it time. It will come. Success doesn’t happen overnight with anything or for anyone (despite what you might believe). Also, you can’t really be confident if you don’t know what you’re talking about. If I teach you nothing else, remember this simple tid-bit: KNOW YOUR SHIT. I’m successful because I know my shit. I know as much about the products I sell as I can. My customers rely on me to be their eyes, ears and brains when it comes to the products I offer.

I make a living because I provide a service. And I do it very well. Whatever you need, I’m your guy. I’m you hat guy, your coffee mug guy, your sweatshirt guy, your pen guy, your t-shirt guy, your usb flash drive guy, your messenger bag guy, and of course, your mother f-ing umbrella guy. I am your merchandise guy and I will do anything and everything to make my your life easier.

This is how I sell and I’ve found it very effective. It’s win-win for me and my customers. Give it a try. Let me know how it works for you.


 

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