After finishing my copywriting program, one of my students decided to “get serious” about his future. He carefully studied the portion of the course that dealt with getting clients and did exactly what it said to do. He went to the local library, photocopied the part of a reference source that provides names and addresses of potential clients, and called those people up, one after the other, trying to speak to marketing directors and get them to take a look at samples of his work.

He sent out the only thing he had, a student writing assignment, along with a personalized cover letter targeting each company’s interests. He followed through by calling — and if he heard nothing, he called again and again. He did not stop after 20 companies rejected him. He continued after 50 said “no.” He gamely carried on day in and day out for 30 straight days, until he had contacted no less than 81 companies. Then he hit pay dirt. He got five responses, three of which were for potential assignments “in three to six months” and two more that were for “right now.”

Another copywriting student who overcame his shyness and trained himself to sell himself offers the following advice:

* Learn as much as you can about each prospective client/customer prior to making the sales presentation.

* Prepare your sales presentation. Put your best stuff out there.

* Bring something and leave something behind.

* Dress for success. You don’t want to lose a sale by looking sloppy. (“Dress” applies to your information material as well as your personal appearance.)

* Prepare yourself mentally for a lot of rejection. Accept the fact that there is nothing personal or offensive about the word “no.” It simply means that they don’t have anything for you THIS time.

He said something I like: “I think of cold-calling this way: If you knew there were 100,000 upturned buckets and that under some there were stacks of $100 bills — maybe as much as $250,000 in all — how many buckets would you look under to find the money? And would you stop before you’d found it all?”

Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton was famous for his pluck. After failing to make a big deal that took days or weeks to put together, he’d be up and on the phone again early the next morning. Failure, Walton believed, was only “a prelude to success.” “When you blunder,” Walton said, “get up again and fast. Our strategy [at Wal-Mart] is to fail…forward…fast.” What about you? Have you done everything you can do to achieve success?

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