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The past few weeks at work I've been tasked with doing business development ("bizdev"): cold calling contacts I've dug up from the web and trying to get them interested in a service I'm offering.

The rejection associated with this has been somewhat disheartening... Contacting 20 people and organizations and not getting a single lead is a kick in the teeth for me. And when you 5x it and contact 100 people and still don't get a response, you seriously have to think "am I doing this wrong?"

What I've learned so far doing this:

  • Don't say no to anything, ever.
  • Suggesting your offering is limited in any way, shape, or form is giving "them" an excuse to hang up.
  • Keep trying. Keep leaving messages until they call back. It's not being needy: it's closing the deal.
  • It's not me -- a real saleguy pro is having the same level of luck. You've got to keep trying: it's a numbers game.

How these learnings paid off today:

This weekend we went white-water rafting on the Tuolomne river -- a lot of fun. I left my Jeep in San Francisco in a parking garage, and when we got back to San Francisco I found I had also left the dome light on.

Dead battery. Grrrr...

The funny thing is: I had taken the "roadway assistance kit bag" out of the Jeep because, knowing I was going to park in SF over the weekend, I didn't want to return to another busted window.

My jumper cables were in the roadway assistance bag.


On the plus side: I was parked in a high-trafficked area: cars were always coming in and out of the garage all the time.

Normally I'd be hung up on the idea of hassling people to solve my problems... But Kragen was closed and I had this newly toughened sales skin and I started waving cars over.

  • Station wagon with two Vietnamese kids: no cables.
  • Older couple in a suburban: no cables.
  • Mexican lady: no cables.
  • White guy: no cables.
  • A young black couple fighting: (ok, I chickened out on them -- they were yelling too much at each other).
  • Another mexican lady: didn't stop.

Should I be getting discouraged yet? Kinda. I saw a Porsche stop at the entrance to the garage -- Chinese 20-something kid driving. I asked Weili: "what's the chance an Asian in a Porsche is going to help?"

"None." she said matter-of-factly.

I didn't bother trying to wave him over -- but he circled back and parked near us.

He walked by and I got the impression he'd help even less: he was a chinese guy with Japanese Rock Star moussed fauxhawked hair. Driving a $100,000 car. With fancy pointed shoes.

He walked by us and I channeled Glengarry Glen Ross -- or maybe it was Boiler Room. Whichever one said "a sale not tried is a sale failed."

It didn't take much to hassle him: "Hiya, excuse me -- do you have jumper cables we could use for a minute?" And I pointed to my Jeep with the hood popped.


2 minutes later I was using a fancy "separated" jumper cable (you attach the crocodile clips to both cars, and then join the two pieces of cable together -- no sparking) thanks to the Porsche kid: it was great to hear my engine go "vrroooooommmmmm...!"

If there's a moral to this story, it is: "keep hassling people until you get what you want."

Now I know how those kids on Mountain View's Castro Street (who hassle everyone with their "Save the Ocean" fake charity pandering) work: get enough numbers, eventually you'll land a sale.

I hope all this brings me closer to landing a big fish at work someday soon.