30 Knocks: Process, Confidence, and Resilience for Selling

30 Knocks: Process, Confidence, and Resilience for Selling

In June 2013, I quit my job, moved across the country from DC back to California, and started a coaching business. I didn’t even have a permanent place to live yet or a website but had a networking event to attend and wanted to pick a company name.

My first choice was “30 Knocks.” That lasted about a month before I ultimately decided to go with Spark Plug Labs - the spark that ignites inspiration and leads people to action.

I was sharing the story behind 30 Knocks and what it means to me with a friend over lunch recently (thanks, Michele) and thought it would be worth sharing here since I know this topic resonates with so many of you. The idea of selling ourselves comes up in work, on Facebook groups, and in day-to-day meetings so often. It can be scary and overwhelming. I hear people say, “I don’t want to ask for business because I don’t want to be sales-y” or “I can’t do it because I’m not a rainmaker.”

Done correctly, sales is not a four-letter word. It is about your influence and the value you offer someone else. 30 Knocks is a program I offer and a theme that influences my coaching.

Why 30 Knocks?

For three summers in college I sold kids’ books door-to-door. I sold $75,000 in kids’ books and paid for most of college with that money. (Thanks for asking me to join you, Dan.)

The rule to be successful was to knock on 30 doors. I had to follow the rule of averages - it takes 30 “nos” to get one “yes.”

30 Knocks isn’t just about knocking on doors though. For me, it is a story of Process, Confidence, and Resiliency.


We are all selling something. Identify what that something is and get clear on what you need to make it happen.

Do you know who you need to ask? Where you might find them? What might be driving their decisions?

When selling books, it was pretty straight-forward. Do you have kids? Do you want them to excel in school? Are you willing to invest a little now for their future success? Some days we would have competitions to sell books without using any samples. It was about selling the idea of education and the opportunity for parents to help their children.

And, I had data points from years of college students doing this before me. The company said the average was 30 “nos” to get one “yes.” I was very good at targeting and had a better than average ratio. But the overall process kept me incredibly motivated. Some days, I would knock on 45 doors before getting a “yes.” Can you even imagine being rejected that much at once? I would keep going and often would get three, four, or five “yeses” in a row. The process worked. I had to stay committed to the process to stay motivated.

  • Who are your allies, friends, fans, clients, and prospects?

  • Why do they want what you are selling?

  • Where can you connect with them?


It is hard to sell anything if you don’t believe in yourself and whatever it is you are selling. It could be your own brand or reputation, your house, your professional services, an idea, or a product. It could be selling to individuals or businesses.

What gives you the confidence to get up each morning and believe you are worth it? What is the value you share with others?

Are you working towards a promotion? Are you looking for a relationship? Do you want a seat on a board? Are you pitching your start-up for funding?

Identify the value you offer. Believe in yourself. Believe in abundance. Know that there are enough people out there who want what you have. Then follow the process you have set out to connect with them.

The confidence you share with others will take you far in the sales cycle.

Each day is a brand new day. Do something today that will be worth it for you.


It can be discouraging to get 30 “nos” in a row. Sometimes it can be more than that especially if you haven’t properly identified your targets. The more refined you get in your process, the easier it will be.

Either way, when you get a “no,” it is not personal. Sometimes it is just because that person wants to say “no.” It makes them feel empowered.*

Get excited for a “no.” Learn why they said “no.” Was it price? Was it competition? Was it value? Ask! “Is there anything that is getting in the way of us working together?” “What is keeping you from saying yes?”

No matter what you are selling, you are not selling to a company. You are selling to a person who may represent a company but who has their own perspective, biases, and fears in life. How do you share what you do in order to appeal to their heart?

Now think about knocking on 30 doors. Close your eyes and picture it. Whatever you are looking for comes only after you have shared it 30 times and received 30 “nos.” What happens if you give up at door 29? If you don't keep going, I guess you’ll never know. Be resilient!

It can be really hard to be vulnerable. But when you find the people who want what you have, it feels really good. It is redeeming. Your confidence, value, and integrity are clear.

If you would like to learn more about the art of selling, feel free to get in touch.

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Thank you for reading and sharing your comments.


*Recommended Reading: “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss, forber FBI hostage negotiator and “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel Pink.

Monica Phillips is an experienced strategic marketing and business development executive with a passion for women’s leadership and technology and 20 years of experience developing and executing strategic initiatives to help organizations identify and expand successful lines of business and strengthen client relationships. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and a podcast host. Follow her on Twitter @bodegabay1 or on LinkedIn.