"The Navigator" News Blog

Let’s Get Real.

Is there a person reading this email who would deny that selling is a tough profession?  I doubt it – if you’ve been in the business for more than six months.  Selling is very tough.  I have a good friend who’s working as a salesperson after seventeen years as a nurse.  She once told me, “Saving lives is easy.  Sales is hard!”

So, when she called me yesterday to tell me that she was having a rough day – she’d made dozens of phone calls with only three contacts and no appointments – I gave her some advice that nearly blew her mind.  In fact, it might blow yours, too, but I’ll tell you what it was.

“Stop,” I said. “Just stop.  Take a sanity break.”  I could literally hear her jaw drop over the phone.  See, I know what my line is supposed to be.  “Keep at it, stay positive, work harder.  Persistence pays off.”  That’s true.  Persistence pays off.

Except when it doesn’t.

Can we be 100% honest and real with each other?  Like I said, I know what I was SUPPOSED to say.  Every manager, sales trainer, and author knows what they are supposed to say in that moment.  A good rah-rah, go-team-go speech, and she’ll be hitting her numbers in no time.  The problem is that, in reality, it doesn’t always work.

As I’ve said many times before, sales achievement is a simple equation.  Quality of activity, multiplied by quantity of activity, equals results.  The trouble is that sales is a MENTAL game, and your mindset can greatly affect the quality of your activity.  In this case, I quickly assessed that her mindset was so low that the quality of activity was near zero – and she would probably burn some contacts that might have done business with her in a different mindset.

It happens.  If we’re honest with each other, it happens to every salesperson.  It happens to rookies.  It happens to experienced pros.  And yes, it happens to the Sales Navigator.  We all have those days when we are figuratively getting our posteriors handed to us on a silver platter.  Maybe prospecting is going badly, maybe a couple of proposals didn’t come through, or whatever – but you’re on a bad run.

This is the moment where a bad run can get interrupted, or it can get worse.  You must assess your mindset.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I mentally in a place where I can put those setbacks behind me?
  2. Is my mindset such that I can be positive enough to turn a bad call into a good one?
  3. Am I ready to receive success?

In other words, do a quick head-check on yourself.  If your mind isn’t in the right place, you might burn opportunities that shouldn’t be burned.

As tough as this moment can be for a salesperson, it’s tougher for a sales manager.  We have an internal conflict.  We know what advice we’re supposed to give (GO TEAM GO), but as human beings, we also recognize that sometimes it isn’t the best advice. Go with your gut here; ask yourself the same questions about the salesperson’s mentality.

If your head isn’t right, it’s sanity break time.  This is something that’s up to YOU.  You need a way to disconnect from whatever bad day you’ve been having, but it should be a way that’s meaningful to you AND easy to transition back into work.  Let me give you examples.

I often work from my home office. So, an easy reality break is to go pet my dogs.  I’ve never failed to make a sale to my dogs in my entire 27-year career in sales.  And after about 20 minutes of that, my mind is right to go back to work.

On the other hand, one of my other ways of disconnecting is to go into the garage and work on a car.  That works great at the end of the day, but there isn’t much I can do to a car in 20 minutes, so that’s not a good midday fit.  I also like to take a quick ride on my motorcycle, but if the weather is bad, that doesn’t work.  You might need multiple options for a sanity break.

One that works well for some people – but not for me – is to read a good book for 20 minutes.  It doesn’t work for me because, if the book is really good, I can’t stop at 20 minutes.  WHAT you do isn’t as important as recognizing the need to disconnect and reconnect.  I would advise one thing, though.  When you disconnect, REALLY disconnect.  Get away from your desk, silence your cell phone, get all the way out of ‘work mode’ and get right back in again.

Sometimes what makes you effective isn’t your ability to persist or to push through – it’s your ability to hit “control-alt-delete” on your mind and reboot.  Don’t be afraid to do so every now and then.

And if you’re a sales manager, don’t be afraid to let your people do so.