Life is just a bowl of jelly beans. So is sales

Life is just a bowl of jelly beans. So is sales

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

UntitledLife is just a bowl of jelly beans. So is sales. This email arrived the other day:
Jeffrey, I follow-up all my ‘cold calls’ – even the brush-offs -with a small box of jellybeans and my business card attached. They may not remember me, but they never forget the jelly beans. And I almost always get a thank you phone call for the jelly beans. (I have yet to receive a thank you for the cold call!) I hate cold calls, but I love sending the jelly beans! And in the end, I’m having fun, and so, I consider myself successful! Mary McMahon I immediately responded with “GREAT” and asked for permission to reprint the idea. She wrote back…
HIT THE PRESS!!! My brother and I are in the ‘take-over’ phase! We are assuming ownership our father’s circular knit business. In layman’s terms: we manufacture fabrics for women’s bras. The business has been on the decline for several years. Time for some new blood, new ideas and new energies. My brother George and I are in the process of ‘recreating’ the bra business. We developed a new company logo, and have hit the streets (though not always running!) One of the products we are re-designing is the bra-strap, but to get manufactures to even listen to the idea is like pulling teeth. So, enter the jelly beans. Within a week I started getting responses! My next idea is to put a one-pound bag of jelly beans in a molded bra cup that is made from our fabrics. Attach our business cards and a thank you note. You’ve heard of the gift basket, why not a ‘bra basket?” I know it sounds ‘out there’, but we have nothing to lose and potential business to gain! I responded with an idea for the card attached: “your cup runneth over.” Mary loved it. Mary is on her way to success. Mary is having fun. The key word in this sales lesson? FUN. And you ain’t having enough of it, baby. Should you incorporate some fun into your sales? YES! Here are a few “fun” examples. Don’t just read them and smile. Read them and grin when you figure out a way to adapt the lesson or incident to your business life.
COLD CALL: I once asked a salesman what his most effective line on a cold call was. He replied, “Hi my name is Craig — how do you like me so far?” He said it sometimes gets a smile, sometimes gets a laugh, but always gets him in the door. How much fun is your opening line on a cold call?

HOTEL CHECK IN: “Last name?” snorted the desk clerk as I walked up to the hotel counter. “Gitomer,” I replied. “Spell that,” she demanded. “W-E-L-C-O-M-E,” I responded. Why can’t people just look at you, smile, be friendly, and engage you? Because they aren’t having any FUN.

SAME SCENARIO — FUN VERSION: “I’ll bet your last name is Johnson!” The desk clerk says with a smile. “No, it’s Gitomer.” I reply. “GITOMER!!” she exclaims. “I was going to say that next!” Now everyone is smiling (even you) — everyone is having fun, and a positive expectation is set.

YOU TRY IT: Any salesperson, gatekeeper, or sales clerk can employ that “your name is…” scenario. And compare it to your “professional” crap: May I help you? Or, you’re here to see…? Or, Do you have an appointment? Or, May I tell him what this is in reference to? No fun. And yours is often borderline rude.

FINAL PROOF: Let’s take the example of Southwest Airlines. Do they have great service? No. They are as hard to get on the phone as any other airline. Do they treat their customers like king? No. They herd them into planes like cattle, offer festival seating, and serve them nuts. So what’s the difference? Low prices? Well, sometimes — but many airlines are matching their prices on similar routes. The Southwest difference is FUN. Their people tell jokes and kid around. Their customers are smiling when they enter the plane, and have a positive expectation of a great experience — even though if you take away the humor and the laughs, it’s the same or worse as any other airline. Their humor is so good, people re-tell the jokes at parties, in offices, and at business gatherings. How many of your sales pitches are people re-telling? Answer: NONE One other thing of note about Southwest airlines — they make a PROFIT, and have every quarter for more than a decade. The other, more snooty (not having any fun but claiming to be professional) airlines can’t make a dime at TEN TIMES the price. Funny — but, funny in a pathetic sort of way. What kind of fun are you having? Any? How many smiles are you creating? What’s your fax cover sheet like? Is there a joke on it? Does your voice mail message have a smile? Do you have a quote that someone will show one another. You think fun isn’t attractive? How many emailed jokes do you get? I got an email the other day – Sad News. I don’t usually pass on sad news like this, but sometimes we need to pause and remember what life is all about. There was a great loss recently in the entertainment world: Larry LaPrise, the Detroit native who wrote the song “Hokey Pokey” died a few weeks ago at 83. It was especially difficult for the family to keep him in the casket. They put his left leg in and… well, you know the rest… I howled. Sent it to twenty people. Fun gets emailed around the world millions of times in seconds. How many of your brochures are being resent to someone else? Answer: NONE. That ought to be a clue.
NOTE WELL: Fun involves risk. The biggest risk is that someone will throw you out for being unprofessional. If that would be the case in most of your sales situations, then either I’m dead wrong, or you’re in the wrong industry.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Take more risks. Now I’m NOT saying clown around and act stupid (you have weekends and bars for that). I am saying lighten up and enjoy the ride. Me? I’m in sales to have fun — and the more fun I have, the more money I make. “But Jeffrey,” you whine. “You don’t understand, my boss will kill me, fire me, blah, blah…” Just show him some new sales and he will hug you, not bug you. Wanna make more sales? Go ahead, make them laugh. If you can make ’em laugh, you can make ’em buy. Free GitBit: We just paid a royalty to a cartoonist to make our fax cover sheet smile. Want sample? Want the name of the cartoon registry? Go to — register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word SMILE in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to