Stay resilient and avoid the COVID-19 slide

I had the pleasure of interviewing a well-known psychologist last week on the effects of the pandemic on salespeople. When I asked her about the top area on which salespeople should focus, she said, “Being resilient in the face of uncertainty.”

I entered the world of entrepreneurship and started my professional development business 26 years ago this month. I realized that corporate life was not for me and thought I would start a sales training company, so I purchased a Sandler franchisee.

I experienced an interesting phenomenon during the first two months that I was in business in 1994. Working from my home, I began making my sales calls in November and December and began to think it was the worst decision I could have made. Prospects were telling me that they didn't have money for training as it was the end of their year and, with no prior experiences to draw from, the voices in my head said, “makes sense to me.”

By the way, working from home was a terrible choice, but I will save that for the next article.

I simply believed what prospects told me: “no money,” “holiday distraction,” “business over for the current year,” etc. I allowed my buy-in to their excuses to cloud my better judgment since they were giving me excuses that most salespeople regularly accept as reality. Unfortunately, we are in a similar situation today, only their excuses are magnified by the pandemic.

Most salespeople are falling for the same excuses I formerly believed and throwing up their hands in frustration. Many are disillusioned and anxious as the news reports affirm the long-haul nature of the pandemic. My question for those who are waiting for magic to happen is, “Are you resilient enough to advance your behavior in spite of the adversity you face?”

In my 26 years of business ownership, I have faced many, seemingly unsurmountable events: The terrible attacks of September 11, 2001; the banking collapse of 2008; and now the pandemic of 2020. Through these and many others, I have maintained a staunch resiliency in the abundant prospecting belief: Some will, Some won't, So what ... Next.

Here are some ideas to develop resiliency in your sales process:

1. Don't accept the current situation as fact. Ask questions and think, “What if the opposite were true, how would I act?” As a child in the 1960s I learned to question everything, and you should too.

2. Increase your knowledge and learn new skills. Salespeople focused on learning and then acting on the knowledge they have gained continuously raise their performance.

3. Take stock of the areas of sales you can control versus those you cannot. Focus on controlling the controllables. In sales you can rarely control the outcome, however, you can always control your behavior. Develop behaviors that drive success and KPIs to measure the successful execution of the behaviors.

4. Revisit your objective and determine your purpose. Make sure the goals and objectives you set at the end of 2019, prior to the pandemic, still have unconditional commitment.

5. Prioritize raising your self-worth. Make sure you balance personal and professional goals, so you work on “who you are,” not just “what you do.”

6. Develop and nurture healthy relationships. During difficult times, salespeople tend to isolate themselves from those who can be a support system. Now is the time to develop accountability partners and heathy competitors to focus on the behavior, attitude and techniques for success.

Remember the quote of Dr. Steve Maraboli, “Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient.” Go conquer your worlds.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. Text “salestip” to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.

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