September 12 is R U OK Day where we’re all encouraged to observe, listen and help people who might be struggling with life.
The very nature of Sales is filled with roller-coaster results, anxiety around performance, stress and uncertainty.
I preface the following thoughts with the disclosure that the closest I’ve ever come to being a medical professional is visiting a podiatrist once and buying a large pack of Band-Aids from the supermarket.
However, I have coached over 5,000 sales people in my time and there are some key ideas worth sharing so we can all look after each other a little better.
1. You are not your number. Whether you had a great year or a disappointing one, you are a wife, husband, brother, colleague, parent and probably a half decent person on days ending in a Y. Don’t let the target define who you are, either way. You’re not superior because you hit 100%, nor are you a lesser individual if you didn’t.
2. Be wary of seeking validation from clients. Many clients are great people and some are arseholes you never want to see again. Either way, they are most often not your best buddies despite the rapport you might’ve built. They have their own agendas – job security, ambition, bonuses and status to name a few. None of this is about you. Seeking validation from clients for you as a person may lead you to a huge rollercoaster of highs and lows depending on their moods, prejudices and biases.
3. Your company is not your Mum or Dad. Many companies invest positively and heavily in their people, which is great. They may pay well or provide great opportunities, but please don’t mistake this for love. One new CEO, merger or restructure can flip everything on its head. There is a trend towards selling the company as a ‘family’ or even purporting to love its people, which sounds more like a cult, because it’s simply not true. Good companies deserve our utmost respect and commitment. But be careful to not over-invest or confer your love on them – that’s reserved for your family, friends and dog.
4. The 110% Expectation Factor. Read emails at midnight, skip breakfast and the gym, miss your kid’s school play, jump on a plane to Singapore, go straight to a meeting, fly straight back, go to another three meetings, re-write the corporate presentation on the plane, and then run a national sales training program for 120 people before going home to crash three months later. Is that really the expectation, the balance and the life you want? Nobody has their title on their gravestone. Besides you can outsource the sales training to me. (see Cheap Plug).
5. Sales is a Win/Loss business and always will be. We can still improve without being ridiculously self-critical and we can all continue to grow without falling victim to hubris.
Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘If’ includes:
‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.’
Sales is a wonderful profession with many great rewards, but I’m just asking:
R U OK?
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Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate Sales, Negotiation and Presentation trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Asciano, Samsung and Lend Lease
He is the author of # 1 International Best Seller ‘ Confessions of a Pitch Consultant‘ and Sales Vs Procurement – The Secrets Unveiled at the Negotiation Table and is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two negotiators.
He is OK. Thanks for asking.