William Shatner and Sales

By | February 23, 2011

Tim Askew - CEO Corporate Rain InternationalThere was a very nice personality profile of William Shatner in the New York Times by Pat Jordan. Shatner, of course, came to fame in 1966 in Star Trek. He speaks with a charming combination of resignation and bemusement about how his life has been ruled by his type-casting as Captain Kirk. This role defined Shatner more than any actor’s role I can think of. He got wildly rich on stock options from his 1997 commercial for discount travel company Priceline, playing a preposterously pompous exaggeration of his real pomposity as Kirk. “I. Am. Captain. James. Kirk.” There is a sweetness in Shatner’s wry acceptance of his lot.

The article on Shatner got me thinking about sales and type-casting. Type-casting is something that only very successful actors need to worry about. Nevertheless, it’s a thing that anyone touching on sales should think about. To wit, successful sales pitches can lead to sales failure if one falls captive to them.

One of the things I noticed early in my life as an accidental salesman was that if I started pushing myself too hard or too long without a break I sometimes drifted into a kind of catatonic gibbering, gobbling Tim Askew imitation, lacking spontaneity and any sense of being humanly present. The words were the same, only uttered by a ghostly empty shell. I learned to take regular breaks and look for opportunities to change my patterns of speaking, listening, and being. I became very willing to mess up a bit, if that kept me in a place of reality and spontaneity. This allowed me to remain free, happy, unbored and compelling in my work. Real.

These days, in my own executive sales outsourcing company, I prefer that my associates not work over 25 hours/week formally selling, unless there is a client emergency. You just do better if you stay fresh. I even tell them not to worry about selling success, just to tell the truth simply and fiercely. Though I know hundreds of sales books disagree, I honestly don’t personally see sales as much more than that.

Call me simple. Thanks, Mr. Shatner.

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8 thoughts on “William Shatner and Sales

  1. Jay Tapp

    Hi Tim,

    I heartily agree with your view on selling. In fact I have always found the fierce truth to always be the best approach.

    selling success = just to tell the truth simply and fiercely.

  2. Chuck Gehman

    Being a “trekkie”, You got my attention by mentioning Shatner. But this is very astute, thanks for articulating this so well. I think this thought process applies to many roles, not just sales.

  3. Liz White

    Nice post. I would love to work no more than 25 hours a week formally selling. In the absence of that reality, I find that mid-day power walks and an occasional getaway to the local pool between calls reminds me why I found my life in sales.

  4. tim askew

    Amen, Sister. You have obviously solved the sales conundrum for yourself. I personally feel an effective 40 hour week is not realistic. You sound like a great salesman.

    Tim
    CEO
    Corporate Rain

  5. Steven Antoni

    Tim, I wholeheartedly agree with your approach – too long in the saddle and the pitch is just a pitch. It becomes just trying to make the numbers work for the management. I will take 5 great calls over 20 attempts any day of the week. The deeper the connection to the prospect the better the potential opportunity for a sale. I happen to believe that the funnel approach to sales has been flipped upside down and it is not the 30 calls leads to 10 opportunities that lead to 2 sales. I have personally targeted firms, told them as much, demo’d the software and gotten to proposal and closing stage with better prospecting and knowledge gathering about the prospect.

  6. tim askew

    Dear Steven,

    Hell, if you’re getting 5 great calls per 20, you are an extraordinary salesman, indeed. It is very easy to become mechanical without knowing it. Contact me at CorporateRain.com if you want to dialogue more.

    Tim Askew
    CEO
    Corporate Rain International

  7. tim askew

    Dear Jay,

    Thanks for your kind words. If you can’t tell the whole truth about your product or service find something else to sell. It makes for personal happiness andserenity.

    Tim Askew
    CEO
    Corporate Rain International

  8. tim askew

    Dear Chuck,

    Not becoming an imitation of yourself does indeed apply to all aspects of life. Staying present in the moment is a lifelong process. We often unintentionally stray from the truth by simply being insufficiently self-aware. And, you are right, it certainly does appy to all aspects of life.

    Tim Askew
    CEO
    Corporate Rain International, Inc.

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