I’m sorry… we can’t!

Years ago I ran an independent training consultancy. My niche was in marketing communication with a deep specialization in business writing (not copywriting, simply writing in a business context). As expected, things were a little shaky at the outset. I didn’t know where to start and most importantly where I’d wanted to go!

The biggest obstacle was finding clients and marketing myself. I’m not a natural sales person. But I also knew that selling is a skill and just like any other skill it can be acquired. Or so I thought.

I wanted to learn from the best. So I reached to one of the biggest sales training agencies in the world for a program in sales and business development. I called them up and connected with someone in their sales team. He asked me a set of questions. And I gave him a set of answers. Finally, this person stops me cold and asked if I plan to train people as well. I said, yes, of course! I need to walk the talk after all.

And paused for a brief while. Took a deep breath and said, “Sorry, Sunil. We cannot have you sign up for this program.” I asked him, “Why?” To which he responded, “we cannot be teaching our content/material to a competitor.” And then he hung up. That’s it!

How insane?

It got me thinking though. A multi-million dollar company thinks of me as a treat? A competitor? My business is in the red and had not even taken off! What’s wrong with these people?

I called them back. Got hold of this person again and tried to explain that I need to take this course because I’m struggling and I need to learn and understand how businesses develop and nurture revenue-generating opportunities. I even offered them double the amount that the course was listed for! (Didn’t really help the matters. This person got even more suspicious and hung up! Again!)

My biggest learning from that incident was this: being desperate won’t get you anywhere but down in the dumps. I had a hard time understanding the rationale behind why this company would see me as a threat. Heck, it’s been 7 years since that incident and I still don’t have a clue.

But that incident helped me to sharpen my focus and allowed me to learn from not just one but several sources. Resources, mentors, public conferences and everything in between! The exposure simply opened my mind.

Now, I don’t consider myself an expert in sales and/or business development. Not even close. (Lack of practice! I decided to ditch being a solopreneur and get back to working full-time with people around me.) But I surely would take little time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Most importantly, the experience led me to freely share my knowledge with anyone and everyone who seem to be interested. I don’t see a point in accumulating all that knowledge and wisdom only to die and be buried six feet under. Learn and share. That’s the mantra. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry we can’t….” try “hey, that’s great! Let me show you how I do it!”

And that’s the beauty of having an open mind. You learn from all and pick the ones that work for you the best. It is time-consuming but essentially, it’s the best strategy out there to learn something new.

By the way, the company I mentioned earlier. After being rejected, I bought a couple of their published books. Learned the principles, applied them, bombed a lot, won a few clients and then organized a small workshop. And I gave it away for free! Everything I knew and had learned.

If you can’t… I most surely will. 😉

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