I hesitated to write this particular blog post. I knew lots of readers would roll their eyes and say to themselves, “oh boy, another tawdry tale about failing in the process of success.” I know.
But, honestly, I had to write this post. Why? Three reasons:
- Every inventor who persists will get ‘mass quantities' of no's
- Every no, like a geode, is ugly on the outside, but the beauty is hidden within
- Negative feedback – shaped my ultimate success
Every Inventor will Get Lots of No's
Every insurance agent knows sales is a numbers game. It takes perhaps 100 phone calls to get 3 appointments. Maybe 1 out of every 3 appointments will result in a sale. Then, if you need 10 sales, you need to make 1,000 phone calls. Dialing for dollars. Agents know that every no is one step closer to a yes. Every appointment can result in a sale.
Every No is a Geode: Ugly Outside with Something Beautiful Inside
As an inventor, every no you receive is like a geode: a sort of ugly “rock” that contains something beautiful inside.
I remember the most painful no I received was from the largest wallet manufacturer in the US (they are no longer in business). Unlike other no's I'd received, this one really stung. They had initially been keenly interested in my wallets, enough to create a couple of prototypes of their own and have their design team to consider it.
I was quite excited on the drive over to their for the follow up meeting. I was tasting victory and considering the next steps. But, in the meeting, the answer was “no, it's not for us.” One member of their team simply did not like the concept, gave it the black ball, and an initial yes turned into a no.
My initial exception and high hopes were crushed in an instant. I was speachless. On my drive home I was intensely angry. “What is wrong with these people?” I asked myself. It took me days to get over my anger, disappointment, and frustration.
Only after I had processed through my emotions, was I able to calm down so I could think more objectively and clearly.
Far from a complete rejection, the CEO has said something very positive after declining my product, I just wasn't ready to hear it at that time. He said, “your product is a sell on TV product. It has to be demonstrated. It won't sell well in retail stores. You should take it to QVC.” I finally cracked open the ugly exterior of the geode of no, and inside were beautiful crystals giving me the roadmap forward for my product, sell on TV.
Negative Feedback – Shaped my Ultimate Success
Once I recovered from my ‘pity party'. I began to consider the advice the CEO gave me.
He was right that my product was very demonstrable – when people saw my demos, they got it, they saw immediately how the wallet worked and the benefits of a thin, flexible wallet. In fact, I had sold thousands of wallets up to that time by demonstrating it to many people at fairs and events. On QVC, I would be doing the same thing, but in front of millions of viewers, a tiny fraction of whom would buy immediately – instant gratification.
Armed with this valuable information, I completely changed direction.
That same CEO gave me a perfect contact in China to manufacture my Savvy Caddy wallets in the thousands I would need for QVC. I found an agent for QVC and gave him my pitch. He liked it and took it to a QVC buyer. She liked it a lot and decided to order 3,200 units – over $80,000 worth of product. Next, I went to my bank and was able to secure a loan for about $25,000 to buy the product. I was really scared, but completely committed: I was getting a car loan, but no car.
About 8 months later, I went on air at QVC and sold almost all 3,200 of my wallets in two 5 minute TV airings. Wow, it was a great feeling! The next year, I got a QVC reorder for 3,700 wallets and, unfortunately got an airtime at 3 am (not a particularly good time), I got another airing but sold only about half my inventory, QVC shipped the rest back to me.
I was initially somewhat crushed when my vision of a long career on QVC came to an end. But I again reassessed. I had sold at rates of as much as $7,000/minute of product. That was good. I had sold over 5,000 wallets on QVC, that was good.
Suddenly I fully realized that my wallet truly was a ‘sell on TV‘ product. But QVC was just the beginning. Want to know the rest of the story? Read:
Turning No's into Inventing Success, Part II