Selling Yourself Out of A Fog
Selling is challenging and has its own unique pockets of pain. None are as frightful though as the gripping fear and desperation of a sales fog. That is how I refer to it. It can roll in like a thick fog and once it settles upon you, it is difficult to navigate out of. Some call it a slump, dry spell, a crash, bad patch, the skids…I could go on. Even the best sales people at the top of their careers have had the dreaded sales slump.
It looks very similar for most. Sitting there staring at your leads and opportunities and despising them. Each and every one of them. “Who are these people and why wont they buy from me?” And when you do call them it feels like a chore. You hear yourself sounding desperate. The worst part of all is that your prospects know it, they sense it like dogs can sense fear. So, the very thing you are trying to accomplish- which is make a sale- slips further and further away as you grasp in futility for a close.
One of my good friends Tony used to often say “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.” That’s a Confucius saying, but with his accent he made it sound like Frank Sinatra. He and I sold together on a successful team of SaaS software reps. Tony was one of the first salespeople I witnessed catapult from a slump to a record-breaking return to glory. He had five straight months of missing quota and it was painful to witness. He went from that to back to back winning Sales Quarters. What changed him into a monster salesperson? His mindset.
Change your mindset
Tony knew what motivated him, so he set his mind on that. He had always wanted to be able to take his family on a vacation to Hawaii. At the deepest pit of his sales fog, he booked an expensive trip to resort on Maui and put a nonrefundable down payment on it. He then set his mind on achieving that prize. Knowing he had made an investment, he basically set his mind for a one-way course to greatness.
“Burn the Ships”
One of my favorite sayings, “Burn the Ships” comes from a historic incident that happened when Cortez the commander landed in a hostile country. He ordered his men to destroy their ships, so that they would have to conquer the country or be killed. In sales we have to daily commit to what is in front of us. Why? Because the sales that need to occur are ours to seize, and that the slump we are in is our slump. Be strong enough to face this. If your funnel has evaporated due to less than ideal prospecting efforts, then own that. You own the outcome and the results, and you are good enough to change it. So burn the ships and conquer or be killed (metaphorically of course!)
It is not rocket science or complex math. Facing it head on because you know that paralyzing emotions like anxiety and fear are doomed to fail. The best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. This forward action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy. Dwell upon your achievements from the past. Stay focused on those activities that you know will pull you out of the slump. And remember to align with these next right actions and keep it all in perspective.
In sales, we know that we are going to fail from time to time, but the key is to have the mindset that never lets you keep from expecting results. What happens by expecting results is you stay motivated and this feeds the cycle of empowerment. Ask yourself if you think you’re going to succeed. If you don’t, then why bother? Staying positive, working hard and expecting it to happen is the right equation.
Reach the end of this
The fog will lift. Every slump comes to an end and you deserve to have the ending be of your choosing. Visualize it coming to an end. The urge when you are deep in the fog is to coast, give up and just accept failure. Do the contrary and think of 5 things you could do this week to work more effectively. Then dig in and commit to working a bit harder until you’re out of this bad patch.
Lao Tzu a philosopher, (not a salesperson) said “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”. I only know what I know about myself today because of the experiences I have gained and gathered. Every day is another opportunity to let go of what I have always believed about myself and to become more of what I might be. I guess in a way I am grateful for the fog and who I am after it has lifted.