“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
That is a Wayne Gretzky quote. For those that do not follow sports, he is one of the greatest hockey players of all time. It also happened to be the words that were on my mind as I started hitting up tradeshow booths during the last day of the AAOS show to pitch them on using Enhatch. What was I thinking going up to these folks to pitch them and distracting them from the surgeons attending the show?
Well, it turns out things went way better than expected, but I had to get out of my own psychology and hesitancy in being so direct. I had to battle through possible rejection and humiliation and ire. The thing is, those are scenarios that exist in your head and have nothing to do with reality because they haven’t happened yet. They are misguided fears that the mind conjures up to stop you from taking that first risky step.
Now mind you, I am probably a bit more forward that most and I have been selling stuff for quite a few years. This seemed different though, because I know next to nothing about the medical device industry — I have no network to rely upon, and the atmosphere is decidedly more professional than other industry tradeshows. I really felt out of my element with little to help me stand my ground. I was going in cold.
I was at a distinct disadvantage. It would be awkward to simply go up to a booth and ask for the “marketing person” or the “head of sales,” so I decided to take a different tack and target only the bigger booths (representing companies that most likely had the money to buy our type of solution given the marketing spend), and gather a few key names of folks at those companies through LinkedIn. Thus I had my list.
With a plan in place, I went in with confidence. I tackled booths one by one, making sure that they were not too busy so as not to distract them from their focus on surgeon customers. I walked up to a free person, asked if such and such person was around, and let things proceed from there. Sometimes said person was not there so I left a card and got their contact info. Sometimes the person was there, so I got an introduction and went into a quick two minute pitch with demo in hand. Sometimes I was guided to someone that was an even better contact. I never got a flat out rejection. Instead of missing 100% of the shots I never took, I got 100% of my shots off and they could very well lead to a few goals down the road.
The lesson? Be bold. We all hate rejection, so the challenge is to overcome our own fears and simply plow ahead. When you go in cold, find a way to get an inside advantage and increase your odds of success. Having the names helped measurably because it instantly broke the ice and established credibility. But the point is that rejection is not something to fear. You can never find success if you hesitate and hold back. In fact, your greatest successes may come when you thought you never even had a chance.
Image credit: CC by Tiffany Lane