If you read the first two editions of “The Highs and Lows of Sales,” you probably agree that achieving cyclical sales goals is hard, whether you are an individual sales representative or a manager. Here are a few tips that have helped me find stability when facing challenging business expectations – I hope they help you, too.
1. Keep a feedback folder.
A feedback folder – a compilation of positive and constructive feedback throughout your career – serves two purposes. First, revisiting the folder when you hit a low point in performance reminds you how great it feels to succeed. Second, the feedback folder acts like an informal CV repository to help you remember critical successes or learning opportunities when you consider looking or interviewing for a new position. To make the most of your feedback folder, make sure the feedback comes from people above, below and beside you professionally. It’s also helpful to regularly review the constructive feedback in order to gauge whether you’ve made progress and to incorporate it into your development plan based on your career aspirations.
2. Find a safe person and place to vent.
Earlier in this series, I talked about the importance of keeping a constant positive attitude – regardless of performance against goal – in order to influence team morale. Attitudes are contagious, and professionals with leadership aspirations should especially consider how their behavior affects the people around them. Still, all professionals need a sounding board, and if chosen wisely, the outlet can be critical to career success. But how can you choose a safe outlet? Following these three tips is a good start:
- Pick someone who has more experience than you, since he or she will be able to give better advice and perspective.
- Make sure your outlet has no ulterior motive to tell others how you are feeling – the last thing you need is a human megaphone.
- Choose the venting setting wisely. In other words, I highly suggest you dish outside of the cubes, outside of the office and outside of ear shot from any colleagues who could take your conversation out of context.
3. Fix your eyes on the horizon.
Reflect regularly on what’s most important to you and your long-term career aspirations. While sales objectives sometimes feel uncomfortably unattainable, that feeling can push you to be more creative and try new tricks to succeed. According to this Entrepreneur magazine article, professionals should think like scientists and consider failures “data inputs” that help them get to the right answer. “Proving a hypothesis wrong is often just as useful as proving it right because you learned something along the way,” the article says. If you can pay more attention to the skills you’re acquiring and less attention to the percentage of goal you’re attaining, you are more likely to acquiesce to the uncomfortable expectations.
What are some of the other tips you use to keep perspective and stay positive when you are in challenging sales environments?