life bootcamp: 6-months in sales

In October of last year, I took a new position as a Strategy Director with HireInfluence. As the name implied, and my interview lead me to believe, I was going to be creating strategies and programs for the company. My experience would have made this a perfect fit – I had already launched 3 influencer programs, custom tailored proposals for new business from existing clients, and had a few campaigns under my belt, including my resume hallmark, “Fit Girls Don’t Want Chocolate” for Twinlab and Reebok.

I wasn’t expecting to take ownership of nurturing all of our sales leads from point of initial contact through to strategy. But I had no doubt this was something I could easily handle – and would probably be a logical next step and career progression for me. I had always enjoyed nurturing new leads in previous positions – it was only my responsibilities for 10 other things in addition to this that made me resent it.

In a few short months, I had quickly got the hang of the Sales Development process, and to my belief, actually liked it. I saw new opportunities to further myself. There was a clear path for me to follow to improve and things for me to work on, meaning my work was leading to personal development. [And we know personal development can lead you to be more invested in your work.]

What I didn’t expect was that honing a new skill set would have a profound effect on my life as a whole. You have so much to gain by going through the Sales process and learning or strengthening skills.  If some of these sound appealing to you, pick up the phone and sell something. This is why MLM companies like Rodan + Fields, Advocare, Herbalife and Avon exist – open your social feeds and give one a try.

I was getting used to rejection. (Something I never took well.) Was it quite possible that dealing with so many rejections on a daily basis, made it easier for me to deal with it overall? Every rejection sent my way recently has been instinctually met with an ok. Like in business, you’ll get new leads, new open doors and new opportunities to chase. And that thought makes it easy to not take the rejection so personally.

I had a better understanding that there’s a such thing as “not a good fit”. We all know this, right? But I run into this situation 10x more dealing with leads and Sales than I did in previous marketing roles.  Sometimes I don’t want to admit it, because the situation is just too shiny, too attractive – but you are only meant to take on roles and situations that you are meant to succeed in. Where you can not only meet expectations, but you can blow them away.

My head has been reflective in all sorts of ways lately – I think any major change in life will do that to you. But lately, I find myself applying this same rule to leads, to dates, to relationships and friendships. I ask myself if this is something that is built for me to succeed? I’m not asking myself if it will be easy, but I ask myself are these expectations something that I know I can deliver? Or are they looking for something I know I can’t provide? Is this date looking for a new drinking partner? Because perhaps I can fit their need for one night, but they will be really upset when I start to care more about my health than I do about having a drink.

All of the sudden, I had a better sense that things “were not a good fit” – and I was ^^ okay with the rejection.

I kept my demeanor & attitude more positive. Even in the face of a difficult lead or someone giving ME an attitude, “What do you mean you don’t ‘do’ that for potential clients?’” For all the reasons I could lose a sale, attitude wasn’t going to be one of them. For all the reasons to win a sale, my attitude was going to be one of them. Habitually, I can admit that there were times where it was really easy for me to lose my cool, but practicing not losing it throughout the week also fine tuned my ability to stay a bit more positive and upbeat about personal life matters.

I started listening to my gut more. The best thing I had been mentored to do was to look for red flags during calls. And I realize these feelings happen more in my gut than they do in my head. My head is thinking about trying to talk, to deliver my pitch, to answer client questions, to explain the next steps to them – while my gut is reacting to their words, tone and vocal cues. Sometimes my gut has positive feelings, other times – not so positive. If you feel in your gut that something is right, but your head is struggling to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense, keep the faith.

All the drama I make in my own life comes from a battle between what I feel is right and what my head believes something should be like. It doesn’t matter if you chose to follow HEAD or HEART, but choosing one or the other stops the battle. Having to listen to my gut more in a Sales related position makes that decision for me and eliminates a lot of the constant battle in my head and heart over how to approach a situation.

I have more patience. Maybe not MUCH more, but marginally more patience. I’ve seen leads go through in 3 days and others take 3 months to mature. Timing is everything, especially more so in business. The solution is simply to fill the pipeline with more opportunities, but not lose faith in those leads that haven’t seen “The End” yet. Waiting is okay (SAY WHAT?) as long as you are filling that time with things that matter and will lead to more opportunities.