No Guts, No Glory. How tough sales people push through tough times

I was watching a movie last night.  Many of you have probably heard of it.  Friday Night Lights.  It’s about the Odessa-Permian football team in Odessa, Texas during the 1988 football season.  In the movie, the Panthers are facing off against the Dallas Carter football team for the Texas State Championship.  Throughout the first half, it seems like Dallas Carter is going to walk away with the title, but then, a glimmer of hope.  A pass is intercepted and the Panthers have some life.  In the second half, the heart of the Panthers begin to show as they fight back against the physically more talented Cowboys.  With 15 seconds left in the game, the Panthers are marching down the field down 6 points.  QB Mike Winchell takes the snap and see’s the only option is for him to keep the ball and make the dash to the end zone.  Battling through tackles and taking on defender after defender (my heart is pounding from the heroics of his effort even now) he gives one final push……. he came up short.  The Panthers lose!

Now some might think that the Panthers and Mike are losers.  They came up short.  I however see a different outcome.  When watching this movie, I saw a football team that was willing to give everything they had to try and get the outcome they desired.  Why then, in sales, do we become easily defeated?

I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with many sales reps out in the field.  In doing so, I have seen even the most seasoned reps come up against the most aggressive of prospects and bow out once it got tough.  I’ve seen new sales professionals give up after falling short and not getting the meeting or order.  Their mindset at some point changes from Victor, to Victim and giving up becomes the norm.

(Insert Inspirational Halftime Speech Here)

Sales isn’t supposed to be easy.  Like anything else in life, you have to work extremely hard to become a professional at selling.  Sometimes you are going to get bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s part of the game.  The difference between those that are successful and those who aren’t, is the willingness to continue after being beat up, turned down and hung up on.

As new sales people begin their journey, its important to teach them the importance of celebrating small victories.  It shouldn’t always be about landing the huge PO, however they are fun to celebrate.  If it was, there would be a lot more sales people falling by the wayside due to lack of success.

There have been several situations where sales reps have worked diligently to gain contact information at a given account and been turned away every time by the gate keeper.  Most sales people often give up.  However, there are those that then sneak into a side door, and find someone else who gives them the info.  They are now able to begin calling and emailing a contact in hopes of setting up a meeting.  Victory!

There was a sales rep, being new to his job, that shared a target at a strategy meeting with other more seasoned reps.  Those reps explained to the green horn that his target would never buy from their company and he shouldn’t waste his time.  That rep, made a cold call and got information about the person he should try to contact.  Everyday, multiple times a day, the sales rep called this contact.  No answer.  After about 50 calls, the sales rep thought about giving up, because lets face it, if the other more experienced reps couldn’t do it, how could he.  Instead, he pressed on and after 8 months (seriously) of calling the contact multiple times a day, the man answered.  He was able to set up a meeting and eventually found an area his company could help with.  Now, this is a very profitable account for the sales reps company.  Victory!

You see, it isn’t always about the big sale.  Sometimes it’s about someone answering the phone, returning an email, agreeing to a meeting, scheduling a facility tour among many others.  These should be viewed as victories in the selling process!  These should be points that are celebrated by not only the sales rep, but management and others on the team.  These small victories will keep the fire lite when it seems like the flame has almost fizzled out.

It is easy to become beaten down by the feeling of constantly coming up short.  It seems that we work and work, only to lose the business or not get the order and staying positive is a battle all in itself.  This is when, the most successful of sales professionals, tighten their boots and buckle their chin strap.  This is when they decide to make that extra phone call, stop by that building everyone else drives by and buys donuts to pass out to every person entering the target business, with flyers of their contacts name on it, in hopes of that guy agreeing to meet with them.  These are the people, that regardless of the outcome, can hold their heads high.  These are the ones, that when the big PO is received, will cherish it a little more because they are a little more beaten and bruised then the next guy…… Only difference is, they didn’t quit.

Don’t just be a sales professional. Be a professional at sales! Take control and win!

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