Succeeding in sales is 95-percent mental. If you don’t think you can succeed or land a deal, you will ultimately be right. But if you can remain positive you have a huge competitive advantage.
In this decade, sales is a very challenging profession. The way businesses sell is constantly changing, and many sales reps are facing impossible deadlines, strict accountability, dozens of curveballs with each deal, and pipeline scrutiny from all sides.
But there is a secret weapon — positivity. A positive outlook is essential for every sales performer and is one of the keys to my personal success. Wondering how you can you be positive when you and your team are at 48-percent to the plan with two days left in the month?
Or when you have to hit a high goal without any marketing support? Or when the deal you promised your manager and director you’d close this month just doesn’t happen?
It turns out staying positive in sales is all about your attitude. In 2008, Brian Halligan asked me to do a presentation at HubSpot called "Dan Tyre on Attitude". I was flattered but surprised that he wanted me to speak on that subject matter. So I asked my co-workers if they thought I was an authority on staying positive and they unanimously agreed.
It turns out, unbeknownst to me, that I had a very positive attitude about just about everything.
Based on experience I learned that staying positive had a big benefit to my sales performance, for my beautiful partner Amy, for my family (who complain periodically that my positivity is flat out annoying) as well as for my prospects, customers, co-workers and community.
So much of staying positive comes down to perspective and mindset. It’s all about the lens through which you see your job, your day to day tasks, and your career. As Wayne Dyer said, change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.
Here’s what Mike Noonan, Growth Specialist at HubSpot says about staying positive in sales:
"In order to stay positive, you have to focus on what you can control. If I can control or influence an outcome, then I will. If I have no control over something, by definition I can’t do anything about it, so what’s the benefit of worrying?
Understand what you could’ve done differently and move on. Of course this is easier said than done and it takes practice, but this mindset pays in the long run..
When it comes to staying positive in sales, a lot of it boils down to your 'why'. Why are you in sales? Why do you work at your company specifically?
If you know why you do what you do, it makes it easier to focus on your goals while being able to ride the ebbs and flows that come with any sales job. I love my job, I believe in our product and our vision, and I have awesome coworkers and team members, so that keeps me positive."
Staying positive also means remembering you are not your number. Jill Fratianne, HubSpot North American Channel Account Manager, frequently reminds me that your quota is not an indication of your effort, your thoughtfulness, or your values. "If you worry a little bit every day in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years," she jokes.
"If something is wrong, fix it if you can, but train yourself to not worry, Worry never fixes anything."
That also means cutting yourself a break and recognizing that you are going to be faced with some trying times. When the going gets tough, implement the following strategies to help you stay positive.
How to Stay Positive in Sales
1. Write out your annual goals and make them visible.
Goal setting is one of the best reinforcements you can have for staying positive in sales. According to Dr. Heidi Halvorson, author of the book Succeed, goals can be one of the biggest factors that impact your attitude because you focus on the positive outcomes rather than the nitty gritty problems. It also helps if you break down those goals into an annual plan for attainment.
Marlon De Assis-Fernandez, HubSpot SMB Growth Specialist in North America has the best spreadsheet for attainment staying positive I have ever seen. It breaks out everything he has to do for the year, with quota relief, number of deals, and deal size so he knows every day where he stands.
Where most sales people are worried about their standing for the month or quarter, Marlon has the data updated daily so he can avoid the emotional turmoil and stay positive because he always knows exactly where he stands, and how much progress he’s made towards his goals. He says:
"By planning, and visualizing their goals, salespeople are able to visualize worse case scenarios in detail. Especially those that give them fear or prevent them from taking action.
Through visualizing it and playing out the worst case you’ll find yourself able to come up with a better game plan to get out of that difficult situation and take action and by definition stay more grounded and positive."
Essentially, keeping your goals front and center and preparing for challenges before they arise are helpful best practices for salespeople of all levels.
2. Create a vision board.
This is a fun way to remind yourself of your key priorities. A vision board is a digital or physical compilation of pictures of what you want and desire for your career and/or personal life. This can include major purchases, travel destinations or big milestones.
Looking at your vision board should help you feel motivated to not sweat the details and keep you moving in the right direction.
3. Have a strong foundation.
Good health is not something to take for granted. According to Harvard Health, the three pillars of performance are eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. In a demanding field such as sales, these are critical activities that can help you keep a positive mindset.
When salespeople get cranky or are experiencing burnout, it could mean it is time to take a step back and focus on self-care.
4. Incorporate more humor into your day.
Find a good joke, pun, haiku or sales phrase that makes you, and people you engage with happy. The ability to laugh at yourself or break the ice with appropriate humor can help you feel more positive.
If you aren’t comfortable bringing the jokes, you can try adding stand-up from your favorite comedian to your playlist to get through the day with a bit more positivity.
5. Turn on your favorite playlist.
A good playlist is essential. Nothing gets me smiling and ready for my next sales call more than a great playlist of motivational tunes. Some of my favorite artists to listen to when I need to pump myself up are Aerosmith, Tool, and Government Mule. I have several motivating playlists to lift my spirits when I need it most.
6. Look at all your mistakes, even the big ones as learning experiences.
Though making mistakes can be painful and costly, they are one of our experiences to learn from. I sometimes ask reps to make a list of the three mistakes they make most often so they recognize and remember them, don’t obsess over them, and realize making mistakes is part of the learning process of becoming a better salesperson.
7. Create a shameless self promotion folder for future reference.
I learned this tip from Katharine Fischer, HubSpot CAM NA. She mentioned if I sent her a nice email she was going to save it in her SSP folder. "What is an SSP folder? " I asked. She explained that SSP stood for "shameless self promotion," and she looked at her SSP folder when she needed a reminder of how good she was most of the time.
Now, every time I receive a message complimenting my work I save it to my SSP folder. I have hundreds of emails from people, so when I verge into negative territory, I know just where to look.
8. Prioritize positive connections.
There are always three people in your network who make you feel great. Identify those three people in your network and when you are having a bad day, check in with them. I usually call them and say "Remind me why I am a good person, again?" They should be able to tell you your best attributes which can give you a boost when you need one.
Taking a critical look at your network, you can likely also identify three individuals who skew you towards the negative. Be mindful of when and how you contact these folks, especially if you’re working your way out of a rut.
9. Focus on relationship-building.
Kathleen Rush, North American Channel Account Manager for HubSpot is one of the most positive people I know and is a big believer in building relationships to stay positive. She says:
"When you work in sales, every call or meeting is a fresh start. Whether this is your first call with a particular prospect or the tenth, you have the power to make incremental changes to better your chances at closing or at least better your approach.
If a call doesn’t go your way, there is hope in the next call. The same is true of your quota. If you didn’t hit your quota, there is some small change you can make to better your chances the next month or quarter."
10. Find inspiration in your co-workers.
This is another best practice from Kathleen Rush. She is constantly looking to her colleagues for inspiration and knowledge. Here’s her advice:
"Everyone on your team brings something unique to their roles and they understand exactly what you are going through. Learn from them."
11. Remind yourself you are providing a service.
Ultimately, your company exists to solve the needs of your customer. Lean into the positives of your company and the products you provide. Here’s how HubSpot Channel Account Manager Olivia Kirwan applies this thinking:
"I stay positive by believing in the HubSpot product. We are constantly innovating, improving and adapting. Knowing that we sell the best in class software that makes a difference for our customer helps me maintain a positive outlook as I hit my targets."
12. Don’t quit.
Jill Fratianne also shared this piece of inspiration with me:
"Sometimes we fall on the right side of luck, have big months, big years and sometimes we put in the exact same and we could end up on the wrong side of luck. What matters is to keep going, always do the right thing, and control what we can control.
You need to trust in yourself and trust the process. Don’t get too high and don’t get too discouraged. Ride those highs and be prepared when you hit the skids. Trust in yourself and your process and just keep going."