Does your work as a rep make you happy right now? Or is that something that’s waiting down the road?
Being a sales professional can be a really tough job – or a joy! The good news is that you’re in complete control of how you feel about it. People like you who help customers solve problems are frequently lone wolves, working their own “franchise” with little daily support. You likely live with the pressure of a quota, with others watching your numbers who can’t have a true sense of the real-world dynamics of business in your territory. You are not paid to play; you’re paid to win.
The sales profession often pays better than others, and the expected financial rewards and independent lifestyle are likely keys to your plan for a happy life. So here’s a question every salesperson should ask themselves daily: “Am I happy right now?” I believe that our primarily purpose in life is to be happy. Hitting quota might give you a big emotional and financial boost, but as soon as you’ve arrived there, the thrill is gone and you’re asked, “What have you done for me lately?” The happiness carrot moves out each time you succeed – if you’ve attached happiness to that carrot.
How would your life be different if you were happy every day? What if the daily work itself gave you an emotional boost, and not just when the bonus check arrived? Depending on how you cause your life to happen, that bonus could be just that – a bonus; something extra, well beyond what you really need to feel good! So how can you get to that happy place, and live there every day, while continuing to enjoy success the way the company sales plan defines it?
Set goals, but don’t attach to the outcome.
Sales is all about outcomes – revenue, close rate, gross profit. Results matter! Sure, the revenue matters for you and your company. But linking your feelings of success and happiness to those results is a losing strategy. Happiness is something you should be experiencing now, and in each moment. Expecting it will come when something happens in the future is a guarantee that it will never arrive.
Practice: Set goals for yourself and your business. Work like the pro that you are towards achieving them. But recognize that happiness and satisfaction result from how you are. They are determined by your view of the world – not what you accomplish. In addition to your business goals, set a goal for how you’ll choose to BE. Write it down. Your BEING goal might look like, “I’m going to BE grateful. I’ll think of three things for which I’m grateful when doing my morning stretches.” Or “I’m going to BE a loving person – to everyone. Before every sales call I’ll ask myself ‘How will knowing that I love my customers influence how I approach this meeting?’.”
Focus on accomplishing results, sure, but if you choose how you show up for the game, you’ll be in charge of how much you actually enjoy the game.
Feel connected, but stay detached.
Learning to control your “energy,” really your intention in any given situation, is at the core of sales mastery – and mastery of the game of life. Being able to tap into higher levels of this energy will enable you to understand the true connection between yourself, your customer, their customers, and the world we all share. With this knowledge, you can choose how you’ll play in any situation. Being able to see this clearly requires the ability to remain detached from the situation, to observe it objectively, and then react as you choose. This, like much of what we’ve discussed above, is a mind game.
Practice: Learning how to quiet your mind will help you immensely in developing the ability to be detached and objective about what’s happening around you. Before going in to a call, take a few deep breaths. Consider learning some simple centering or mindfulness techniques. Better yet, devote some energy to developing a meditation practice.
Over time, the ability to quiet your thoughts down will help you see each deal more clearly, be able to tap into your intuition to find solutions, and develop a real appreciation for yourself as the amazing human you are.
Love your “mistakes”
Here’s the thing: There are no mistakes. Everything that happens to you happens for you. What would your approach to selling be like if you truly understood that this is true? What if you were able to bring an authentic desire to help the right things happen for your customers, without fear of making a mistake and losing the deal? After a fearless, well-intentioned presentation, how will your customers feel the next time you call them up or walk into the room?
Practice: Look for the “good” in everything and everyone. At the end of the day, think about the things that were unpleasant. Write in a journal, or notebook or in an email to yourself what good things may have come from that. Force yourself to see that there’s value for you in every experience, regardless of whether you think it’s “good” or “bad.”
Arriving at the ability to see the world, your sales pipeline, and your customers’ needs fearlessly requires a significant mindset shift for most. Forever leaving fear in the rearview mirror, though, will empower you to sell with authenticity and close with confidence!
Understand your purpose
Successful selling requires personal authenticity. It requires connection with your customer, an ability to communicate your heartfelt desire to help them solve their problems, and the ability to act decisively and confidently to move the ball forward. Authenticity requires you to know who you are at your core. Who you are is not what you do. Rather, I’d encourage you to think of it is a way of being. As an emotional state. While doing your job well is one way to fulfill your purpose, it isn’t your purpose. Your purpose doesn’t change if you change companies, professions, or encounter a major life inflection point. Purpose is constant.
Practice: Working alone or with your coach, craft a one-sentence life purpose statement. Focus on how you’ll choose to be – not what you’ll do. When you’re comfortable with it, put it on the back of a business card and keep it with you.
Articulating your life purpose should really be a simple process. The words will likely come to you naturally. Having it articulated, though, and in the back of your mind will give you a strong foundation to support you with virtually every decision you make.
Relax -- (almost) nothing’s under your control
The number of factors that influence even the simplest sale can be mind boggling. A capital equipment deal can bring in layer upon layer of decision drivers and influencers, each with their own challenges and agenda. Controlling all of this is, well, impossible. Trying to control all of the variables in a sales deal will stress you out, keep you up at night, and conspire to attach your idea of success to getting that deal.
If you feel the need to be in control, that’s normal. Everything we hear from sales management tells us to be in control – and ahead of our competition. The only thing we can truly control, though, is ourselves. Control your intentions, how you’ll “show up” in every situation, and you’ll position yourself to achieve a successful outcome. Will you show up to win while your customer loses? Will you come at it from a place where you feel truly connected with your customer and seek a solution that enables both of you to win? Will you see the deal as a battle, or as an opportunity to serve a higher purpose? Each of these approaches might or might not be right in any given opportunity. Your job is to understand the customer’s situation, your situation, and the deal dynamics, and then to bring into place everything required for the deal to happen.
Practice: Before each meeting, take a couple of slow, deep breaths. Say to yourself, “I’m well-prepared and in control of how I’m showing up here. I can’t control the outcome, though, and I want whatever happens to be the best thing for my customer.”
When the time is right, you go for the close -- go for “no!” Then use what you learn to realign the pieces and ask for the business again. Ultimately, though, accept that the outcome is beyond your control. Your ability to achieve this mindset will only come with practice, but its mastery will reap you rewards well beyond what any individual sale could offer.
Happiness depends, then, on how we define “success.” Defined in terms of how we show up, it’s easy to be happy. It’s completely under your own control. Use the practices we’ve described to help yourself develop your skills, and you’ll soon come to recognize that a happy rep is a successful rep – and vice versa.