And you want to be my latex salesman?

And you want to be my latex salesman?

You gotta love George Costanza. If the man could have been as innovative in business as he was in his approach to dodging the unemployment office, who knows how successful he really could have become. Instead, we find him lying on the floor of Jerry’s apartment with his pants down, a pitiful scene of ineptitude.  Watch Clip

I consult with a lot of startups, but I haven’t had a scene quite like George’s happen in my office, yet –thankfully. I have seen many entrepreneurs who face the inevitable issue of “how do I get sales”. All too often they have been able to start a business based on a skill or expertise they have developed. They typically have some initial success with clients in their inner circle, but for many they will eventually be confronted with the predicament of prospecting for new business.

Prospecting and sales are scary words to a lot of them. What will people think of me? What if they say no? What if they think my prices are too high or I am not competent? What if my latex sucks? So many ways to talk yourself out of picking up the phone, knocking on doors, and meeting people. Instead, far too many entrepreneurs update their website or post on Facebook or other non-confrontational marketing methods. Don’t get me wrong, those are great. But wall posts and twitter are no substitute for handshakes and eye contact.

Hearing  “No” hurts, I get it. But so does sitting around in your pajamas in your older sibling’s basement waiting for a prospect to email or the cell to ring. It typically doesn’t work that way, and your brother-in-law’s glares at you for eating his Cap’n Crunch will begin to take their toll. At some point, you have to suck it up, change out of your sweat pants, put on the big-boy pants and start dialing, asking for referrals, and getting your butt off the couch.

You can try to hire it out, but as we can see with Vandelay Industries, you can’t rely on George to sell the latex. His motivations are often not the same as yours. A wise man recently told me to hire out the parts of the business you can, but whatever controls your destiny you better handle yourself. For most businesses, that invariably comes down to marketing and sales.

Dan Beenken is Director of the UNI Small Business Development Center

Share this post