“I never lose. I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela
Let’s be honest, in sales you're apt to hear the word “No” more than you hear “Yes”, and over time that can be a sense of frustration and in some cases a demotivating factor.
But it doesn’t have to be!
Believe it or not, you can embrace those failures and become a stronger and better salesperson than before. The key to overcoming the negativity of rejection is resilience and it can be built and strengthened with some effort and thoughtfulness.
Human Beings are Inherently Resilient
Jocko Willink, former Navy SEAL Commander and co-founder of the leadership consulting firm Echelon Front reminds us of the powerful stories of human resilience throughout history and the fact that underlying it all is that human beings were built to overcome adversity and each and every one of us is capable of overcoming challenges.
However, we will never know what we are capable of unless we allow ourselves to do hard things and experience and learn from failures. To find your mental toughness – do hard things.
If you're a parent, think of it in terms of allowing your child to fall down while learning to walk or ride a bike – how will they ever learn what they are able to achieve if we never let them try and fail?
Set the Organizational Stage for Resilience
We all want to succeed, and managers want their salespeople to win and meet their goals, but no one has a 100% closing ratio!
Leaders should be consciously aware of the climate they are setting in their organizations when it comes to their reactions and expectations when your salespeople receive a “no” to their proposals.
Resilience at the individual level needs a resilient organization that allows people to take risks and learn from their mistakes. Leaders and managers at all levels have the responsibility to create psychological safety and trust where failure becomes an opportunity to learn opposed to a moment of shame.
Stay connected to your people and build trust which will allow you to be a conduit to the learning and a foundation to their resilience. Create the mindset that every loss is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Building Individual Resilience
Think of a time when you received the dreaded “no”, how did you feel? Did you feel rejected? Did you blame yourself? Did you blame the prospect or customer? Maybe you thought if you gave it one more try, or tweaked that proposal a bit that they would come around.
The truth is, sometimes the answer truly is “no” and it is not you and it is not the potential customer, but the fit of that relationship at that current juncture in time. It is most likely not the last time you will speak with them and now, you know them better and when you have the opportunity to work with them again the relationship might be right, move forward with what you learned.
It's important to know that in order to learn from a failure or a mistake, you need to set your sights on a well-though out goal. This way, if you need to, you can find the step of the process where you may need to brush up or approach differently next time.
Paul Levesque, WWE superstar and Executive, suggests you ask yourself “Is that a dream, or a goal?” A dream will probably never happen, but a goal has a plan, and you work towards and achieve it with well thought out milestones. When you set a goal of closing a sale and properly work through the sales process, you can learn and improve at each step. Don’t just focus on the close, be intentional at each step so you won’t be reactive at the decision outcome.
Now, think about a time when someone else experienced rejection, how did you react? Did you offer them uplifting advice and show them the path to learning? Perhaps you shared with them a time you failed and how you overcame (and learned!) from that situation.
This is how you should treat yourself.
Don’t look for the blame, don’t let yourself be overcome by shame, practice self-compassion. Allow yourself to learn and improve, but don’t beat yourself up over the past instead look forward and take responsibility for your growth.
Resilience is a Skill Set
Being resilient isn’t a mindset or an aspect of a personality type, but a skill that can be grown, cultivated, and strengthened. But like many skills, in order for it to be sharpened, it must be tested.
Don’t stop challenging yourself or be afraid to fail, set your sights on your goals, make a plan, and forge ahead. You will either win or learn, but either way you will come out strong!