Can You Sail Past The Sales Tide?


(By Loyd Ford) Did you ever watch the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away? It’s an amazing movie. Most of it takes place with the main character, a systems analyst for FedEx, stranded alone on an island, unable to get back to civilization. He has to learn to do everything, and it all starts with fire.

It’s worth it just to watch Tom wave his hands high in the air and proclaim, “Fire! I made F i r e e e e e !” If you haven’t seen this movie, find a way to check it out, because there is an entertaining sales lesson hidden in the movie.

The interesting part of being on an island with no skills to get off is that you get to experiment. Experimenting is how we learn.

As the movie opens up on his many experiments, Tom Hanks’ character realizes that no one is coming for him, so he begins to think about getting off the island himself. While all of us OFF the island think of failure as bad, it’s not the same for Tom. He’s determined to win no matter what. He is the personification of Winston Churchill’s words, “Never, ever, ever give up!

It turns out that islands have an interesting set of impairments for someone looking to exit, including a tide that comes washing in on you as you try to “escape.” The tide pushes you back to the beach.

Welcome back!

In Cast Away the tide keeps our main character from being successful in leaving the island. You know where we are going here, right? He refused to give up.

In fact, he builds his own raft and his own makeshift sail to lift his raft over the coral reef and onto what I call “the float.” The float” is what you find after the sales tide. The float” is where you want to be.


All you have to do is develop your skills so you can get over the impairments. Does this sound like sales? Well, it is sales. Clients don’t wake up in the morning saying, “I hope a salesperson comes by today and convinces me to spend thousands of dollars!You’re stuck in the tide.

But – if you are really consultative – you are involved in helping people. Most people are not like you. They give up because of the tide. They can’t believe how hard it is to deal with the coral reef. 

How do you experiment to find your raft and sail past the sales tide and get to “the float?”

  1. Do the math. If you set a goal, simply do the math to make sure you are seeing enough potential clients with actual presentations each week because you will sell. And you will find your close ratio to be a specific number. That allows you to experiment to find how many presentations you want to make in a week to crush your record. After all, if you don’t present enough to overcome your tide, you go back to the beach.
  2. Don’t fall prey to “Advertisers don’t want to see salespeople.” They sure don’t. They want solutions and they respond directly to those. Maybe you’ve heard this. “People never care about price if they see the value of what they are getting as more valuable than what they are paying.” It’s true.
  3. Instead of selling features, sell solutions. No one cares that you are from a radio station. Do you know what people care about? Their story. They are the stars in their own movie. Your job is to figure out what they really worry about. Find out what they need. Do your homework before you see a potential client. Know about their business, their competitors, and their industry. And bring solutions.
  4. Bring ideas. Do you know how you get good at ideas? Brainstorm constantly. Songwriters talk about this all the time. They “open a channel” to receive good ideas. They may write a hundred songs (practice) before they write something you and I think is amazing. Brainstorming opens your channel to ideas that wow clients so they open their wallets.
  5. Generate your own leads. One of the most difficult things to do in sales is to create positive continuing momentum or a desire to face rejection. That’s why we are all so good at saying things like, “I don’t need to do THAT today. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week.” I was in a very difficult sales job once upon a time. It was grueling. So, I created a way to generate what were (to me) leads. I changed my psychology. What did that do for me? It “created positive continuing momentum in the face of rejection.” Do that and you find yourself selling more and generating more revenue. 

There are always going to be impairments to selling. Are you going to let the sales tide be negative or just part of your experimentation to overcome and explode your revenue?

Loyd Ford is president and chief strategic officer at Rainmaker Pathway Consulting Works (RPC). They help local radio with ratings and revenue. Reach him anytime at 864.448.4169 or [email protected]. Read Loyd’s Radio Ink archives here.


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