• Beth Reynolds

Top Sales Leaders Know How to Make Mental Pivots

Finish on top in 2018, only to start at ZERO again! (3 ½ minute read)

This article is the first of a four-part series. “Avoiding the pitfalls of starting at 0” is written for all of the sales people across our great country, who worked, like dogs, to finish out a strong 2018. Only to turnaround and see the leaderboard at 0 come January 1st.

There are both exciting and challenging things about a sales role. I love sales for so many reasons, however, this article focuses some of the difficulties. I’ll feature “Why I Love Sales & You Will Too!” under a separate cover.

I’ve frequently said that being a quota carrying, individual sales contributor in an enterprise sales organization, can be a lonely and bi-polar experience. We usually work remotely and without a sense of home-office community or support. We find ourselves in the field with customers where a sales rep needs to “be on” all the time. Or, conversely, we are alone in our home office in our sweat pants and isolated. The impact of the thrill of an intense victory, like securing a new deal, and then the crushing defeat of a back-office error that creates panic and stress for the client relationship, can wreak havoc on a sales person’s emotional stability. The intensity of a sales job is real and palpable.

So, we agree that a sales role is already stressful enough, and when you tag on the stress of a “year-end push”, the enormity of needed sales activity can do damage. Damage can take the shape of physical illness, emotional exhaustion, and personal overload. There is so much activity going on and no wonder by the time 12/28 comes around, we are exhausted. There is little left in the tank to celebrate our professional accomplishments.

There might be a few days of celebration or self-recognition during the end of the year for the significant achievements that were accomplished over the previous 12 months. But for the most part, the acknowledgments are short-lived. Most of the time we are either so exhausted or too busy to really enjoy the victory as it happens.

So now it’s January 16th, we finally catch our breath. We lift our heads from our holiday celebrations and we look at the sales scoreboard.

Have you had this experience? You locate your name and next to your name, it reads a big goose egg. 0. Nothing. Zip. Nada. No sales.

You’ve got to be kidding me, right? You’ve just kick major a$$ and now there is “zero” next to your name.

What have you done for me lately, right? This is the nature of the sales industry.

I want to give a shout out to all the salespeople who start at 0 every year with no annuitized business. If this fits your profile, please give yourself a big pat on the back for me.

Do you have any idea the amount of fortitude, courage, tenacity, and self-motivation that it takes to be in your position? Like many others in your organization, you worked so hard to close out the previous year. However, unlike your colleagues who are not in a sales role, you start at 0 in 2019. Yes, you can leverage relationships that you’ve been cultivating and yes, your pipeline will benefit but, you still start at 0.

The mental impact this has on a sales person’s psyche can be significantly challenging. Below are a few tips that may help bolster your mental game as you start this new year with excitement and optimism.

Avoid the pitfalls of starting at 0

  • Don’t allow yourself to fall into the mental trap of Black & White Thinking! Reduce the polarity of “all or nothing” by remembering all of your accomplishments.

  • Overachievers can have a tendency to ruminate on problematic people or situations. Learn to identify when your problem solving vs. ruminating.

  • Create healthy morning rituals that support your mindset and attitude. It will go a long way.

  • Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, take supplements that allow for optimal performance and eat healthy foods. Continue your exercise regime.

Today, let’s focus on the first bullet point, avoiding the trap of Black & White Thinking. Stay tuned upcoming articles where I will go deeper into these last three bullet points.

Black and white Thinking

Black and white thinking is sometimes referred to as polarized thinking. In this kind of thinking, there are only two choices…something is all right, or all wrong, all good, or all bad. If you are not a total success, then you are a complete failure. There is no middle ground, regardless of the situation or context.

There are times in which this is helpful, like compliance regulation. In this financial services example, there are clear compliance parameters regarding entertaining clients and non-cash compensation. You will either be compliant with SEC regs or not. Introducing shades of gray, or excuses can jeopardize one’s career.

For the most part, however, black and white thinking is problematic and is often the cause of extreme stress and tension. It’s common that High performers can, unwittingly, fall into this mental trap.

Thinking in an “all or nothing” framework leads to anxiety, depression, and frustration as options are seen as limited. Be mindful when/if you are falling into this trap. This mental pivot can help reduce stress and improve performance.

Good luck with your new year sales strategy and it’s execution!

You got this!

For more information on how to create morning rituals, reduce Black & White thinking and make the mental pivots necessary to win in the field, check out and the 30-Day Sales Surge.

Beth Finegan Reynolds is President and Chief Content Officer of

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