For those of you who have visited or lived in New York City, you will fully understand what I am writing about. For those of you in sales that have never visited NYC, please do… it will open your eyes.

Times Square has every character you can imagine "hawking" a picture, a bus tour, a show or a store for the tourist to hand over money.  They are told "no" 99 iStock/Joanne1234times out of 100. They get laughed at; they get cussed at; yet the next day there they are once again.

I watched one particular character, selling bus tours, for about 10 minutes and he did not sell anything. The next day — there he was again! I stopped by the spot they board the tourists and asked one of the people working why they do this day after day and asked does it really pay, does it offer them something other than a paycheck, does it lead to something?  The answer was, "It's a living, and I am looking for something better." It seems that most do move on to that “something better,” but it may take some time.

Then I read an article in a local paper about how a young girl was taking a lead performance for the play "Chicago" on Broadway while the main lead went on a month-long vacation.  This young lady started out "hawking" tickets on Times Square for that same play, and then went to being a Broadway character on Times Square. The truth is, these people do these jobs for that one-in-a-million chance to audition.

In our sales lives, we may complain, but we have it easy compared to the Times Square sales people. Yet, we can really learn from them. 

Today is a new day full of promise and opportunity.  As a professional sales person, if you give up after one call and feel you cannot make the sale or you want to be happy sending an e-mail to a prospect because you are tired of “no,” then you are not doing your job.

The very, very best sales people are good for one reason: They were told no 99 times out of 100, six days a week, and they kept on doing it.

They say Broadway will chew out the talent and drive and only leave the very best left standing. I say it is not the most talented, it is the most driven that are now starring on Broadway.  They took the laughs, the criticism, the downgrading, and then went right back at it until they succeeded. 

You must be willing to keep calling on those prospects you know need your products or services. You must be willing to be told “no.” You must be willing to be made fun of, like "Here comes ol' Brett to make his monthly visit," and you must be willing to be the person left standing in the lobby as "Mr. or Ms. Competitor" is escorted right in. 

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Watch and listen. Observe. You can learn a lot from the lobby if you stay off the phone and refrain from reading a magazine or wondering around looking at pictures and plaques. Listen to what is being said by everyone and jot down notes of things you hear.

In a sales call just like this, I heard three people talking about a new office they were moving to. After I was told that the prospect had no time for me, I went to my car and sent an e-mail to him.  I informed him that I would love to see him before they moved to the new office, and then I wished him success. I added that my services would be of use in the new office and could ensure it was clean and suited for their professional needs. I got an e-mail reply within five minutes! They are still a customer today.

You have to be willing to take “no” as an answer but also willing to observe and be ready to push your way through.

Brett Bemis has more than 20 years of outside sales experience and is currently the general sales manager for Stanley Steemer in St. Louis. He supervises and conducts sales training for the St. Louis, Mid Missouri, Lake Ozark, MO, and Key West, FL Stanley Steemer locations, as well as manages the restoration and insurance relationships in these locales. Bemis can be reached at