My weekend job at the airport is to approach strangers and ask them to fill out a survey. It is not glamorous, but it sure is human. At every international gate, I find people from all over the world. Some burnt-out and bone-tired from traveling for hours already, others waiting with eager eyes and flip flops in vacation mode bliss. My job is to read people, to greet them with kindness and sell them on filling out this voluntary, 15–20 minute survey for the Department of Commerce…
It’s not an easy sell. To be frank, the survey sucks. Rejection happens. Here’s what I’ve learned about selling from those “Uhh not interested…” people.
Rejection is inevitable.
To sell -- to persuade someone of the merits of something — requires communication skills. Whether you are trying to get someone to fill out a survey, buy a product, or hire you, date you, or help you, you need to know how to connect with people. Sometimes you won’t, and rejection is inevitable. You should keep selling anyway.
Some people will ignore you. They will give you no time of day. You will walk up to them and look them in the eye — but they are far too busy to see you. They will look away, mumbling an excuse as to why they don’t want what you’re offering. They will squirm and make you feel like a real perpetrator for putting them through this absolute misery of a conversation.
You will smile anyway. It will be a disheartened smile, but you will carry on.
You will get rejected once and then rejected twice. And the third time will make you wonder. Am I doing something wrong? You will start questioning yourself. Am I even any good at this? Can I really connect with people? I don’t know what I’m doing here.
But then you will approach another person, and right away they will see you. They will look you in the eye and listen. It’s like they’ve been anticipating your arrival, waiting for someone like you to come along. They will be absolutely smitten by your energy, your talent, the experiences that shaped you.
In this moment you will realize with sweet relief that you have been on the right path all along. Waiting to connect with the people who truly see your value, your potential, and the things that make you human.
She may be a kind woman who fills out your survey and says, “I don’t know why other people aren’t helping you, you’re such a treat!” Or he may be a potential client or company that wants you on his team. Or an endearing person who asks you out on a date. Or perhaps an acquaintance who drops you an encouraging like or line.
In the face of rejection, the people who see you will give you hope.
You cannot move every person. And you will not. But you will move a few. You will move the ones who share your worldview. The ones who believe what you believe. They will be receptive to your kindness and open to your ideas.
Keep going until you find the people who are open. To your vision, your talent, your soul.
They are out there. The only way to find them is to keep going.
Keep selling. Showing up. Talking. Connecting. Listening.
You will find them. I promise you this. I’ve talked to hundreds of people at the airport, and there is always, always someone who sees me.