In order to be a champion, simply get up and fight another round

I’ve always thought that the true test of a ‘great’ seller or ‘great’ business person, as opposed to just plain old ‘good’ is their reaction to adversity. Its seems to me that hitting targets, making sales and generally doing well at what you want to do is the easiest thing in the world. I’ve seen the same progress curve, for sales people especially, over and over. They start slow, and build up nicely, usually getting a head of steam up corresponding to the efforts they have been putting in. They listen to the training and direction from their colleagues and management and reap the rewards of a focussed approach and a considered developement path.

Just when you’re not expecting it..

Then, invariably, disaster strikes. They lose some of their hard-won clients maybe. Or are taken ill for some period of time, or distracted some other way. And as a consequence that’s not always recognised, their numbers start to fall off. The carefully crafted approach starts to falter and they default to ‘other’ behaviours.

It’s at this point that we see the true test of their talent. Have they adapted their approach to be so expert it’s merely a question of re focussing on the job at hand, and rebuilding, or do they start to cast about themselves looking for answers – All the while ignoring the path to success they took in the first place. Does the pressure start to build to the point its the pressure itself that becomes distracting, or are they able to weather the storm and remain in the present and continue to excel?

Selling is a process. It’s not some arcane thing that needs to be guarded and protected. It’s not like some sort of hoodoo you need to ride the luck of to do well. There is no trick, no secret.

The more people who know about you and your business, the more people will do business with you. The more people who know why they should do business with you, rather than your most hated competitor, the more people will do business with you.

It’s about what you do, not what you say

Selling is a management of processes. See more, sell more. Inbound certainly has its place, especially today – but you cannot grow if you stand still and wait for the business to come to you. Studies have shown that the fastest growing sales operations are those that have a hunting culture. Thats is, where sales people are themselves responsible at least in part, for their own prospecting and their own appointment making. In business terms, sitting back and waiting for your clients to find you is never the answer. See more on this at the brilliant S Anthony Iannarino’s blog here.

Not everyone can sell, and not everyone can succeed in business – this blog isn’t about that – it does assume you have ability to close the deal, but given that, it’s always just about the process.

The number one reason for a reduction in your pipeline, is a lack of activity. Whether that is inbound, outbound, or ideally a combination of both. So given you have the ability to do the job, close the sale, sell the product, all you have to worry about it seeing enough people or getting enough people to see you.

Clearly, the better the quality or the people you see, the more chance you have of selling, but again, that’s a topic of  another blog! What we are talking about here is your response to adversity. Have you learned enough about the job to just pick back up where you left off? Or do you jump from solution to solution, looking for a magic bullet? Unfortunately there are no other solutions, there is no magic bullet. You just need to work hard at it.

When the going gets tough…

There are other types of distractions, much more serious distractions. Major life changing ones – and the sales people who I have worked with that I consider great, have ‘survived’ these and been mentally strong enough to stay on plan and continue to win. In my own life, when times are tough, I always remind myself that what I do professionally is ‘easy’ compared to what I have to deal with elsewhere, other than in ‘work’. But others have had other ways of dealing.

I am talking about maybe a painful bereavement, difficult relationship problems, serious illness or incapacity. There are a couple of things though, that I have noticed these ‘greats’ are able to do:

1. They stay in the moment – they don’t chase the past, or follow thoughts of the future, they understand that this will do you no good at all. Unless you have a time machine there is nothing you can do to affect the past or the future, so you may as well stay in the present. Deal with whats in front of you, nothing else.

2. They are proactive not reactive – They deal with the consequences of their actions, and what happens to them, they don’t worry about what things might mean, they don’t allow their mood to be swayed by external forces – Whether the sun is shining or the rain is falling, they keep on keeping on. Dogging it out. Following a natural and understandable period of reflection in the face of a problem, they just get back on the horse and keep moving forwards.

There is a constancy about what they do, and a control. They have learned, or maybe believe that what they do is ‘good work’, and it will continue to be ‘good work’. and they believe they have a control over their future, it’s not up to fate to decide what they will be, they carve out the future for themselves.

What do you think? Have you worked with one of these greats? What else do they have that sperates them from the rest of us? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think!

  1. audreymcsweeney
    audreymcsweeney says:

    Wow Tony! As a sales person who’s going through a bit of a slump that piece has come along at exactly the right moment! Instead of wallowing in the ‘Whaaa – why me…’ i just have to get on with the job at hand! Thanks for that!

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Great comment Audrey! And thats exactly what I am talking about, just grip it up, get it under control, and keep moving forward – good luck, let me know how you get on?

  2. Mike Bersin
    Mike Bersin says:

    I don’t think you’ve ever written anything that I didn’t get something incredibly useful and pertinent from, Tony. Thanks again. I think a measure of how good the advice is, is when you think “Oops; he’s talking to me! – How did he know I do THAT?”