Sales is all about rejection.
You’ll hear “no” more often than “yes.” You’ll lose potential clients and not know why. You’ll be greeted with silence on the other end of the phone. You’ll steer off track from your monthly quota more often than you’d like. For every win in sales, there are a hundred losses that paved the way.
However, successful salespeople keep moving forward regardless of the difficulties or failures they experience. They bounce back quickly, creating opportunities out of obstacles. They find a way to win despite the setbacks.
While salespeople will find success when they lead with empathy, they’ll find greater success when they respond with resilience.
When faced with a difficult situation, how do you respond? Do you run away or do you stand your ground? How you respond in the face of stressful or difficult situations is what defines resilience. In sales, how you respond to rejection is what ultimately determines your success.
Like empathy, resilience is a muscle that gets stronger the more it’s used. It requires not only flexing it in times of adversity, but actively shifting your mindset into one that is more confident, adaptable, and capable.
Here are five strategies to strengthen your resilience and find greater success in sales.
When you consider your own intelligence, do you believe it’s malleable or set in stone?
Those with a fixed mindset believe that they cannot change their own intelligence. They also believe they cannot change their character, traits, or creative abilities — these are all things beyond their control. Those with a growth mindset, however, believe that they can make changes. They believe that if they put in the time and effort, they can achieve the level of intelligence, creativity, or success that they desire.
Resilient people live with a growth mindset. Instead of placing preconceived limitations on themselves, they realize their potential and take action. They approach challenges as opportunities to not only learn, but to improve. Likewise, resilient people aren’t discouraged by rejection — they embrace it.
Carol Dweck, a world-renowned psychologist who identified these two core mindsets, wrote what perfectly encapsulates why being resilient requires a growth mindset:
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging time in their lives.”
In order to change your mindset, start by changing your definition of failure. View it as a learning experience and growth opportunity. When you approach new challenges with this perspective, failure loses its power and you gain control.
Resilient people understand that it’s useless to fixate on what is beyond their control, such as past mistakes and failures. They realize that dwelling in the past steals from the potential of the future; it essentially creates a negative balance for their future self.
While you can’t change the past, you do have the power to change the future. In most cases, this means taking full responsibility for what you do have control over: your actions and your attitude. If you’re in a difficult situation, identify what you can do to change it. However, also recognize when your actions are limited. Regardless of the constraints, it’s usually best to accept a situation for what it is and focus your efforts on doing what you can to make it better.
Sometimes this simply means maintaining a positive mindset, which has greater influence than it appears. Resilient people realize that they always have a choice — the ultimate one being how they react to a situation. By making the best of it, they develop an internal locus of control. This shift in thinking can cause a ripple effect, creating momentum to actualize future success.
Resilience is about accepting your losses, but preparing for the next win. One way to accomplish this is to simply imagine it.
It’s an undeniable fact that your brain is an incredibly powerful tool. According to recent scientific studies, your brain cannot tell the difference between a mental image and actual reality. What this means is that the daydream in your head is indistinguishable from what you’re experiencing in real life.
This can be used to your advantage to visualize a future in which you land that huge client or secure that impressive deal. Visualization — a technique that’s employed by some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and athletes — enables anyone to imagine a future filled with success.
However, it only works if you’re willing to put in the hard work to make it happen.
Resilient people employ visualization techniques to help them get back up and try again. By clearly seeing themselves succeeding, they lift any mental roadblocks and reduce the odds of rejection.
The next time you’re faced with an important sales call, imagine the outcome you want to achieve. How did it go down? What did you do? Use your imagination to create the scene in your head — the more details you can envision, the better. By visualizing your desired outcome, you not only trick your brain into believing it’s possible (or perhaps that it’s already happened), but you also gain the motivation needed to pursue your wildest goals.
According to the late entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” In other words, who you spend your time with shapes who you are.
While changing your mindset and visualizing success can help strengthen your resilience in sales, surrounding yourself with the right people is also important. The more you surround yourself with people who are driven to succeed despite any odds stacked against them, the more you’ll find yourself inspired by their drive and ability to keep moving forward.
Resilient people surround themselves with other resilient people for a reason: It keeps them from accepting failure as the end. Likewise, resilient people aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. By reaching out to others for courage, inspiration, or even a different perspective on the situation, they find themselves more than ready to try again.
When you fail, it’s going to hurt. It’s normal to feel a blow to your self-confidence and worth when you miss your mark entirely or outright fail miserably. However, resilience is about knowing that how you respond to failure matters more than the failure itself. When you’re resilient, you’re able to understand that it’s not a permanent reflection of who you are as a person, but rather an opportunity for learning and growth.
It’s important to remember your strengths during difficult or stressful times. What do others say you’re really good at? What do clients like about working with you? By reminding yourself of the value you bring, it cranks your confidence up a notch and makes it easier to keep moving forward.
This can also be a helpful exercise in identifying areas that need improvement. Resilient people are able to extract knowledge from failure and apply it to future situations. Maybe that sales call could have gone more smoothly if they’d known how to qualify better leads, research the prospect’s industry, or better identify the client’s needs up front. By recognizing the shortcomings of their current selves, they take action to create more value for their future selves.
The key to becoming a more successful salesperson isn’t running away when things get tough. It’s about accepting no for an answer, but not letting it stop you from making that next call. It’s about figuring out why that client suddenly left — and not letting it happen again. It’s about taking silence as a good sign instead of bad. It’s about hitting those numbers because you believe you can. Resilience is about standing your ground.
By changing how you respond to rejection, you’ll find the road paved with opportunity.
“While salespeople will find success when they lead with empathy, they’ll find greater success when they respond with resilience.”