“What are you going to say when the customer sees you walk in and asks what a young kid is doing coming into their business and attempting to sell them something? Are you sure you don't want to quit?"
I'll never forget these words. I was fresh out of college and finally taking my first strides in corporate America. I’d daydreamed about my career throughout my childhood, yet here I was in the early stages being taunted by a more experienced colleague of mine whose personal mission seemed to be discouraging me. He didn't think that I could do the job, and he wanted me to know it.
I’m going to share my unique path in sales with you -- but not because I want you to follow in my footsteps, because there are many ways to be successful. My point is simple: Your career (whether in sales or not) will have a wide variety of seasons, trials, and triumphs. Becoming wildly successful and creating momentum in your career is dependent on your ability to generate a favorable outcome, no matter what life throws at you. Instead of being a victim and a prisoner of your career, get into the cockpit and take control. One of my sales mentors trained me on “Tai Chi Selling.”
The idea is turning your prospect’s statements into catalysts for moving the ball forward. This is where you can actually turn objections into positives! This derives from the foundation of Tai Chi self-defense, which teaches you to redirect the energy of an incoming attack back outward.
Here's a series of decisions I've made to create momentum in my sales career:
1) Embrace the storms
Returning to the story about my first job out of college: I ignored the urge to give up and went on to lead our team in sales results. I actually used the criticism as motivation and reminded myself that pain and challenges tend to make you stronger. Isn't it interesting that unpleasant moments tend to lead to abundant seasons? Fight and claw your way through the storms of your career and you will come out a stronger, more capable professional. Sometimes you'll find that the biggest treasures lay just beyond the moments that you feel like quitting.
2) Skip stairs
I didn't leave my job when it got “hard,” I left when I found an opportunity that was two stair-steps up -- one I really had to stretch for. Not only could I reach a much higher income, I moved into a competitive and desirable industry that would help the next time I looked to go to market.
Leverage your talents and abilities, and go after something bigger than you think you’re capable of.
3) Grind and hustle
For a period of time at this new employer, I just couldn't get things clicking. It lasted long enough I'm almost certain most people would have given up or stayed in a sales slump until the employer cut them off.
This moment in my career was absolutely the most defining. At the time, it felt like I had everything working against me, but now I see that it was just what I needed. I had a healthy desperation about me. I needed to make money, I was waking up ridiculously early, taking the bus and listening to podcasts, seeking advice, finding mentors, listening to recordings of myself, practicing my sales pitches, and just flat-out wanting it more than anyone in the office. It’s similar to when you get on a bike; sometimes that first pedal forward feels like it has the most resistance, but you've got to push through that to get your momentum going.
4) Ride the wave
I started to get really good at my job. In fact, I went from being an average performer to doubling my sales in one year, writing a viral blog post about it, and mastering the ins and outs of the job.
I was promoted a couple times, and I was doing the things that I set out to do. This is the perfect time to do some experimentation with your sales process (or other career processes) -- I was learning so many different ways to win because I had the right swagger and confidence to try. Take advantage of these high moments and squeeze all the juice out. I focused on maximizing my income, stepping into leadership positions, and building high-quality relationships with the top people. It's like a surfer who finally catches the big wave -- take full advantage of it!
5) Make a power move
This is where things come full circle. Most people quit too soon, selling themselves short, when had they pushed past the adversity, they’d likely have found themselves in a much more advantageous position. It’s just as dangerous to hunker down in your “comfortable” job.
Switching companies isn’t necessarily the golden ticket, but it’s important to change your rhythm, learn a new set of skills, try selling a different way (virtual, outside sales, etc.), surround yourself with new people and perspectives, and work your brain in unfamiliar ways. This is a recipe for developing yourself and reaching new heights. It just so happened that for me, this meant changing companies after having a very successful run for three years at my prior company.
Not only have I changed companies, but I moved from Seattle to Silicon Valley without knowing anyone, and I’ve entered into an industry that I have no familiarity with. When I was considering leaving my company and packing my bags, I told a mentor of mine “I’m not so sure about this, I mean … I can do my current job with my eyes closed.” To which he replied, “That might be the very reason that you move on.”
You can’t control all the situations in sales, in life, and in your career, but using these tips, I encourage you to take what comes at you and redirect it into a positive outcome.
I would love to get your feedback on this article in the comments. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn as well.
Editor's note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn and is republished here with permission.