Making Sales in Tough Times by Tom Hopkins

 In Leadership, Marketing, Sales, Sales Advice, Selling

The best way to sum up a strategy for succeeding in uncertain economic times is a very old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” When business as a whole slows down, it’s nothing more than a slump. Many businesspeople say there’s little they can do to change the market and they just have to ride it out.

If that’s the way you think, let me ask you this: Where would we be if we all thought that way about our planet? Simple awareness and creation are the desire of millions of people to see improvement in the way we care for our planet. When you and your neighbor recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles and paper products, you are altering the doom and gloom projections for the destruction of the earth. If you can make a difference in something as major as saving the planet, there is definitely something you can do about the effects of an economic slowdown.

The key to finding success within crisis lies in how well you handle what is happening. Succeeding or failing depends upon your attitude—and this is never truer than in challenging times. In the good times, we don’t pay much attention to our attitudes, but challenges are constant in our lives, so if you are to succeed, you must keep your attitude positive, even in times of crisis. This is because most of the time, we are either moving into, in, or out of a crisis period.

In business, the economic climate is always changing. For much of the time, the changes that take place are caused by outside factors that we’re powerless to control. But we can control how we react to a situation.

When you began your selling career, what did you have a big supply of? Do you remember? Enthusiasm. Burning desire. Excitement. The feeling of “Watch out world, here I come. Now that I’ve got this terrific opportunity in sales, there’s no limit to what I can do.”

Yes, you had enthusiasm and desire then. Yes, you were eager and excited about what you were going to do. No problem getting out of bed in the morning; you were raring to go. You had everything necessary for success, except for one item: knowledge. You simply didn’t know what you were doing. But that was OK; your enthusiasm made up for it.

Then what happened? Some months passed. You learned your product, your way around your territory, how accounts are found. But what happened to your enthusiasm?

It dwindled a bit, didn’t it? Your product is still as fresh to new clients as it was the day you started—it’s just not fresh to you anymore. You’ve had time not only to see the negatives that every industry, company and product has, but you’ve also had time to dwell on them and time to let these negatives affect your actions.

Your gain of knowledge merely matched your loss of enthusiasm and balanced your performance out to about average—far below your potential. Make no mistake about it: A champion is struggling to get out from underneath. A front-runner. A big earner. A highflyer.

So now you know what to do, but aren’t doing it. Why? In most organizations, lack of the specific product knowledge required for a sales position isn’t the main challenge among salespeople who’ve been there for several months. It probably isn’t for you, either. Motivating yourself to do what you already know you should do is the main challenge.

Why is this true? Because what you should do is not what you want to do. If it were, you’d be doing it.

Now we’ve gotten to the bottom of things. Why don’t you want to do what you know you should do? The reason you don’t is that you’re in conflict with yourself. This conflict comes about because the push forward of your wants and needs can’t overcome the push backward of your fears and anxieties.

Wants and needs are motivators and everyone feels them. “Have-to’s” and “need-to’s” are demotivators. When you feel a demotivator, you feel fear or anxiety, which is why demotivators are so powerful. They can dry your mouth, make your knees bang together like loose shutters in a wind, and light a fire in your stomach. Or they can work in soft and subtle ways to kill your motivation.

Almost every success-seeking person has been torn by this conflict at some point in his or her career. Many live with it all their lives. Perhaps we can’t eliminate the ongoing battle entirely, but we can decide whether we’ll lose every day, lose usually, win usually, or win every day. We can’t win every sale, of course. Forces beyond our control will cost us a sale now and then. That’s OK. What isn’t OK is to constantly lose out to our same old unresolved fears and anxieties.

Resolving those fears and anxieties is surprisingly easy when you know how to do it. The first requirement is to admit that you’re like everyone else—you have fears and insecurities. They may not show. On most people they don’t. But the people around you have them, and you have them. Recognizing that fact is the first gate you have to go through. The next one is to decide that you’re not going to let those beatable fears and anxieties stand between you and what you want in life any longer.

Write down what you can do to overcome them. Break them down into do-able steps and get on it. Every little step you take to overcome your fears brings you closer to letting that champion inside of you out. The answer to “why don’t I do what I know I should do” lies with only one person—YOU!

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