Working in sales can be challenging. On any given day, salespeople are faced with a myriad of obstacles, from trying to find enough prospects to fill their pipeline, to managing deals in progress, to keeping up with product knowledge; the list of demands is long. It’s a complicated job with lots of moving parts — not to mention an ever-looming quota that keeps everyone working on a timer — and it’s not for the faint of heart.
That’s why it can take a special kind of personality to succeed in sales. Not only must you be willing to handle the demands, but you need to do so while maintaining a high level of enthusiasm and optimism, not the easiest thing to do in the face of adversity.
There are, however, a few things that can ruin even the most optimistic salesperson’s day. No matter how thick-skinned you are, these things can instantly put you on the defensive and make you question whether you’re in the right profession. But rest assured, these things happen to everyone, so you’re not alone. Just keep the faith and push through, no matter the odds.
1. Getting stood up
In the dating world, there’s nothing quite as painful as having someone blow you off after making plans. In sales, it’s not quite as painful, but it’s close. Despite the fact that it’s rude, it happens all the time. Salespeople rearrange their schedules to accommodate prospects, some of whom won’t think twice about blowing them off; it’s just part of the game.
To limit how often it happens, always confirm your meetings beforehand, that way you can adjust your schedule and, if the prospect decides they don’t want to meet, move onto greener pastures. Don’t dwell on getting stood up, it happens to everyone.
2. Changes to the comp plan
There’s nothing that sends shivers down a salesperson’s spine quite like the words, “We’re changing the comp plan,” because — and let’s be honest with ourselves here — it usually means they’re getting a pay cut. To be sure, companies aren’t necessarily trying to pay less, they’re just focused on incentivizing things that are important at the time. But it’s hard for salespeople not to take it personally, especially when they’re used to things as they are.
Whenever this happens, remember that change is an eternal part of sales and business, and you can’t expect a company to retain the same comp plan for long. In most cases, you’ll still be able to do great things and make a living. And if not, then it might be time to look for a better opportunity.
3. Losing their meeting notes
We all try to be prepared, not just for our customer’s sake, but for our own sake as well. But have you ever spent an entire meeting taking notes only to misplace them, delete them, or (and this one really hurts) have Salesforce refresh and wipe them out? It’s not pretty, and it can make the process of trying to close a deal a lot more complicated as you’ll have to go back to the prospect and ask questions they’ve already answered.
Thankfully, this one is easily solvable with technology like Dooly, which can make the process of taking (and keeping) notes much easier and more reliable. But if you’re one of the people who still prefers a pen and notepad (no judgment!) then you’re still on your own.
4. Spending an entire afternoon on data-entry
Salespeople don’t make money when they’re not selling. Their only goal, every single day, is to find new customers and convince those customers to buy. Any time not spent doing this is painful for salespeople, and, for the company, an inefficient use of resources.
The solution is to upgrade your technology, streamline processes, and offer sales teams more support so that reps can focus on moving the needle instead of writing about the needle, describing what it looks like, and logging it into the CRM.
5. A post-sales disaster
You’ve built a relationship with a prospect, guided them through multiple presentations, made adjustments to earn their business, and finally got the signature. Then, when you’re on the BMW website, browsing the available packages on the new 5-Series, you get an email from the customer and a Slack message from the onboarding team… and it’s all falling apart.
Before you rip out your hair or crack open a bottle of wine, take a step back and try to look at the situation dispassionately. Disasters happen, and, despite being a terrible thing, sometimes they’re out of our control. People, of course, make mistakes, and salespeople make mistakes too. But if you’ve done everything you could and checked every box you knew needed to be checked, just chalk it up to an act of god and work your way through it.
6. Having their credibility questioned
There are, and always have been, elements within sales that give the profession a bad reputation. Unfortunately, there’s not much any of us can do about it except try our hardest to prove the stereotypes wrong, by being honest, transparent, and ethical. Despite this, some people will still assume the worst.
But instead of letting it ruin your day, use it as an opportunity to further develop your skills. If a prospect is distrustful, ask them to explain their concerns, listen to them carefully, and show them they can trust you. On the flip side, if you get defensive and push back too hard, you’ll just push the prospect further into their corner, and you’ll not only end up ruining your day, you’ll ruin a potential deal too.