When I was in college, I took a sales job, selling spas at local carnivals to raise money for my first 16mm film. The first few weeks were pretty tough. Aside from the fact most people who visit a carnival have no intention of purchasing a 10-thousand dollar hot tub, there were a few success lessons I had not yet learned.
Let me explain. I would arrive early in the morning and set up the booth. I armed myself with glossy brochures and made sure the hot tubs were spic-n-span. Then as people came under my tent, I would eagerly and enthusiastically demonstrate the value of our hot tubs. Many times people would show interest, ask for a brochure and walk away. You know what? I never heard from them again. And I never made a sale.
Then one day, an old-timer took me aside. He was one of these old salts, from the old school of selling. He had dropped out of high school and unlike me, was never a college boy. But that didn’t matter. He was the top sales guy in the company – and he knew a thing or two about getting people to take action.
You know why you ain’t selling?
No. These people seem interested.
That’s because they are. With your enthusiasm, you could have outsold every guy on this team, including me. But you got one problem. Never once did you ask for people to buy. Kid, if you don’t ask, you’ll never get.
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With my new found information, after each demo, any time someone showed interest in the hot tub I always asked if they wanted to get one. Obviously my question was in the context of conversation. But I did ask. And you know what, asking for what I wanted made me the top sales guy on the team.
After that summer, I not only had money to make my 16mm film, but I also learned a lesson that has stuck with me to this day. In the movie industry, you will not get anything unless you’re willing to ask for it.