Ever wonder how you can go home at the end of a long sales day and keep yourself from curling up in the corner of the shower, huddled and crying as you sing “nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard“….okay, so maybe Coldplay is a little melodramatic for a rough sales day but the sentiment fits.
Sales is tough. It’s not a game meant for the easy-going, affable gal with the ever present smile and the laissez faire attitude. Surely, you present that way at times for the sake of your clients, but the truth is that it can be a gritty, hard-nosed game. You need a tongue that glides, floats and entices with the movement of a lyrical gymnast and the mental fortitude of a champion chess player.
My first high-earning sales position was one as an Executive Recruiter during my mid 20’s. When I look back at that experience I realize that the saleswoman that I am today would have crushed that position and made the paycheck appear stolen (yes, I’ve reached that level of good). But, I wasn’t the saleswoman that I am today. Sure I was smart, intuitive, eager to learn, profit driven and ready to succeed but I was weak. I didn’t have enough life or professional experience, at that time, to rebound quickly from failure. The word “no” was a death sentence in my mind. I didn’t know how to qualify and push through an objection to determine if it was a real or perceived, but even more detrimental, I held on to the failure through the next call…if I made it there.
What helped me? I had a phenomenal mentor at the time. He was patient, cerebral and the father of two daughters, which gave him great perspective on the emotion that I was exhibiting. His name was Paul, and I’ll never forget his reaction to my tears after the first time a “potential” close fell through. He looked at me without judgment and simply said “you can’t lose what you don’t have.”
It was easily the most effective statement that anyone had made to me at that time. I was sobbing over a contract that never existed. Simple enough. There was no business to be lost, and there never is, unless the letter of intent, contract or “referral” is on your desk. I was crying over milk that hadn’t been spilt because it had never even been brought home from the grocery store.
Learning and remembering this lesson has been a key factor to my success since then. That one statement is the core to how I have been able to rebound quickly when it’s not easy, personally and professionally. So rather than spend your time mired in the world of Coldplay, mulling over opportunities lost, remember the lesson that sales will never be easy but you can make it easier for myself.