The Ultimate Sales Performance Turbocharger

by Chris Young

Resilience - the ultimate sales performance turbocharger.

Salespeople with resilience achieve greater and more consistent periods of sales performance than those without.

Resilience defined.

American Psychological Association defines resilience as: The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress -- such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences. 

Resilient salesperson overcoming challenges because they have the sales personality traits to win

The Sales Profession - the ultimate energy grind.

Think of the worst job you ever had. I bet time stood still. I vividly recall my worst job. The worst job I ever had was an analyst internship during grad school. I loved the company and the people but hated almost every second of the work. Life stood still that summer. I left work each day drained.

Likewise, few people truly enjoy cold calling, overcoming continuous rejection and losing a hard-fought sale. Without the requisite resilience, few are able to tolerate the significant energy grind in sales.

Thus the rampant turnover in sales.

The Four Contributors to Sales Resilience.

The four contributors to sales resilience follow:

  1. Requisite "Sales Personality" - The winning combination of Behaviors, Driving Forces (Motivators), Acumen and Competencies necessary to overcome the mental challenges in sales.
  2. Early Life Hardship(s) - Early life hardships shape the mindset to either become a resilient fighter or a victim.
  3. Vivid Goal Achievement / Sense of Purpose - Vivid goals and/or a strong sense of purpose can provide powerful motivation to overcome the mental grind that results from cold calling, rejection and the loss of hoped-for sales.
  4. Developed Resilience Skills - Enhanced mindset habits or resilience skills can help overcome adversity.

Let's review each contributor to sales resilience individually.

Requisite "Sales Personality".

Every sales role requires a particular sales personality to do it well.

Unfortunately, little may be done to develop a person's sales personality to be more ideal for a particular sales role. A salesperson either possesses the requisite sales personality to succeed or they do not.

The good news is sales personality can be objectively-measured. If you are not currently objectively-measuring the sales personality traits of each salesperson to understand specifically which traits statistically add / reduce sales it is very likely you are hiring low performers.

The sales personality traits you should be measuring include:

  • Behaviors,
  • Driving Forces (Motivators),
  • Acumen, and
  • Competencies.

Each sales role should be benchmarked and only those sales candidates who fit the sales hiring scorecard should be invited to work in that particular sales role. If you have not already done so, consider completing our sample sales assessment or contact us to learn more.

How does your sales team measure up?

Early life hardship - shaping a future resilient fighter or victim.

The right sales personality is essential to maximized, sustained sales performance. The only thing better than the right sales personality in a particular sales role is the right sales personality coupled with a resilient fighter shaped through early life hardship. This combination is often pure magic.

WARNING - Early life hardship can turn out to be either an incredible accelerant to sales resilience or a powerful drag.

I am sure you have noticed that some salespeople seem to have more "grit" or ability to weather challenges that bring most to their knees? Early life hardship often explains how they developed the resilience you are observing.

An illustration: One of the top salespeople in a door-to-door street sales company had a very low job fit score. Their sales personality was not a particularly good match to the sales benchmark. Yet this particular high performer crushed sales, often leading the entire company of several hundred salespeople. As a result, this particular salesperson was an outlier. This particular salesperson stuck out from the rest of the sales team on the performance curve. We immediately sought to identify if they had experienced an early life hardship. Indeed they had. During their childhood, their father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. The family became homeless. This early life hardship shaped this salesperson's resilience. 40 years later this highly-successful salesperson is still driven by the same energy to be successful despite facing emotional pain of rejection. Furthermore, this salesperson is in top physical shape.

There is scientific evidence supporting our observation.

The inspiration for this article originally came from Meg Jay's WSJ November 10, 2017 Saturday Essay - The Secrets of Resilience - What does it take to conquer life's adversities? Lessons from successful adults who overcame difficult childhoods. Read the rest of my article and then read her essay.

The following powerful quote from Jay's WSJ article makes a powerful case:

In 1962, the psychologist Victor Goertzel and his wife, Mildred, published a book called “Cradles of Eminence: A Provocative Study of the Childhoods of Over 400 Famous Twentieth-Century Men and Women.” They selected individuals who had had at least two biographies written about them and who had made a positive contribution to society. Their subjects ranged from Louis Armstrong, Frida Kahlo and Marie Curie to Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller. The Goertzels found that less than 15% of their famous men and women had been raised in supportive, untroubled homes, with another 10% in a mixed setting. Of the 400, a full 75%—some 300 individuals—had grown up in a family burdened by a severe problem: poverty, abuse, absent parents, alcoholism, serious illness or some other misfortune. “The ‘normal man,’ ” the Goertzels wrote, “is not a likely candidate for the Hall of Fame.”

Take an inventory of your best salespeople. How many have a story or two of early life hardship?

Consider your sales hiring process. How can you better identify salespeople who have experienced early life hardship?

As compelling as the promise of high performance resulting from early life hardship(s), caution is advised. Correlation is not causation. Not every child with early hardship turns into a cold calling sales machine. Many become victims. It is essential to identify early life hardship in combination with prior evidence of success in life.

For more background on the impact of early life hardship impacting future success, I highly recommend reading Meg Jay's new book, "Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience".

Vivid Goal Achievement / Sense of Purpose.

One cannot change the sales personality of a salesperson nor roll back the hands of time and lay them across the tracks of the early life hardship train.

resilient sales woman beats the odds because of her personality.jpg

You can, however, help each salesperson visualize their goals and understand their sense of purpose to help increase their sales resilience.

One's goals and sense of purpose are intensely personal. The key for a sales manager is to objectively-understand the Driving Forces or Motivators of each sales team member. Through this awareness, the sales manager can help each sales team member fine-tune their goals and sense of purpose to become more resilient than they otherwise would be.

Clearly this is a time investment and is one that is rewarding for everyone involved.

Notice the word, "vivid". The more specific the goal and/or sense of purpose, the more resilient or driven each salesperson will be in overcoming the frequent energy frictions they will inevitably encounter as they work to exceed their sales quota.

Developed sales resilience skills.

Resilience skills can be developed. However, one's ability to develop their resilience skills hinges on how well they enjoy their work. A powerful way to develop sales resilience skills in your sales team is through the following:

  • Model and expect Personal Accountability.
  • Set clear expectations and accountability for achieving activities and results.
  • Focus on the future rather than the past.
  • Treat mistakes as learning opportunities.

Optimize your sales team's sales resilience.

The optimization of your sales team's performance is a never-ending challenge. There is always something to improve upon.

Maximize the following five sales resilience areas to optimize your sales team's resilience.

  • Hire for sales personality AND demonstrated grit developed through early life hardship.
  • Help each sales team member develop vivid goals and a strong sense of purpose.
  • Develop resilience skills for each sales team memo and resilience skills is essential. by maximizing job match (sales personality), helping salespeople develop vivid goals / strong sense of purpose, develop resilience skills AND have experienced early life hardship(s).

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