Sales and Sales Management Blog

July 25, 2008

Is It Really Possible to Sell Like a Dog?

Filed under: business,sales,selling,small business,success — Paul McCord @ 1:44 pm
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One of my readers from China, Langston Marshall, sent me an email regarding my post Selling Like a Dog. In the comments section to that post Nesh Thompson discussed how we humans don’t have the capacity to handle rejection as a dog does. Langston argues that although an amusing post, trying to relate how Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe sell to how we humans sell is futile because unlike us, dogs don’t have a concept of ‘self’ and consequently cannot suffer from the affliction of being self-conscious that stymies so many salespeople, nor do they have the concept of rejection, so their ability to rebound from rejection isn’t rebounding at all-they never felt rejected to begin with. He also that if we were void of the concept of rejection we could and probably would be as success as the dogs are.

Although I disagree to some extent with his analysis of how self aware a dog is, I don’t want to get into a discussion of dog psychology, but Langston brings up some interesting points about humans. We are, of course, self-aware beings and that self-awareness can be either beneficial or detrimental. For many of us it is very much detrimental. It’s the basis of call reluctance, our failure to ask for the order, our tendency to do busy work instead of finding and connecting with new prospects, and the little white lies and omissions we try to get away with when dealing with both prospects and clients.

We are conscious of the potential rejection, of our fear of failure, of our desire to avoid disappointment, of our self-doubt. We stand in our way to success more than anything else-probably more than all other obstacles combined. Yet, we all know salespeople who are like Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe and can either ignore the rejection, doubts, and fear or simply plow through it.

What makes these men and women capable of handling rejection and being able to work through their fear and self-doubt? Are they missing some self-awareness gene the rest of us have? Or, are they so self-assured that they just don’t have self-doubt or fear?

So often we hear the advice that it is our mindset that determines our success or failure and that in order to be able to overcome our self-doubt and fear, to be able to handle the inevitable rejection salespeople experience, and to be able to risk putting ourselves on the line by asking for the order we have to create within ourselves a success mindset. We have to overcome the negative self-talk we impose upon ourselves, we have to develop positive affirmations to encourage ourselves, and we have to reinforce our actions with positive experiences.

The above is great advice and it works if one other more rudimentary ingredient is pre-existing-commitment. We read and hear a great deal about developing the success mindset but we don’t hear nearly as much about commitment. Commitment, I think, is where Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe differ from most of us. They are committed to getting what they want-their treats. They know their goal and are willing to be turned away because they understand, maybe better than we humans, that if they don’t ask, they don’t get.

Likewise, most of the men and women I’ve known who can plow through the rejection, the disappointment and the pain associated with selling have, just like B.J. and Chloe, a very clear vision of where they are going and they are absolutely committed to reaching their objective.

Yes, they feel the same pain as the rest of us. They feel it when the rejections pile one upon the other. They do have to stand down and regroup on occasion. These aren’t supermen or wonderwomen. They use the positive self-talk and positive affirmations the trainers advocate to handle their day-to-day disappointments and to bolster their confidence and self-image. But that self-talk and those affirmations wouldn’t be effective if they didn’t have the same type of commitment to their success that B.J. and Chloe have to theirs.

I am a firm believer that we can sell like a dog-I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. It may not be common, but it is certainly possible.



  1. I know you didn’t want to discuss dog psychology but there are some points that back up what you say. Firstly, it doesn’t matter whether you are self aware or not, but in whether you realise the possibities of the transaction. Dogs do know that they won’t be successful every time, and with regard to my two, if you firmly set them straight they would brush off the negative result but still understand that they failed at getting their goal (eventually). What they do know is that they will be successful some of the time and that provided they do what they do best ie. begging, whining etc. they will be rewarded. This is a result of their environmental training. Some dogs are not like this, and if you have seen rescue dogs then this behaviour is seldom seen.

    Yes, our psychology is more sophisticated and therefore our egos are prone to more rejection, but the same principle still applies. If you are brought up and trained in a positive atmosphere and proactively go for your goals then you will succeed where those who don’t fail.

    Comment by nesh thompson — July 26, 2008 @ 11:02 am | Reply

  2. Nesh,

    Good points. Dogs do, I believe, as you mentioned understand their rejection, yet persevere. In fact, I think they have far more in common with us that we realize, including a rudimentary concept of self. Last winter my wife bought Chloe and B.J. sweaters. At that time Chloe was a little over 2 years old and had never worn clothes. Yet when Debbie put the sweater on her, her whole demeanor changed. Chloe is a very social, outgoing dog. She is about as much of a people dog as you’ll ever find. Nevertheless, when the sweater was put on she retreated behind the couch and was very reluctant to come out–she was embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen in such a ridiculous thing. On the other hand, B.J. wasn’t embarrassed, he was just down on the floor trying to the offending garment off–he wasn’t embarrassed, he was mad.

    Another example, B.J. is only 12 lbs, but like most Dachshunds, he’s afraid of nothing and on one. When he meets another dog and gets it to stand down and submit, his pride of self explodes. He actually prances (well, he prances as much as a bowlegged dog with 2 1/2 inch legs can prance). He is obviously proud of what he had just done.

    Finally, when they don’t succeed in getting the treats they want, that is, making the sale, B.J.’s attitude changes visibly. He hangs his head, his walk becomes more of a slumping along, he obviously feels the pain of the rejection. His pain probably being felt more intensely in his stomach than in his mind, but he still feels it.

    They may not be able to name the concepts, but they appear to feel the same emotions we do. The difference is they handle them–at least the rejection part–far better than we do. They don’t allow their emotions to cloud their goal. And that’s where we run into trouble. We allow our emotions, our self-centered emotions, to get in the way of our success. Developing the mechanisms to successfully handle those emotions and to regain our focus on our goals is a never ending challenge for us. That, I think, is the lesson from the dogs–it can be done if we set aside our ego, our self-centered emotions, and focus on what they focus on–success.

    Comment by Paul McCord — July 28, 2008 @ 9:10 am | Reply

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