By Bill Hellkamp
Selling is the ultimate, “what have you done for me today?” profession. While this can motivate many of us to meet and exceed our goals on a monthly or quarterly basis, it can also cause us to feel considerable pressure when the sales aren’t closing as we had hoped. During these times of soft sales it is vital for the salesperson to maintain a winning attitude, an attitude that the work we are doing will eventually produce the result that we (and our sales manager) desire. Here are ways that the sales professional can control his or her attitude.
Focus on your strengths – When we are being challenged by circumstances, it is natural for us to question our abilities. Each mistake we make is magnified beyond its real value, as is each disappointment. But to focus on our shortcomings and inabilities tends to put us in a downward spiral where we totally devalue our capabilities. To combat this pessimism we must actively remind ourselves of the strengths that have supported our past successes and dwell on them. If possible, we should put ourselves in situations where those strengths are reinforced and lead to some achievements, no matter how trivial. Then use these accomplishments to rebuild our confidence as we attempt more difficult tasks.
Associate with optimists – When we’re feeling down, it’s easy to find others to commiserate with us. We can feel a little better as we get assurances from others that, “The economy is bad” or “I think we’re overpriced compared to the competition”. But the problem with this advice is that we start to believe it and use it to justify our failures. Then our attitude goes into further decline. Instead, seek out and spend your time with people who are optimistic about the future, people who believe in themselves and look for ways to succeed rather than excuses for their defeats. These people will encourage and uplift you. However, they will also challenge you to strive to be your best.
Control what you think and say – The most important piece of real estate you own is the 6 inches between your ears! How we think about success and failure is directly related to our eventual success or failure. When our sales productivity is low, it can become difficult to keep our thoughts positive. Even if we are able to avoid negative association (see previous paragraph) we still need to control how we talk to ourselves – the thoughts that flit through our minds. When these are thoughts of defeat, it is vital to crush them by overwhelming them with thoughts of winning. For many of us it is difficult to fight that battle, so most successful people will write out a short personal affirmation message that they read often during the day. Using positive affirmations helps us to control what we think and say.
Act confidently – Henry David Thoreau encourages us to, “Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you’ve imagined.” I would say to “go confidently” is to act confidently. Speak with boldness and assurance. Talk about the future and believe in yourself. Walk tall and with purpose. Sit in the front of the room and be engaged. You will not attract customers if you look and act like you are lost. Strive forward with purpose in the direction you desire.
Know where you are going – When we are experiencing a sales slump, it is easy to feel lost and question our goals and direction. This sense of disorientation can prompt us to recast our vision and go off in a number of different directions. However, I would encourage you to commit to the goals you’ve set and to double down on the activities that need to be done to achieve the success you desire. In the words of Dr. Robert Schuller, “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” If those goals were valid before, there is no reason to think that they aren’t still valid.