Training December 2016

The eternal sales struggle

How salespeople can maintain momentum

  • Look after your health
  • Focus on the positives
  • Learn from failure

Sisyphus was banished to Hades for misdeeds in life and spent eternity pushing a large stone to the top of a hill, just to watch it roll back again. This is the salesperson’s life. At the end of the financial year, we are back down at the bottom of the hill. Here we go again, having to move that big rock all the way to the top.

“You are only as good as your last deal” is a common refrain in sales. We struggle all year to make our targets, and then we go back to zero revenue and start rolling those massive key performance indicator rocks up the hill once more.

Most salespeople struggle to make their targets, and the targets are always being raised. The effort to get deals over the line before the cut-off leaves us in a dishevelled heap. We go to bed one night utterly exhausted, only to arise the next morning to face an even bigger rock. We are already tired, so how do we motivate ourselves to get in the game again?

The first thing is to not worry about the past. Draw lessons from it, but don’t allow yesterday’s worry to intimidate today’s attitude. Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope. We cannot tolerate a vacuum in our minds, so either the good stuff goes in or we allow the bad stuff to disable us. We should not dwell on the negatives, but concentrate on solution finding for client problems.

Oh no! Our biggest client won’t be buying this year and that is going to leave a massive hole in our numbers. Don’t moan about it. Start work on finding new wonderful clients to replace the lost one. Develop a positive momentum to carry you forward.

You have your health, and that is critical in sales. It is a stressful occupation, an emotional rollercoaster that can quickly spin out of control. Make sure you maintain your health by adjusting what you eat and drink. We all know what we are supposed to do, we just don’t do it. Well, this next year let’s all do it!

Expect ingratitude. This way, bad news and bad behaviour never catch you mentally unprepared. Your client chooses your competitor and not you, despite the close relationship you have together. You feel like you are dealing with an unfaithful spouse and are burning up with rage. If you assume ingratitude is the usual state of the world, then you just brush it off and move forward. That good client of yours will be back at some point, so don’t blow the relationship for the sake of one deal going missing.

Count your blessings, not your troubles. You are focused on how hard it is to push the rock, but not your strengths. You have experience, contacts, track record and a good reputation in the market place. You are a professional who always has the client’s interests as your first priority. You practice your craft and you study to improve even further.

There are always more potential clients than time available to service them, so there is no lack of potential. Your competitors are not studying, and don’t have the client’s interests at heart. This gives you an advantage over the long term, as those rivals just flame out and disappear.

Try to profit from your losses. Not every post is a winner, despite your best efforts. Analyse what went wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask the client for feedback. Our experience is the sum of our failures. We learn what does work by finding out what doesn’t work. In the startup world, they have the mantra of “fail faster”. This is an old idea. Edison applied this same concept to discovering which materials would work in creating his electric bulb.

Create happiness for others. Give something back. Provide advice, volunteer, turn up and help. When we give, we receive much more in return. Our soul is warmed by the act and our spirit is strengthened.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the hill in front of us. Break it down into centimetres and roll that rock a little a day, every day and we will get to the top. Ok, we have to start again, but that is the fun of the game. We get to play again and see what we can do this year. See which wonderful new clients we can help. See what creative solutions we can generate. We are an awesomely powerful learning machine and the game is our university of life.

Engaged employees are self-motivated. The self-motivated are inspired. Inspired staff grow your business, but are you inspiring them?