When I was in 8th grade we had raffle selling contest to raise money for our school. The student who sold the most raffle tickets won a prize.
I remember being determined to win that contest. I sold tickets to all my Dad’s friends. I went out every day. I went door to door in my neighborhood and the adjoining neighborhoods. I rang doorbells, gave presentions, appealed to peoples good nature and sold like crazy. I busted my ass selling those things.
I learned a lot selling the tickets. I learned that there are many different reasons or motives people buy. Some people bought from me because they wanted to support the school. Others bought because I was a young kid out hustling and working hard. Some bought because they wanted the Grandfather clock. Others bought because they felt guilty. You’d be amazed at all the different reasons people will buy a raffle ticket from a kid. (I bet girlscouts know all about this)
As the number of doors I knocked on, and the number of doorbells I rang grew, I started to figure out what peoples motives were before the dialog would start. With this sense I would target my pitch, to what I thought would motive them. (yes it was a pitch, not much room for consultative selling on a doorstep). I wasn’t always right. Sometimes I had to switch my tactics midstream. But, overtime I got good at it and learned selling to each persons unique motives sold a lot more raffle tickets.
The more motives I uncovered, the more prepared I was to sell.
I learned a lot about selling during those two weeks. I learned that people buy for a lot of different reasons and to assume there is only one or two motives can cost you a sale. I learned that hustle and grit go a long way. I learned I like to sell. I learned I like to compete. I also learned life isn’t fair.
On the last day of the raffle contest, I was reved-up. I was convinced I was going to win. I had sold 10 books or 100 raffle tickets.
As school started we were sitting in homeroom and I was asking everyone how many they sold? Three books someone would say, two books, one and a half books, but no one was close. Except one kid. I couldn’t even tell you his name, so we’ll call him Bobby. He sold eight. Phew! Close!
Feeling confident in my victory, I sat back and waited for the afternoon assembly where they were going to announce the winner of the raffle selling contest.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the auditorium, waiting, proud to have my name called as the winner; the guy who sold the most raffle tickets. When I hear; “The winner of the raffle selling contest is . . . Bobby!”
I didn’t win! The kid who had sold eight won!?? I wanted a recount!
The kid who sold eight called his mother and she came and bought 4 more books pushing his total to 12.
I came in second and won a free ice cream sundae. I don’t remember what first place prize was. But I’ll never forget how bitter that ice cream sundae tasted.
I’ll always remember that experience. Despite how pissed I was, and I was pissed, I mean adult pissed off, it was a very influencing experience in my life.
I learned a lot from the 100 people who I sold raffle tickes to, at least twenty more lessons than Bobby, and that has been worth more than any prize Bobby’s mother won for him.