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7 Ways to Build Grit and Be Exceptional Every Day

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Most salespeople want to be winners, but a select few are willing to put in the effort to get there. Those who do usually don’t possess a special skill or different approach, they simply show up and do the work -- even when it’s hard. You might call it desire, responsibility, or success. I just call it Grit.

When I joined HubSpot in its early days I was one of the few employees who hadn’t graduated from MIT. But I was confident in my ability to outwork anyone inside or outside the organization -- and that’s just what I did. I built a track record of dependability and Grit, and it became my competitive advantage.

Grit means you have the mental maturity to overcome any excuse in almost any situation. It’s the ability to push through, no matter what. Convince yourself you’re going to do something most people won’t, and practice behavior that makes it impossible for you to fold when things get tough.

It's great to know regardless of age, education, experience, or abilities, you can excel if you're willing to show up and put in the work. Here are a few of my strategies for approaching every day with Grit.

How to Build Grit Each and Every Day

1) Get Motivated

Selling is about providing value to your prospects without expecting anything in return. But you’ve got to really want to help your prospects. Why? First, because it’s the right thing to do. Second, when you’re doing something for someone else, your threshold for hardship is higher than if you’re merely working towards a goal for yourself.

To be successful on your hardest days in sales it’s important to remember why you’re selling. I suggest our salespeople make a motivation board to keep by their phones. Whether they’re making their eighth or eighteenth call of the day, a motivation board is a good reminder why they’re picking up the phone again and again.

You might sell to support your family, learn new skills, or just to prove you can master something tough. Capture your “why” on a motivation board and keep it nearby for when you need encouragement the most. If you have the right images, your board should bring a smile to your face and help you make that extra dial.

2) Focus on Goals

Oh baby, you’d better have goals -- and they'd better be written down somewhere. If you’re in sales and don’t have personal, business, or education goals, you’re going to struggle to end up in the right place. Sales is a rough profession, and if you’re not working toward something it’s easy to get discouraged and burned out.

Select goals that give you structure and measure success. If you want to make President’s Club next year, identify which steps and milestones you need to hit every day, week, and month to meet that goal. Define how many deals you’ll need to close, what the size and value of those deals needs to be, how many calls and emails you’ll have to complete, and how many opportunities you'll need to create to turn your goal into reality.

And remember attaining your quota isn’t a personal goal. That’s a goal someone else set for you, and that makes it someone else’s goal. Tap into your motivation to select goals that mean something to you, and beat them.

3) Be Observant

Get to know your personal rhythms. When one of our salespeople is struggling, I’ll typically ask, “How’s your sleep pattern?” “Are you eating good food?” “Are you exercising?” If you’re not prioritizing these three areas, your work is going to suffer.

If you fall into a rut every day at 4:00 p.m., schedule a Yoga class or a walking meeting during that time. If you’re most productive at 6:00 a.m., get up early and clock an hour or two of work at home before heading into a distraction-filled office.

Being gritty means you’re mentally aware. You’ve got to overcome short-term fear and lack of motivation to achieve long-term gains. Whether it’s being vigilant about getting eight hours of sleep, squeezing in a daily workout, or cutting back on alcohol during the week, find what you need to perform at your highest level and commit.

4) Picture the End State

Have you ever started to feel discouraged at the office late on a Friday night sending emails? We’ve all been there, but being gritty means you dig deep, picture how great you’re going to feel when you’ve blown your quarterly number out of the water, and get back to work.

This is picturing your end state, and it’s a strategy I use to push through hard deadlines and get a few more hours of work out of myself. You might call it karma or fortitude -- I call it Grit. Regardless, feeling a good result is a lot better than wallowing in self-pity. 

I recently got a message from a salesperson tasked with making 40 calls every day. She said, “Dan, I’ve had one conversation all day. What am I going to do?” First, I told her, "You are Kelsey. You can do anything." Then, I said, “Put in the work now, and you’re going to feel so good when you’ve achieved your number at the end of the day. It will be worth it.

That was all it took. She pictured her end state, pushed through, and scheduled four calls in the next 30 minutes. Picture yourself benefiting from your effort, know you’ll achieve it, and get back to work. For the record, I offered her a breakfast sandwich as incentive, but she declined. She said getting out of her rut was incentive enough.

5) Practice Good Mental Self-Talk

Receiving several rejections in a row and telling yourself, “I don’t care, I’ve got this.” is a difficult mental part of selling.

If you repeat “This is hard, and I can’t do it.” to your brain, eventually your brain starts to believe you. Positive self-talk is clinically proven to reduce stress, lead to better coping skills, and lower rates of depression.

Loretta Breuning, author of “Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels,” recommends building a positivity circuit for your brain. By spending one minute looking for positives three times a day for 45 days, Breuning argues you can rewire your brain for positive thinking.

I also keep two or three super-positive people I trust on speed dial. When I’m having a particularly rough day, I ask them, "Can you please remind me of the five reasons I'm a superior salesperson?" You’d be surprised at the powerful effect a few simple words can have on your performance.

6) Recap Your Successes

Document your goals and accomplishments each month. Lists are proven to reduce anxiety and promote creativity. And there’s nothing more satisfying or motivating than putting a slash through a recently completed task. Define your goals, review them weekly or monthly, and note each one as complete throughout the year. At the end, you should have 12 months of overachievement to look back on. 

But beyond that, documenting your achievements gives salespeople an instant boost. If you’re struggling to meet quota this month, look back at your list of achievements -- including all the months you did meet your number. Remembering you’ve accomplished your goal time and time again reminds you you’re capable of pushing through and succeeding.

7) Work Your Spiffs

If you’re setting tough goals for yourself, match them with comparative rewards. Want to close the biggest deal in company history? Ask your manager to pay for an extravagant meal if you pull it off. Want to increase your monthly call volume by 2%? Buy yourself a breakfast sandwich when you successfully make it through week one of your challenge.

Whether your spiffs are personal or offered by your manager, they’ll give you a tangible reward for taking on hard tasks.

So, what does Grit mean? It’s being responsible, mature, and able to push through fear and excuses to accomplish extraordinary things. It’s not competitiveness. It’s the mental mastery of knowing you can compete against yourself. You can do incredible things when you show up. Are you ready to get gritty?

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