Learning from the Lumps

I’ve had a few “door-to-door” sales jobs in my life, and the truth is, I didn’t like them at all. I believed in what I was selling (sometimes) but for some reason, the unsolicited business proposition always felt a touch pushy. Yucky.

My first door-to-door sales job was the summer between Junior and Senior year in college. I was living in my friend Ward’s guest room, when I got a job selling framed artwork out of the back of my car. It was prints of famous works of art, that I was selling “at frame cost.” The whole thing felt kinda scummy, but the people were cool. I shadowed two people, and on the third day I went out on my own. I sold four black and white photographs to a dentist office then quit. I went home, drank tequila and watched the World Cup.

The second door-to-door sales job was a few years later in Sydney, Australia while I was living there after college. I was looking for a job, any job, and I found an opening at one of the large telephone companies. The posting was rather cryptic, but I was feeling pressured to find work, so I went for the interview.

I sat down and we briefly touched on the idea of door-to-door sales. I said I wasn’t ecstatic about the idea, but I was willing to give it a shot. So after the meeting, rather than going home, I was escorted into the back of a van and driven out to a random corner of Sydney to start canvassing. Trial by fire, I guess.

It was raining and cold out, and we got turned away from every single house we approached. After an hour of this nonsense, I literally walked away from the group. I had no idea where I was in Sydney, but the thing I did know, was that I had no interest in selling phone upgrades for some major conglomerate. That’s just not for me.

But the concept of “door-to-door” sales has once again thrust itself into my lap, this time with Dinner’s Ready! I’m no longer peddling garbage for a conglomerate, I’m selling my own hard work, my own blood, sweat, and tears. On it’s face, the situations are completely different, but inside, I felt the same unease, but now there’s the added elements of fear and rejection.

Last fall, while developing Dinner’s Ready!, I went store to store in my neighborhood looking for similar food-related card games. I found the same food games at every store. The sushi game. Slapwich. Nothing special, or even remotely related to my game. This, I took, as a good sign for my game.

The very first store I went into back in August, let’s call it Cute Store, seemed receptive to my idea, and on the way out, somebody said, “maybe you should make one.” Bingo. If there was any place that I should being my door-to-door sales, it should be with Cute Store, the same place that supported my idea in the first place. Not to mention, opening with that story could be a great way to ease into the sale!

Last week, I went into Cute Store and after introducing myself, asked if I could speak to the manager or owner. The woman behind the register seemed put upon by my request, so much to the point she didn’t even tell me her name. She remained withdrawn (and frankly rue) while I asked if she had a moment to chat. Of course she said she didn’t, despite there being no other patrons in the store. I marched on, telling the story of the visit last fall, and that I had developed Dinner’s Ready! after all.

“Does it have a CPSC certification?” she asked. “Because if it doesn’t, this whole thing is kinda moot.”

Wow. I had never even heard of the CPSC (which was a good thing for me to learn about) but her tone cut me to the core. She didn’t even want to look at the game before dismissing me. She wrote down “CPSC” and the owner’s name on a business card, telling me to come back when I have the certification.

The CPSC is the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and it requires that all products geared towards children must be certified by a third party laboratory to ensure safety, etc. No dangerous parts or chemicals, etc. This helps protect stores against third party liabilities, in the event a kid swallows their game piece or something.

But I wasn’t building a children’s game with pieces. I wasn’t even really building a children’s game, it’s just a card game that families and children can play. Does it really need all this expensive testing? And after a little more research, I found that the CPSC states that “general audience” card games are not considered children’s games and therefore, require no certification. So it’s looks like I’m all good!

So today I marched back into Cute Store, asked for the owner, and when she came out from the back, I pitched Dinner’s Ready! again, complete with sample deck in hand. It was my first real sales test out in the world, and I’ll be honest, I was shaking like crazy! I was nervous and jittery, and I stumbled a little bit, but I think I was able to get everything across I needed to. When she asked about the CPSC certification, I presented the FAQ’s page and told her that “general audience” games don’t need it. She was pleased to hear that.

When my pitch was over, she held my sales packet in her hand and looked at me honestly, “This is really cute. I think this is a great game and something that we could definitely carry in our store. I’ll have to check with my partner but we’ll be in touch.”

Yes, I know. That’s not a sale. But it’s not the flat out “no” I got last time. I had stewed on that first rejection really hard, debating if I should even go back into Cute Store at all. Part of me wanted to write them off all together, but the bigger side of me wanted to prove that Dinner’s Ready! really should be out in the world and in their store. I couldn’t let one rejection get me so far down, and in the end, it may pay off.

So I happy spent this afternoon, going storefront to storefront, peddling my wares.

You’re gonna take lumps. Lots of them. But if you do your best to learn from the lumps, refocus your negatives into positives (by asking questions and seeking ways to grow from the no’s), you’ll find that every experience, the good, the bad, and the really really ugly, can all be turned into a learning experience, and help build up your confidence for the next challenge, whatever it may be.

Don’t give up, get fired up!


P.S. If you’re a retailer or online distributor interested in carrying Dinner’s Ready!, check out our Dinner’s Ready! Sales Packet!



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