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Overcoming Sales Setbacks

This week I turned a year older and it didn’t seem to sit well with me at all!

For starters, I tripped over the cat on Saturday night. Now I’m the first to admit that I’d had a glass of wine or two, but not enough to account for my sudden lack of balance!

Things went from bad to worse when I went out into the garden to check that the startled cat was ok. While trying to see where it was hiding I managed to head butt the garden wall and some furniture! Definitely age-related, I reckon.

So, two setbacks in the space of one evening. As you can see from the photo, it really didn’t end well. Still, not too much can harm my good looks, eh?!

Anyway, once my massive headache cleared on Monday (from hitting my head, that is, not from wine!) this experience got me thinking about how we can deal with setbacks in our professional life.

In sales, there are plenty of opportunities for a metaphorical bang on the head to knock us out. There are also lots of things that can happen that could set us back from achieving our goals.

Because we know that this is something that is likely to happen along our sales journey, we can prepare ourselves for it and have some strategies to hand to help us bounce back.

Here are my top 5 tips for making sure a sales setback doesn’t knock you for six.

1. Don’t take it personally

Rejections, challenges, and problems are all part of the reality that is the world of sales. They happen to everyone, and they aren’t a reflection on you as an individual. It can be hard not to take a professional setback personally, but you must try your best to see it as the wrong situation or the wrong time – not you being the wrong person.

2. Take some time to reflect

When I hit my head I went and sat down and had a bit of a physical and mental regroup. My wife checked on the cat (she knows who’s most important in this house) and left me to get over myself.

This strategy is also the right thing to do after a sales setback. Take some time to process what’s happened before you move on to another task. Don’t make any calls or write any emails if emotions or feelings are still running high. 

3. Identify why it happened

The main reason I fell over in the garden was that I wasn’t looking where I was going carefully enough! I could have blamed lots of things – it was getting dark, the patio was a bit slippery, some idiot put the garden furniture in the wrong place. But in reality, there wasn’t anything or anyone to blame but myself.

This is tough love, but the best place to start when you’re looking to identify what went wrong is to look in the mirror.

What could you have done differently to change the direction things went? Could you have prepared better? Could your questions have been more insightful? Could you have listened more and talked less?

Remember, the key here is to identify what went wrong from the point of view of the prospect, not from yours. Accept this, and act accordingly next time.

4. Get back on the horse quickly

Once you’ve processed things, worked out what went wrong, and learnt from any mistakes, the best thing to do is to get back out there as soon as possible.

Sometimes, as I mentioned above, that could be in just a few hours time. If that’s the case, you’ll need to work through the above steps quite quickly. If you’ve got the luxury of time, then use it to your advantage and do something positive – practice your scripts, speak to a mentor, research your next prospect more thoroughly, listen back to your calls, whatever you need to do.

5. Remind yourself why you’re doing what you do

I’ve spoken about this a lot, and existing clients and regular readers will know that this is key to success in sales. 

By refocusing on the reasons you’re doing this – be it for your family, to make a better world, to “show the man”, whatever it is – you will be able to accept that you won’t win everything and that you’re on a journey.

It’s the destination that counts, and the odd bump in the road or wrong turning doesn’t mean you can’t get there. Focusing on the positives like this is a powerful way to offset negative feelings about the setback that’s just happened.

So there you are, just a few tips on dealing with setbacks in sales. You’ve seen the photo, so don’t take on board anything I say about domestic accidents, but when it comes to overcoming sales setbacks I’ve been there, done it, and got the t-shirt. This is the reason that I can mentor clients who’ve had a negative experience and help them avoid this impacting on their performance going forward.

Let me know what some of your sales setbacks have been. What was the impact of them? Did it derail you? Did you take it in your stride? How did you manage the negativity?

If anything in this email has struck a chord and you want to chat through some of these issues to try and get your business or sales practice back on track, reply to this email and let’s set up a call to see how I can help you.

As ever, I’d love to hear from you about this or any other sales topic. To get in touch you can reply to this email, drop me a line to [email protected], or find me via the usual social channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – by searching for “JamesWhiteSales”.

Until next week, take care and watch out for cats and garden furniture – they are more dangerous than you think.

James White

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