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Sales means getting knocked down

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.” - Ernest Hemingway

I’m optimistic by nature, so this quote might seem a strange way to start a column. While I'm an optimist, however, I’m a “realistic optimist.”

So what does that mean, and how does this quote relate to sales and leading sales teams? Coach Vince Lombardi famously said, “It’s not about getting knocked down – it's about getting back up.” That's the “realistic optimist.”

Those of us in sales have picked a career that means we'll get knocked down everyday and put our self-esteem on the line by being rejected. Prospects hang up on our cold calls and hide from us behind voicemail and email. It’s enough to discourage the toughest person. It’s enough to “break” us if we don’t look at all these occurrences the right way.

So what is the right way? Mentally/consciously separating your self-esteem, your self-worth from the roles you play each day either as a salesperson or sales leader/manager. Understand that all the various “roles” you have to play in sales are just that. It’s not who you are inside; it’s what you do – your role.

Selling is a “Broadway show put on by a psychiatrist.” Actors have their bad and good days on the stage in their “roles.” Those roles are not who they really are as people. But if they allow accolades or criticism of their performance to impact their self-esteem and self-worth, it can have a major negative impact on future role performances.

This doesn't mean you should not try to do your best in your role everyday. However, we are human and will have good and bad "role performance" days. On those bad days, when the world of sales leaves you feeling as if you’ve been run over by a bus, remember: Never let a prospect impact your sense of self-worth.

No prospect has the right to make you feel bad about yourself unless you take rejection, phone hang-ups and nos personally. Take the “no” on your “role” side of what you sell. That’s what they said no to – not to who you are or your self-worth side.

Realize at times in sales, and in life, we all experience a feeling of being broken, knocked down. But learn from it. Grow from it. Always get back up, as Coach Lombardi says, and never take anything personally in sales.

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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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