Saturday, 20 November 2010

"You're not the devil. You're practice!"

I appreciate a lesson I'd learned from the movie Batman Begins which I now use regularly. In fact I only caught it on my third viewing, sometime early this year. In the movie, Bruce Wayne deliberately got himself thrown into a prison so he could fight criminals behind locked doors. Well, that was probably one extreme way to reach his purpose...but there was something precious which I've kept with me ever since.  

Man (whispers to Bruce): They are going to fight you.
Bruce: Again?
Man: Until they kill you.
Bruce: Can they kill me before breakfast?

Big man: You are in hell, little man. And I am the devil.
Bruce: You are not the devil. You're practice.

(Bruce fights with men)

Guard (while carrying Bruce away): Solitary!
Bruce: Why?
Guard: For protection.
Bruce: I don't need protection.
Guard: Protection for them (pointing to men groaning in pain).

Ever since then, I always use that quote to remind myself when I face adversities or adversaries: They're not the devil, they're just practice. I've lost count how many times that one quote has helped to lift me up from the floor.

Today at my work place, a sales consultant was really down after being verbally assaulted by an idiotic shopper who had no intention of buying anything at our retail store. His sole purpose was to heap insults and "pee" on a particular brand (world renown) which my colleague represents. One minute into their conversation, I knew this guy was a trouble-maker. But I didn't stop nor interrupt them. Ten minutes later, I could see the physiology of my colleague changed into someone who was totally battered. He told me he just wants to quit working for that brand, and that he's in need of counselling ever since he became its specialist.

I really felt sorry for the sales consultant as this incident wasn't his first time, and it definitely won't be his last. I took him off the sales floor to have a drink outside. Everyday we have thousands of shoppers in our store, and every salesman probably talk to at least a hundred of them daily. During my observation over three weeks, I could see that less than one percent of shoppers really do have the intention to cost trouble. About five percent unintentionally cause problems, and some are just plain rude. And then there are the skeptics and there are those who perceive sales assistants as "stalkers"! But most are normal shoppers and many are happy buying customers. Many of them are even repeated customers. I mean, our sales reports don't lie, the numbers are there. The millions that we make in our monthly sales revenue (should) keep everyone in the company and the business partners happy.

So I suggested to the consultant that he could view such trouble-makers as just an insignificant statistical number which is part of the overall business. I said "that guy is just your practice" because I know over time, he's gonna make many customers very happy, so why focus on the few insignificant morons and let them knock him down. I also found out all these while, he had low self-confidence and self-esteem as he possess very little academic qualifications and being stepped upon and ill-treated by all his past and current employers. I advised him to focus on honing his selling skills. I'm both convinced and persuaded that if one could successfully learn how to handle customers' objections and face rejections courageously everyday, there is nothing too difficult for him, he'll be unstoppable in any chosen endeavour. The mastery of this ability has very little to do with formal education. I think this is a good place to insert another one of Jim Rohn's famous quotes, one of my favourites:
"Formal education will make you a living, but informal education will make you a fortune".   
Everyday, for the past three weeks I observe how the top sales people in my company engage in selling and serving their customers. Initially I couldn't understand why would their past customers keep going back to them to buy computers, often times buying a few over a ridiculously short period of time. Just didn't make sense to me! I patiently observe the differences of the top sales men from the average. One of them even revealed to me a few secrets on how he "catch his fishes". Those lessons are too lengthy to fit into this post. By the way, I had learned none of them from my so-called high and expensive formal education, I'm learning them from these so-called under-educated but hungry colleagues. A few of them sometimes earn (commission) higher incomes than their managers! I'm now sharpening my skills with them every day.

So, for my dejected colleague, I hope he realized that by practicing selling really well, he can one day "free" himself to do whatever he chooses to do. But for things to change, he has to change how he view himself, not the cruel world out there. Sadly, today is also my last day working together with him as I just received the call for relocation to a bigger store next week. Bigger store = more problems coming my way....I really meant more practices!


Anonymous said...

Well played. I wholly agree and will try this.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I find a lot of inspiration and motivation in the Nolan Batman series of films too, they're filled with great quotes that surprisingly make a lot of sense and help me whenever I'm faced with adversity. One of my favorites is: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it, but that's the point of Batman. He can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make.The right choice.