“The Miller His Son and the Donkey” – Lessons for Sales Professionals
As sales consultants, we face rejection every time we make a sales call. Our emotions and ego are put on the line. This risk is part and parcel of the job (and life!). To be successful, we need to develop “thick skin” to endure and reinterpret rejection. This reality is nothing new. The following story […]
Ben Lai

As sales consultants, we face rejection every time we make a sales call. Our emotions and ego are put on the line. This risk is part and parcel of the job (and life!). To be successful, we need to develop “thick skin” to endure and reinterpret rejection. This reality is nothing new. The following story was told hundreds of years ago by Aesop, and contains the key to not taking sales rejection personally. Here are sales lessons from The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey.

The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey: The Story

“The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey” tells of the trio’s journey to the market. Walking aside each other, a countryman comments that they are silly not to ride the donkey. The Miller places his son on the animal. Further along the road, some men comment that the boy is lazy for making his father walk. The man and his son switch places, only to be scorned by two women. They shamed him for his poor treatment of the youngster. Now both riding the donkey, passers-by criticised them for overloading the beast. Exasperated, the Miller and his son tie up and carry the donkey. Understandably, onlookers laugh at the sight. The commotion causes the donkey to struggle and fall off the bridge they were travelling on, sadly to its demise.

The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey: The Moral

“Please all, and you will please none,” Aesop admonishes us. If we try to be all things to all people, we will lose all appeal of our brand. Numerous business experts and gurus will advise to serve a niche rather than the masses for this reason.

Consider Apple’s products. The late Steve Jobs was quite vocal about not doing market research1. Instead, he stuck to what he thought was right, and rocked the phone and music industries. As a result, half of the population loves Apple products, and the other half hates them (roughly)! How concerned do you think Apple is about the latter half?

The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey: The Application

Define and devote your time to selling to ideal clients. These are the companies with whom you will give the greatest value, and who will give you the greatest appreciation. Your job will become more enjoyable since you are mostly speaking to people who are looking for what you provide. You will become less desperate because you understand that your products are not right for everyone. This in turn will increase prospects’ trust in you, increasing your chances of securing the sale. When people “reject” your offering, think of it as a poor fit rather than a reflection on your character.

Take Action

I encourage you to read the full version of “The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey” a few times, and internalise the story. Think of it every time someone says “no” to you. Remember that your product is not right for everyone, and that you’re only interested in selling to appreciative clients. The difference it makes for your self-image and emotions will be priceless!

1 Steve Jobs speaks out

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Success Partners provides sales training in Melbourne, Australia. Led by Ben Lai, our vision is to inspire and equip sales consultants and entrepreneurs to sell with integrity. Our core belief is that Integrity + Skills = Success, and achieve this through sales training, sales coaching, and sales process consulting.

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Sales Ethos is the only provider of sales training for introverts. We also provide sales coaching, sales process consulting, and sales training in Melbourne & Adelaide.