A Kid’s Film Could Make You a Better (Sales)Person

terrible-salespeople-trolls

My wife and I took our 3 kids to see the new Trolls movie last weekend.  If you don’t have kids, you still might want to head out and see it, because it had a message worth sharing; a message lots of people could really use right now; a message my wife and I will strive to teach our kids until the day they are no longer our responsibility.

That message is, you don’t need to look outward to find what you want in life.

You need to spend some time looking inward.

Your life is built from your choices.

How optimistically you view your journey plays a HUGE role in the choices you make.

Your life and happiness is your responsibility, and no one else’s.

To bless you with an abundant harvest, even God himself needs you to put in the work.

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Branch and Princess Poppy – The Trolls

The movie is the story of a group of adorable little fantasy creatures (with hair of an insane level of utility) called Trolls, who seem to be living in a dream world of singing and dancing in a magic tree all day, but unfortunately they are threatened because they are hunted by a race of big bad creatures called the Bergens.

King Gristle - A Troll

King Gristle – A Bergen

The Chef - A Really Nasty Bergen

The Chef – A Really Nasty Bergen

The Bergens are a sad, angry, miserable species who believe that the only way they will ever feel happiness is by eating a troll. This is the culturally accepted wisdom, and none of them question it. Unfortunately for the Bergens, the entire troll population escapes and goes into hiding….dooming the Bergens to a self imposed lifetime of unpleasantness and grumbling.

Blah Blah Blah, Flipitty Flap…20 years pass and the Bergens find the Trolls and capture several of them, and thus our protagonist, Poppy the Princess has her quest: go on a 60 minute cinematic adventure to rescue her friends, while learning some critical things about herself, and helping the Bergens make a game changing realization about themselves as well.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with sales?…Nothing.  It has nothing to do with sales.

But in the crazy way my mind works, almost everything I look at contains a life lesson that can also be applied to sales. This movie and its main character was a great example of that.

So what can we learn from Poppy and her journey?


You Need to Develop Resilience.

Poppy sings a song as she heads off to find her captured friends (watch the scene here).   As she sings there is a montage of all the absolutely insane things that she needs to overcome to get to them. Freezing rain, scorching heat, scary creatures, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but she just keeps singing in the most optimistic tone and happily running through it all.

Her chorus goes like this:

“I’m not givin’ up today

There’s nothin’ gettin’ in my way

And if you knock, knock me over

I will get back up again.

Oh, If something goes a little wrong

Well you can go ahead and bring it on

‘Cause if you knock, knock me over

I will get back up again.

She is actually still singing this as she goes unconscious after surviving a death drop at one point through an insane mass of spider webs.  I laugh out loud when I think of the scene.  She is so dedicated.

How many salespeople let a bad call or some bad news influence them for the rest of the day?   Guess what?  Buyers don’t want to talk to a downtrodden salesperson.

You’ve got to take your hits and keep moving with the attitude displayed above.  The next sale only comes from navigating your way through a pile of rejection.

Deal with this rejection as reality and keep marching away.   “If you knock, knock me over, I will get back up again.”


You need Confidence, and EXCITEMENT.

They sugar coat it because its a kid’s movie…but if you pay attention to the danger on screen, Poppy is on a life or death journey.

Despite this, she sings:

I’m marchin’ along, I got confidence.

I’m cooler than a pack of peppermints.

And I haven’t been this excited since….

(yelling) I CAN’T REMEMBER WHEN!!!!

Zig Ziglar said selling is essentially a transfer of feelings.  If you are excited about your product, your company, and your life…people want to be around that.  They want to buy from a person like that.

I’m not saying you need to endlessly smile like a moron, but you do need to figure out a way to EXUDE excitement and passion for what you do.  If you can’t find any excitement…you need to think about doing something else.

The team I lead sells industrial packaging supplies.  It is NOT the most exciting group of products one might wish to sell, but the reason it stays exciting for me is the customers, not the products.  Talking with them and hearing their stories is fascinating.

If you think about it, it almost doesn’t matter what you sell if you can put your focus on your customers directly and how the products you sell help them achieve a better result in THEIR business.


You Need Self Awareness.

Like most rational people, Poppy has moments of self doubt.  But she’s smart enough to realize that her best chance at success is not through letting herself dwell there.  She diverts her mind back to the task at hand as soon as she recognizes it.

The song continues:

I’m off on this remarkable adventure…

What if it’s all a big mistake?

What if it’s more than I can take?

No!

I can’t think that way

‘Cause I know that I’m really, really, really gonna be ok.  

(There is almost a tinge of anger and edge in this last line that makes me laugh.)

When you begin to experience doubt, at any stage in your sales career, I think its important to take 5 seconds and acknowledge that questioning your ability is normal. Wondering if it will work out is NORMAL.  It’s your safety/self preservation mechanism at work.

But its important to take the next step: REALIZE that dwelling longer than a few moments on the potential negatives WILL NOT improve your chances.

Forge ahead optimistically, because you know a cheerful approach will be the best shot you have at success.


You Need a Support System.

Despite the benefits of mental strength, there WILL eventually be a time where it all becomes too much for you.

Poppy experiences this feeling of crushing defeat.  When it looks as though all hope is lost and she finally has a moment of self doubt, it’s an incredibly powerful scene.

Poppy and all of the friends she had gone off to save are eventually trapped again.  They’re sold out by one of their own trolls and thrown in a pressure cooker type device together (how morbid is this kids movie?) and Poppy finally gives up.

All of her bright, dazzling color begins to fade out of her, and the rest of the trolls in turn begin to see their colors fade out as well, resulting in a group of monochrome, dreary little people.  As a leader goes, so go the followers.

My 5 year old daughter Avery began to sniffle at this point in the movie she was so worried about Poppy.

Luckily, Poppy has people in her life that help pick her up, re energize her and point her back to the goal. Justin Timberlake’s character; Branch, a dark and brooding Troll that had been monochrome for the entire movie up to this point(tragic backstory of course), begins to sing the song “True Colors” and reminds Poppy that she’s not alone.

He is able to encourage her, relight her colors, and she in turn re-lights his colors for the first time since he was a child. The whole group is revitalized and they all come back to full color.  It’s a truly wonderful scene.  My daughter Avery cheered.

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Do you have mentors, coworkers, and friends that you can share your burdens with?  Sales has the propensity to be one of the most emotionally draining jobs out there.  It can be very difficult to shoulder the burden alone for your entire journey.  You need to surround yourself with people that are on the same or similar journey.   We all need people in our lives to help keep us pointed in the right direction, and taking steps toward that direction every day.

I’m so grateful for the sales team I get to lead.  They talk to each other everyday.  They help each other find things, they lend an ear when someone needs to vent about a setback, and they share all of the amazing epiphanies that they have about sales and selling situations with each other.  They’ve built an incredible support system, and they’re all better equipped to face the world because of it.

I’m also grateful for the support sytem I have for myself.  I have several mentors I go to for advice and colleagues that I can share my experiences with.  It makes the journey I am on easier as well.   It keeps me pointed in the right direction and moving there swiftly.

Get yourself a support system.


You Must Become a Teacher and a Leader.

In the climax of the movie, the trolls are about to be served to the king and his loyal subjects.  This is another life and death pivotal scene.

The Bergens are all so excited to eat these trolls because they believe that they will finally be able to experience true happiness.    Through some authentic communication Poppy, Branch, and all of her friends are able to get the Bergen King to listen long enough to teach him that true happiness doesn’t come from things you find outside yourself, because they could go away.

True happiness is something that has to come from inside.  At this point they proceed to bust out with the theme song of the movie, they begin to dance and they get all the Bergens dancing, singing, and suddenly feeling an emotion they haven’t felt in over 20 years; happiness.    It doesn’t seem far fetched either.  Listen to the song linked above and see if YOU don’t come away happier.

In order to lead, teach, or sell something to others, you have to be able pass your feelings of personal belief into them.  Until they believe in the idea or the product as much as you do, there will be no sale.  So if you’re looking to someone else to help you create the belief and the excitement, you’re going to end up like the Bergens, grumbling for 20 years of a miserable career.

You cannot derive your happiness from your wins. This will drive you to become a desperate salesperson that will say and do progressively worse things the farther you get from a win.  That’s not the way this deal works. You can’t source your fulfillment externally.

Your wins will be generated from YOUR personal commitment to optimism.  Decide to be happy and successful internally, and keep a cheerful outlook in the face of whatever happens day to day, knowing that this type of carriage and demeanor will lead you to a greater end result.

Good selling my friends!

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