What’s the Key to Success in Sales? Your Mindset.

Sales is a tough job that involves hearing the word “no” a lot. Here’s how to handle it without losing your cool.

Written by Yale Reardon
Published on Apr. 19, 2023
What’s the Key to Success in Sales? Your Mindset.
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What makes NFL legend Tom Brady so special? How has he managed to perform consistently as one of the best quarterbacks in the league for more than two decades, winning a record seven Super Bowls in the process? I believe Brady has an edge over the competition in his ability to stay locked in, level, whatever you want to call it, regardless of the seemingly impossible odds he is facing. Whether he’s coasting to a victory or down 28-3, Brady approaches the game with the same steady determination, never getting too high or too low. 

In sales, you may not be getting sacked by a 250-pound linebacker, but it can still feel that way when a deal falls apart at the last second. 

If you work in sales long enough, you’ll face adversity. Sometimes, the trouble only lasts a few days, while other times you may feel like you’re stuck in a rut for months. Many times, the problem is out of your control, as in the case of Covid or larger economic market corrections. 

Sales isn’t all doom and gloom, though. You’ll feel an incredible sense of joy when you close a big deal, book a meeting with a hard-to-reach prospect, or hit a challenging commission accelerator. 

The key to avoiding burnout in sales and making it a long-term career is to shift your mindset to mirror Tom Brady: Stay the course, focus on what’s ahead of you, and try not to dwell too much on the highs or lows.

4 Tips for a Positive Sales Mindset

  1. Remember you can do it.
  2. Don’t take it personally.
  3. Stay humble.
  4. Control what you can control.

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1. Remember You Can Do It

Hitting a roadblock in your sales career is a matter of when, not if. That email that was booking so many calls? Nobody is responding to it now. The deals you had forecast are suddenly pushed back or dissolved at the one-inch line. You get a nasty email back from a prospect that throws off your day or week. It feels like it’s been two months since you’ve closed a contract. 

This kind of trouble will happen. It happens to everyone. And it’s going to happen a lot. The key to sustaining a career is how you respond to adversity. 

A sales slump will give even the toughest minded people a feeling of imposter syndrome. Were all my previous deals just lucky? Did they fall into my lap? Am I cut out for this role? 

A terrific tip for restoring your confidence is to keep a folder dedicated to all your wins. This could include signed contracts, emails with praise, Slack celebrations, offer letters, and positive referrals. Revisiting these documents is like reading an old yearbook and seeing all the positive things your peers said to you. 

Start taking screenshots of any notes and adding a scrapbook of positive affirmation to your folder. This might sound cheesy, but it works wonders. Sometimes all you need in life is a good reminder that you’ve done it before and you can do it again. Head to this folder periodically whenever you need a little pick me up.


2. Don’t Take It Personally

Work in sales for six months, and I can all but guarantee the many of the following things will happen to you:

  • A prospect will no-show a meeting
  • A prospect will reschedule a meeting 10 times and ultimately lose interest.
  • A prospect you’ve been working with for months will leave a company right as a contract is set to be signed, making you start back at square one.
  • A prospect will show up late to a meeting, pay attention to nothing, and leave early.
  • A prospect will give you all signs that they want to move forward and then ghost you.
  • Prospects will hang up on you. A lot.
  • A prospect will email asking to be taken off your contact list.
  • You’ll hear excuses like “bad timing,” “too busy,” “low priority,” “no budget,” “bad fit,” “nice to have,” and other objections all day, everyday.

The point is, you’ll be hearing no a lot more than you’ll be hearing yes. Chances are, some prospects are even going to rub it in, sometimes trying to ruin your day.


3. Stay Humble

On the opposite end of the sales slump is a heater. Nobody likes the person who constantly flaunts their accomplishments and makes sure to bring up all of their wins, even when nobody is asking. Sales karma is a real thing, and the sales gods are always listening. I’m a firm believer that cockiness and overconfidence will come back to bite you.

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4. Control What You Can Control

This advice is evergreen in sales. You can control effort, attitude, and persistence. 

You decide if you’ll be making the extra calls, the emails, the prospecting, and working on your skillset. That is something that always comes from in. I can promise you that a Negative Nancy mindset will get you nowhere, and prospects will feel the negativity and desperation in you. Remember that Tom Brady has seen continued success for two decades by continuing to focus only on the things within his control.

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