“Pain Relief” for the Ag Sales Professional
In sales, let’s hope most of us are not avoiding physical pain. Hopefully, no one is threatening you or you are not in an unsafe environment. However, when you pick up the keys to the company pickup truck and agree to go forth and sell, you are now going to experience some “Sales Pain.”
Sales pain includes:
- 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 buyer. 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 in 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.
These will only add to your frustration and pain.
- Communicate, over and over again….every day…all day: Storing up frustration and anger will lead to so 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 wasn’t completely true or was exaggerated. Start by getting the other side of the story.
- Follow up first, fast, and often: this is a part of communicating. Get back to your customer. Get back to those 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, seek out some of your peers on the sales team. Gain from their experience in 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 life or 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 to 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.
And the ability to apply your own “Pain Relief” can lead to so much more for you!