Stephen Newman’s Blog

Physically fit is not enough… You’ve got to be mentally fit too

Dare I mention the ugly subject of the England World Cup failure? After Sunday’s disappointment, the subject of recovery and training is a big one. You can expect the media to be full of speculation in the coming months

How do prolific goal scorers fail to hit the back of the net when it really counts? How does a goalkeeper fail to hold the simplest of shots that he has saved every time before? Our English team needs to get to grips with why they lost, if they dare to believe they can be world-class. This is not about emotion and blame. It’s about crystal clear, laser-like thinking.

The same goes for sales – Why do you sometimes get it wrong when you are sure you are doing everything right? To really understand your customers’ business and challenges, you need to take a step back and think. If you start making too many assumptions, you may find yourself drifting from feeling comfortable to anger or desperation. It’s easy to lose any influence you felt you had in the first place. Worse still, is the belief that if you forget the problem it will simply go away. “I’ll focus on the next deal”. Very good! But you are in real danger of scoring an own goal and repeating the problem if you do not learn from your mistake.

Ever heard of Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross? She wrote a book called ‘On death and dying’ and in it, she describes an emotional cycle experienced by terminally ill patients.

First people go into denial “This cannot be happening to me”. Then they feel anger “Why me? Why not someone else?” and slump into a depression. In the next stage, they start making irrational bargains with themselves – like ‘maybe if I get fitter, I won’t die’. Then they tend to go into an acceptance stage. That’s when they start to face facts and prepare to move forward again. They might not feel too happy but they know it’s time to move on.

All these stages – Denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance are normal. If you’ve ever lost a big pitch that meant a lot to you, you’ll recognise these feelings too.

“There must be a mistake. There is no way they could give this sale to another supplier”

“How dare they do that? Why didn’t they reject the other proposals rather than mine which was much better?”

‘Maybe if I go to my next sales meeting and keep a high profile and cover my tracks by volunteering to do other stuff, the sales director won’t raise the subject of my lost deal.”

Some people experience all these sensations fleetingly and move on. Other people remain worried, letting their negative feelings overwhelm them for much longer. This can impact future performance. We need to learn how to recover and win again. The best way to move on to the next successful sale is to get support and coaching to develop strategies that help you understand where the last deal went wrong. Some reasons might lie on the surface but the real truth may well be concealed within you and need to be discovered.

A recent study on LinkedIn showed that 80% of respondents say that after a loss, they move straight on to look for the next deal. I’d say probably 100% of those sales guys run the risk of making the same mistake again.

Yes, you need to look on the positive side and apply your talent to finding more business . But if you walked off losing the last sale, you’ve got to be careful you don’t walk on to lose the next one.

It’s all about technique and attitude.

But it’s not about blame. Blame just muddies the waters and holds you back. Many people are damning Fabio Capello right now for England’s heaviest World Cup defeat. But change also needs to come from within the team, if they are ever going to rise up as an invincible force again.

There’s no point beating up anyone including yourself about a lost deal. You can’t avoid thinking about it or try getting away with it either. That sets up a fail culture. The only way forward for England’s football professionals and sales professionals is careful coaching to learn how to be the most competent, incisive, ambitious and powerful players on the pitch. What do you think the England football team will do next? And what will you do on your pitch? Have your say here…

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