I sat in the parking lot of Sara Lee’s headquarters after a failed sales call. I recall feeling empty, uncomfortable, and even fear of what might happen if I don’t get a sale. Our company, at the time, really needed a win. Payroll wasn’t quite at stake, but we were six months out from trouble if we didn’t land something quickly. For months I had pushed and pushed to locate new prospects, get in front of existing clients, and find a project our teams could succeed at delivering.
You know that song, “Let it Be” by the Beatles? I’ve since heard that it is not a religious song at all, but it was to me. And those lyrics, “Whisper words of wisdom, let it be” rang true as a call for help along with my short, but sweet prayer, “God,” I called out. “I need help. We really need a sale.” My way wasn’t working. I surrendered, released my fear, and opened to alternative possibilities.
Shortly thereafter, a call came from an ex-employee. He had heard of a project at his new employer and thought we could help.
A cynic would chalk this up as coincidence and the faithful might see a divine hand at play. As it turns out, both positions are fine with me and neither is required to learn from what happened and benefit from it. I will explain my perspective and how every salesperson can remove the fear and self-doubt that push clients away.
There is a process that is simple to use and always effective:
First, you must acknowledge and accept your situation. Ignoring the issues leads to a field of energy building up and pushing people away. Think Pig-Pen and his perpetual dust cloud repelling most of the characters in the famous Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. The main difference is that your unconsciously projected fear-based field of energy is invisible and Pig-Pen’s was visually depicted. Acknowledgment might sound like, “This is interesting, I don’t have the sales I want right now.”
The next step: Be honest about why. The reason may be hidden underneath the artwork of creative blame or the blank canvas of denial. Both strategies, if implemented, will block you from seeing the true internal conflict that is the cause of your difficulty getting sales! Strategies of denial are nearly always formed as children or following some trauma that we were ill-equipped to address any other way. Our “successful” childhood strategy of denial was a survival tool but becomes a distinct disadvantage with continued use as an adult. Correcting this is part of the process leading to high performance. The truth is necessary, even if it doesn’t feel good.
When you allow the truth, inevitably, you will see the reason for your “misfortune”. Relating this to having difficulty making sales, you may get an insight, “Oh, I see… I have doubts about this product and don’t want to ruin my reputation. Understanding this, I definitely wouldn’t produce sales.”
Or, in my situation, I recall being afraid of failing, and that PRESSURE created a Pig-Pen style energy field that had me focused on failing rather than succeeding. My method used prayer to release that pressure, and open to a divine helping hand. Another method is to let go of your goal for the moment. “I cancel my goal to have sales.” Though counterintuitive, doing this will, while consciously breathing and allowing feelings, release the tension in your system just as a pressure cooker releases its steam upon completion. Once released, re-establish your connection with a peaceful state of appreciation, and create a new goal. It might sound like, “I allow sales to come easily to me and open all my senses to guide me to the opportunities best for me, my company, and the buyer.”
The next step is to assess your approach to sales. If it hasn’t been working, ask your boss, colleagues, trainer, etc… for support. Perhaps you need support with process, skills, or product knowledge. Check-in. What is it you most need?
The final step is execution. You just unleashed a powerful, simple process that will get you back on track. Action is next. Layout a plan for 30-40 days. Assess it weekly while setting daily goals aligned with your plan. If your plan is too aggressive, you will feel overwhelmed. Adjust your plan, at that point, and work with a pressure level ideal for your situation (i.e., gets results while maintaining values and relationships).
This is just one of many processes we use to support people in mastering and simplifying their sales success. We encourage you to use it. And, if you have a sales team or are looking to reach the next level of your own sales skills, let’s jump on a call and explore your situation.