7 ways to develop grit – advice from top sales leaders

Grit is the figurative, emotional tough-coating that powers us through hardships, and the number one predictor of long-term success, according to psychologist Angela Duckworth.

Duckworth describes grit as: “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out – not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years – and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

We asked some of our successful global sales leaders here at Salesforce to share their advice on building a high level of grit.

1. Don’t give up

“I recently had a rep having one of the worst months of his career,” one of our VPs, Jeff Sinitean, says. “This guy is a future leader in this company and always goes the extra mile for the team.

“He was nowhere near quota, but he sent me a text at 8:30pm on a slow month and said he got the prospect to buy a single license, so we had another transaction coming over the finish line. He knew the team was going to need every little bit [of help] to get to the number we called as a team – and he was going to make sure he contributed, no matter what.”

2. Ride the highs and lows

Career progression is not always up and to the right. It can be messy – with downturns, lateral moves, new companies and the eating of some humble pie.

One piece of advice has always stuck with Colin Nanka, Senior Director, Enablement for Commercial Sales: “Think of your year like a rollercoaster. The stress on the ride comes when you take sharp turns, and surge upward and downward. Don’t over-celebrate the highs and don’t get too down on the lows. The less you travel on the emotional track, the more energy you will have to finish the ride.”

3. Take obstacles in your stride

Nanka was a decade into his career before he really understood ‘acceptance’. That is, being able to identify the obstacles ahead – knowing they’ll be there and they may not be fun – and then visualising a way through and over them.

4. Learn from wrong-turns

The growth from a new experience is valuable, even if that experience doesn’t work out in the long-term.

This particularly applies when changing companies. One minute you can be a top-performer, and the next you decide to take a gamble by moving to a new company.

“Sometimes bad things happen to good people,”  says Brandon Murray, Senior AE of Financial Services. “Don’t let them get you down. Work hard, and know the track of success is a winding road... not a straight shot.”

5. Understand your motivation

When you hit obstacles, it can be hard to see the bigger picture and muster the energy to keep going.

“Know your own ‘why’. What is your own motivation?” says Josh Guttman, RVP Health Care. “For some, it is about the pride of hard work. For some, it is to provide for their family. Whatever yours is, find it and think about it every minute of every day.”

6. Keep a positive mindset

Fariba Babaeizadeh, Regional Manager – Small Business, shared her grit-defining transformation: “I was transitioning into a more senior sales role – bigger accounts, and a transition from transactional deals to chunkier, slower and strategic [deals]. I was going on on-sites, having great conversations with clients, driving attendance to our events, making tons of calls a day, whiteboarding… but nothing was coming from it.

“When I think of grit, I think of attitude and positivity. I knew the moment I shifted to a negative mindset, my year would go down the drain. I stayed positive and kept doing what I do (with a smile on my face). The result: I ended up having some strategic wins that got recognition across the country, including my largest deal I have ever closed.”

7. Roll with the punches

Life often doesn’t evolve as you picture it. Being able to roll with the punches, to continue moving forward and make the best of every opportunity, planned or not, determines success.

It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.

Find out how other top sales leaders are getting ahead, download our 100 Sales Tips for 2017 ebook for free today.