Sales Pain Relief

How to develop your own “Pain Relief” as an Ag Sales Professional

Ever thought about your daily selling struggles as pain?  When you decide to go see that difficult customer or collect from that past due account, do you think of it as pain?  If so, then we can jump right into pain relief.  If not, then I really want you to think about your perception of these difficult selling activities.  This may sound negative or counterproductive to being happy as a salesperson.  However, you can’t really fake your way out of feeling the pain.  You might try to ignore it or deny it.  But it’s still sitting there under the surface.  Making it hard to execute these difficult selling tasks. 

Think about going out to fix a customer complaint.  Late delivery or no delivery, product quality issues for the 10th time this week…. invoicing errors…always with the invoicing errors.  We have all been through these situations and they are best described as pain.  And our natural human tendency on pain is to avoid it.  We just naturally move away from pain.  As salespeople, we have one of two special ways to avoid pain: blame or tough guy exterior.

Blame is often our easiest approach.  We didn’t cause the pain.  So, who did?  We quickly decide and then go into our DISC-style reaction:  attack, ignore, define, connect.

We might next put up our tough guy image.  When the pain comes from the market, our competition, or a customer, we often put on our tough guy mask.  That doesn’t bother me?  I’m not worried about rejection!” are some of the words we say.  But inside, the pain is real.  What are some of these pains and how do we deal with them?

Sales pain includes:

  • Fear
  • Rejection
  • Distrust
  • Anger
  • Humility
  • Appearing incompetent or foolish
  • Making a mistake (this is mostly for two of the four DISC profiles)
  • Losing control

The struggle with these mental pains is they are often initiated by actions we didn’t do but are responsible for.  We did our job of selling and then someone else on our team messed it up.  We now have to answer for others’ mistakes.  This can be the most difficult pain for some salespeople to work through. 

Imagine you spend two years calling on a prospect.  You do everything in your power to sell them.  You finally get their order.  The products are made perfectly.  The accounting paperwork is all set up correctly.  Everything is clicking right along on this one.  Then, your driver shows up with the delivery and ruins the entire sale.  Maybe he gets mad at the customer’s unloading process or how long it takes.  He cuts in front of others that are waiting to unload.  He makes rude comments to the warehouse manager about the unloading process.  Later that day, you get a call from the customer.  She explains what happened and asks that this driver never show up again at their place.  If he does, it will end the entire relationship.

Screaming in pain, “Ahhhhh” is your first reaction.  That’s the mental pain coming out as a verbal tirade.  How it goes from there is up to you.  Most likely, you’ll call the driver or his dispatch manager and have a little “discussion” on how important customer service is, how long it took to sign up this customer, and how easy it is to lose them.

So how do we deal with these different pains that we have in sales?  I mean; is sales all negative and pain-riddled?  Of course not.  I find it the greatest and most rewarding of all careers.  But you need a coping mechanism to deal with the pain. 


  • Avoid/Ignore the pain
  • Stewing and Brewing – this one is a special technique we master in Ag sales because we often have long solo drive times.  Ever leave a farm after dealing with a customer service complaint and drive for the next hour just brewing over how frustrating the whole situation is?  There may be times when you don’t even remember the drive because you just kept going over the injustice of the whole thing, over and over again.

Make every effort to recognize your reaction and avoid these responses as they will only add to your frustration and pain. 

Instead, here are several action steps:


  • Communicate, over and over again…. every day…all day:  Storing up frustration and anger will lead to many other problems.  One of your first steps in any painful situation is to start communicating early and often.  The first step in communicating is to shift your mind to the “Seek first to Understand” mode versus the “Search and Destroy” mode.  Trust me, I have made this mistake way too many times.  My first reaction would be to get the driver, his dispatcher, and anyone else involved and let them know how badly they messed up.  Only later did I find out the customer’s version of the situation wasn’t completely true or was exaggerated.  Start by getting the other side of the story. 
  • Follow up first, fast, and often:  Get back to your customer.  Get back to your internal people that are causing the pain.  Let people know if progress is being made.  Even if no progress is made, let people know you haven’t forgotten it.
  • Get some coaching-mentoring-leadership:  When the pain hits hard, seek out someone who has been through the pain and learned how to cope with it.  Hopefully, your manager is the first resource that can help you.  I was lucky enough to have a great manager who functioned more as a coach/mentor than a manager.  If not your manager, then find one of your peers who has dealt with this situation successfully.  Gain from their experience on handling the pain.
  • Rise above the pain: This is a coping mechanism that can work for you when nothing else seems to be working.  By rise above it, I mean mentally picture yourself 20 feet in the air and you are looking down at the problem or pain.  Start by thinking really big picture and ask yourself these questions:
    • In the scope of my life, how important is this pain?
    • In the scope of my career, how important is this pain?
    • In the scope of our business (my company), how important is this pain?
    • In the scope of selling this customer, how important is this pain?

By the time you get down to isolating the pain in this one situation, you will have a much better perspective than if you immediately reacted negatively toward it.  Just taking a few minutes to rise above it and gain some perspective, will often alleviate a lot of that pain you are experiencing. 

Now, apply your own “Pain Relief” today, and regain the mental control of its effects on your ability to sell!

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