Who’s got your back?
How having a strong support system can help you succeed in sales
Cold calls, hang-ups, people we build relationships with ‘ghosting’ on us, a number constantly looming in the shadows that we are forever chasing…sales is hard and can be incredibly taxing on us in many ways: mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s important to maintain confidence, trust yourself, have a positive mindset and seek outside help when needed. While these are things we know, sometimes that is difficult to do with all of the factors aforementioned. There are two ways to impact your mental mindset. 1) Look inward: learn tactics to control your internal chatter, mediations, recovery techniques etc. 2) Look outward: get yourself an awesome support system of people who make you feel like a millions bucks (so that you can make a million). This post is going to focus on the latter. Let’s take a look at people who commonly fall into this group. Who are they, are they giving you what you need and how should we use them?
Your Manager — You manager should be your number one supporter. You should FEEL that they care, you should FEEL safe and you should have no doubt that they are fully invested in your success. You probably just had a reaction to this. Maybe you felt your heart get full and gave an enthusiastic “YES, I have that!”. Awesome — be grateful! Unfortunately, if you feel that way you are part of a lucky minority. In many organizations, we still haven’t fully come around to this concept that managers are there first and foremost to show care. If your reaction is something other than a “YES!”, I suggest ‘managing up.’ I’ve always thought of ‘managing up’ as making an effort to get all of your successes in the face of your manager — and that is certainly part of it — but another is being clear in asking for what you need from them. Ask your manager if they are open to supporting and encouraging you in the ways that are most impactful to you. This can be a delicate conversation, so practice with someone you trust and don’t accuse or make accusations. If you find yourself saying things like “you don’t care about me enough” you need to be cautious! That is an accusation and it might not be true to your manager. What is true are the feelings you have toward their actions, words and behaviors and expressing them in a professional and honest way could make positive progress in developing your relationship. Don’t ever forget that you deserve a great manager. You can take other actions such as identifying the best managers at your company and try your best to get on their team or find an organization that has a more progressive view on leadership.
Your significant other/friend — Oh, the brave souls that love sales people. There are benefits to you if your significant other, bestie or family member can celebrate your successes and remind you of them when you, inevitably, have an off day or lose a deal. Are you able to feel their confidence in your abilities? It is possible that their confidence in you will transfer and affect the amount of time it takes you to bounce back from failures. Everyone should have that cheerleader in their life and if you have one, don’t forget to use them. Take that break, give them a call, walk away from a frustrating situation and recharge. Just don’t forget to thank them with some champagne when you close your next big deal!
Your co-workers — The Gallup organization measures engagement through 12 questions that they have proven to be major factors in how engaged someone is at work (higher engagement = greater success). One of those 12 factors is answering the question: “Do I have a best friend at work?” This is often a stretch for people to grasp; how does having a best friend a work (or work wife / husband as we’ve heard them called) affect my ability to be successful and reach my goals? One reason to have a work bff is that they give you a space for ‘safe’ and ‘productive’ venting. Do you have that confidant that you express your honest feelings toward that isn’t going to judge you or put your job at risk? There can be many benefits if you have someone who can fill this role for you. If you don’t have that coworker yet, sit back, observe, collaborate, ask for feedback, celebrate each other…and before you know it you will have found your work bestie and ally. Be selective and monitor the relationship, this advice can backfire if you align yourself with too much negative. If every Starbucks run turns into the two of you complaining it can bring down your overall resonating energy.
Your Board of Directors- I suggest everyone to have a ‘Board of Directors’ in their professional life. A group of people who you can rely on for honest selfless advice or guidance. My Board of Directors consist of a few family members, an ex-boss, a great friend and a co-worker. They don’t know they are on my board but they are the first people I reach out to and keep in the loop on any big successes, challenging questions or career pivots. For me, they all have three things in common. 1) They know I’m a rockstar. 2) I admire them for a certain quality. 3) I value their opinion. Write down the names of these people and use it as a reminder to reach out when needing a diverse and honest set of opinions.
Another way to build this support system for yourself is to get out there and network with other professionals in your field. I am a busy working mom so I prefer online networking. There are a ton of online communities dedicated to professionals supporting and giving advice to one another. Some of my favorites are: Sales Skills for Women in Business and Sales Professionals Group on Facebook. On Linkedin, I suggest following hashtags.This will fill your newsfeed with people posting content on a certain subject which is a great way to expand your network. I suggest following #sales, #personaldevelopment #salesbestpractices and anything else that feels right!
I hope this was helpful. Also, don’t forget to, yourself, be a great supporter! If you play that role for people the universe will find a way to repay you for all your hard work! Lead by example and good things shall come!