5 top tips to thrive under pressure and hit your sales goals

A few weeks ago we polled you with a single question:

As a non-salesperson, you still have to sell your services. What, if anything, makes you anxious about selling?”

If you haven’t answered the poll, you can do it now by using the pop-up appearing below. We’ll be providing our take on how non-salespeople can address some of these common anxieties about selling so you can start moving down the path towards becoming what we call a “sales hero” – this is a non-salesperson who has the knowledge, confidence and skills they need to get the sales job done well.

Today’s sales anxiety is here:

“How does one deal with deadlines/sale goals and the pressure these bring?”

My take on pressure:

You’re not going to want to hear this but… pressure, like its cousin fear, isn’t real.

“But, I feel it!”, you say – and that may be true – still, the only psychological pressure you feel is the pressure you are putting on yourself. It’s true, – to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, no one, and no set of circumstances for that matter, can make you feel pressure without your consent.

The most useful thing you can do to manage the pressure you feel is to reframe it as the illusion that it is.

So why do you you feel pressure then?

Pressure comes about from the feelings we create when we react to a compelling or constraining influence, or an urgent demand that just has to be met. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some – lucky devils – thrive under pressure. Their motivation, concentration, and enjoyment is enhanced. Personally, I want, and look forward to, the feeling that pressure cultivates. Pressure keeps me on my toes, and motivates me to rise to a challenge. In fact, I’m not sure I could get much accomplished without pressure. Whilst I am motivated by pressure, others are paralysed by it and that’s a bum deal. So where does it come from?

Where does pressure come from?

In sales situations, pressure comes from a variety of internal and external sources, including:

  • your boss’s expectations of you
  • your personal expectations about the situation at hand (your desired result, the anticipated reward, what this might do for your career, praise and the payoff)
  • your colleague’s expectations (how will you look to them if you succeed or fail)
  • your prospect’s or customer’s expectations (will you uphold the image that your company is aiming to project?)
  • how well prepared you are (the absence of preparation can increase one’s perception of pressure)
  • the spectator effect (who else is in the room?)
  • the perceived importance of the situation (the size of the deal, the importance to the target, whether you are behind or ahead of your target)
  • the environmental restrictions and constraints (are there things you must avoid in order to stay out of trouble?)
  • your personal readiness to perform (your fitness, your mental readiness, how much rest you’ve had)
  • the last performance (did it go well or did you fail?)
  • other areas of life that might be competing for your attention (family, relationships, financial circumstances, etc.)
  • how new you are to the approaches you are trying in this particular situation
  • how prone you are to errors in this given situation

What a minefield! It’s a mystery we can get anything done at all with all this pressure, isn’t it? But, we can, and we do.

How to thrive under pressure

The most useful thing you can do to manage the pressure you feel is to reframe it as the illusion that it is.

(Yep, that’s a tweetable!)

Pressure isn’t something that happens to us, it is something we create in our minds. Once you understand that, you are in a position to control it. By controlling your reactions to pressure, you may find that you can take pressure in your stride, and in fact use it to your benefit.

My top 5 pressure-killing tips

  1. Focus on the sales activity, not the sales outcome. You don’t control everything. In fact, you control nothing but yourself. You don’t control what others are, think or do. Coming to terms with that (and granted, it isn’t easy) is an important step towards divorcing oneself from outcomes. When you focus on your activity, instead of your outcomes, you can approach pressure situations as if they were role-play or practice matches. This is one of the main reasons I rely so heavily on role play in my training sessions: if you can do it in role play, you can do it live! There is absolutely no difference. Strive not for a perfect outcome, but for excellence in what you do.
  2. Practice at the same level that you aim to perform. On the subject of role play, one of the things I like to do in training is escalate the nature of role play to be more and more challenging as the day progresses. Your best is only as good as you can perform in training, so learn to train as you work. And, don’t wait for a training event to practice; in the sales business, your opportunities to ask productive questions, listen intently, influence others and handle objections present themselves daily. Be conscious and use every opportunity to practice what you’ve learned.
  3. Practice laser-focus. When I’m delivering a training, giving a talk, speaking on video, or focussed on a client’s problem as they share it with me, a bomb could literally go off in the next room and I’d take it in stride. This is the result of practising laser-focus. Now is not the time to multi-task! I’d love to share a secret here that might help you overcome the need to invest years and years of practice into something, but I don’t have one. Perhaps the secret to practising laser-focus starts with focusing on a matter every day over a very long time, so that you can give yourself the opportunity to become an expert over the long run.
  4. Slow down. Rushing is a common reaction to feeling pressure. You might feel that by getting something over and done with you’ll make the pressure go away. This is an illusion. Errors caused by rushing only increase the feelings of pressure you have. Even with a time constraint, it is better to slow down… relax… and get it done right.
  5. Use your sales process. A good sales process won’t let you down. Practice, practice, and practice so that in time your process is as familiar as the lines on your palm. In large part, the process is there to relieve your mind from the mundane answer to the resource-consuming “what do I do next?” question, so you can focus on bringing your inherent genius to the situation at hand.

So there you have it – it’s time to give yourself a chance when you’re feeling under pressure, by reframing it for what it is. Use what you’ve just learned and you’ll be able to take it in stride in no time.

And I couldn’t resist this last bit. What article on pressure would be complete without this little gem…

2018-01-24T17:37:46+00:00 By |Categories: Step 1: Getting more leads|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on 5 top tips to thrive under pressure and hit your sales goals

About the Author:

Rod Solar is the Client Services Director of LiveseySolar, a healthcare marketing and sales training company. Rod has created hugely successful and highly engaging training systems for over 25 years. His advice routinely generates 6-figure incremental increases in income for his clients by teaching them how to systematically improve customer service while increasing sales at the same time. His trainings offer an elegant (and fun) step-by-step conversational approach which benefits surgeons, practice managers, hospital staff, and non-medical staff working in private healthcare settings. Rod wrote and delivered the Business Development, Clinical Governance and Medicolegal Issues module for the University of Ulster’s Postgraduate Diploma in Cataract and Refractive Surgery (Theory) - PgDip. He is a regular presenter at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeon’s Congress Practice Development Programme and has regularly published articles about healthcare marketing in The Ophthalmologist, Optician, European Ophthalmology News, Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today, Eurotimes and Independent Practitioner Today. Rod has been a professional salesperson (B2B and B2C), management consultant, college lecturer, an industry leader, and executive coach. His clients include Optegra, EuroEyes, ZEISS, Moorfields Private, London Vision Clinic, Thiele, and many other high-quality, private Ophthalmology clinics from the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, and the Middle East. Rod has a degree in Psychology and Human Performance from UBC. He lives in London, UK and you can follow him on Twitter: @rodsolar.