Early in my sales career, it became very clear to me that my emotional state was the one thing I needed to control in order to have a good day at work.
- Good days equal good weeks.
- Good weeks equal good months.
- And good months equal good years.
For beginner salespeople, the challenge is to sell.
For intermediate salespeople, the challenge is to sell more.
For veteran salespeople, the challenge is to sell every single day for the rest of your life.
The challenge of sales is coming to work every day with a high level of energy and enthusiasm.
Some days you are more tired than others. Some days you have stress from family, friends, or lovers weighing you down.
Some days you just plain old don’t feel like it.
Salesmen get paid for results – just like athletes do
If you’re working an hourly job that’s not commission-only, then this isn’t such a big deal. You put your time in and as long as you do an acceptable job, you are paid the same.
Outstanding workers get paid the same as average ones.
Commission-only sales isn’t like that.
In order to make decent money as a commission-only salesperson, you MUST be outstanding at what you do.
Sales jobs have so many moving parts at any given time – and each one needs to be handled properly. Otherwise, you won’t sell.
You need to:
- have a clean appearance
- come to work with a positive attitude
- be well rested
- have the DESIRE to sell
- know the details of what you’re selling
- put the time into prospecting, pitching, and closing
This is just the surface of what you actually need to do. Each of those tasks branches out into several microtasks that further complicate things.
That said, in order to even have a CHANCE at checking all those boxes, you need to train like an athlete.
Think about it…
- If you are overweight, then your overall work capacity is diminished.
- If you don’t sleep well, then your performance will be worse at work.
- If you are eating junk food, then you won’t have as much energy.
- If you’re doing drugs, then you’ll be less focused.
- If you’re drinking alcohol, then your brain won’t work as well.
What do all of these bad habits have in common?
They’re all things that athletes don’t do.
I’m not talking chess champions – I mean football, basketball, rugby and lacrosse players.
At the highest level of competitive play, professional athletes look for every advantage they can in order to give themselves an edge over the other team.
While sales is not directly competitive like [most forms of] athletics, it’s impossible to argue that this line of thinking isn’t in your best interest.
Does this mean that the secret to selling is to avoid drinking alcohol and eating a clean diet? No.
But all things being equal, the salesperson who is avoiding alcohol and eating a clean diet will outperform the one who isn’t.
Putting aside all of the additional benefits like a longer lifespan, higher quality of life, and better body composition, having good habits like this will boost your sales indirectly.
In other words, these habits will put more money in your pocket REGARDLESS of how good or bad of a salesperson you are.
The Gas Tank Theory – true for athletes and salesmen
Beginners might find this hard to understand. They’re looking for “what to say when the customer says x.”
That’s part of the journey as well.
But there are only so many things the customer can say during a pitch.
- How much is it?
- Does it do <blank>?
- I want to think about it
- Let me ask my husband
- It’s too expensive!
- Does it have a guarantee?
And so on.
Once you adequately prepare boilerplate responses to the most common soundbytes you hear from customers, it’s time to fine tune your lifestyle.
So the question now is.. how do you train like an athlete?
Since I have no way of knowing how stupid the people reading this are, I’ll just briefly touch on the things you should hopefully know you need to do anyway to live a healthy lifestyle.
Then we’ll get into the more interesting stuff.
First of all, you need to get enough sleep. I put this first because this is probably the most important one.
During my time in sales, I created what I call “The Gas Tank Theory.”
The GTT states that a salesman has a finite amount of gas (energy) in their tank (body). Once the gas is exhausted, the salesman cannot work effectively until the gas is replenished (i.e. the salesman rests).
This theory deserves an article of its own, but for now suffice to say that once you are out of gas, it’s time to recharge.
Furthermore, once the gas starts getting low, the engine will start to perform worse.
In other words, when you are tired (running out of gas), your performance will begin to suffer.
The solution then is threefold:
- Increase the capacity of your gas tank
- Reduce the amount of gas you use while working
- Integrate habits that make your gas use more efficient
Like I said, I’ll go into those in another article. For now just know that you need to sleep enough.
I don’t like to put a specific number on how much you need to sleep.
In general, you should go to sleep when you’re tired and get up after you’ve had enough sleep.
When you are in good shape, this will become natural to you.
Speaking from personal experience, I generally go to bed around 10-11 and wake up around 6-7. I don’t plan on sleeping 8-9 hours, but after a full day of work + the gym, that seems to be what my body requires.
I also recommend melatonin for improved sleep quality.
Improving your sales by eating healthy food
This is one of those things that I feel should be obvious, but unfortunately that are people out there who somehow don’t believe that the quality of the food they eat affects their physical performance.
Those of you who have an actual athletic background will understand this.
The rest of you are hopefully at least aware of this intellectually, but choose to ignore it in favor of greasy burgers, fries, and ice cream.
Bottom line is this: natural food is the best type of fuel for your body.
- If it is made in a factory, eat it in moderation.
- If it comes in a colorful package, eat it in moderation.
- If it has a nutritional label, eat it in moderation.
- If you can’t immediately identify every single ingredient just by looking at it, eat it in moderation.
- If you couldn’t recreate it on your own after a nuclear apocalypse, eat it in moderation.
Despite its simplicity, this is probably one of the most challenging rules to follow.
We all love food. And we’ve been taught from a young age to use food as a way to celebrate.
So when we have a good day of sales, we may be tempted to let our diet slip a little bit.
Two things to remember here:
One, we don’t want to offset the blessing of a good day with a bad day immediately after.
Smashing a whole pizza and 2L Coke by ourselves will probably make us feel pretty bad the next day.
And if we feel bad, we sell bad.
Here’s the second one:
The momentary pleasure we feel from the sensation of food hitting our tongue is less than the lasting benefit we experience from eating a healthy meal.
Think of it like this:
- Eating an unhealthy (but delicious) meal: 1 hour of pleasure, 23 hours of pain
- Eating a healthy (but less delicious) meal: 1 hour of neutral, 23 hours of pleasure
(I wrote neutral instead of pain because eating a healthy meal is not a painful experience.)
Oftentimes when people switch to eating healthy foods, they’re surprised at how much more they enjoy the experience of eating.
It’s similar to investing vs going into debt.
- When you eat unhealthy food, you’re sacrificing long term benefit for short term gain. You’re essentially putting your body in debt.
- When you’re eating healthy food, you’re investing into your body for the long term. You don’t even really experience any short term “loss” so to speak, just a lack of extreme pleasure.
I recommend eating a paleo diet with mostly meat, eggs, veggies, and scaling your grains/carbs intake depending on your activity level.
Exercise: the key to making more sales
Working out is non-negotiable.
If you’ve seen my YouTube channel, then you know how I feel about exercise.
Sure, eating right and sleeping well are great. Supplementation is great. Having a positive attitude is great.
But without strategically putting your body under intense moments of stress in a controlled environment, you’re never going to be able to increase your overall work capacity.
Athleticism can never be divorced from exercise.
And as a salesperson, you are an athlete.
Ergo, salespeople must exercise.
- The stronger you are physically, the more efficiently you will be able to work.
- The more physically fit you are, the more confident you will appear to other people.
- The healthier your body is, the better your brain will work.
Not to mention you’ll sleep better, look better, and feel better.
With all the myriad of benefits of working out, it’s a wonder that more people don’t do it.
Sure, there are gyms all over the world. But the percentage of people who actually use them compared to the entire population of the planet is surprisingly low.
All that said, if you have a physically demanding sales job like I do, then you need to be smart about how you train.
If you go all out in the gym every day, you run the risk of not having enough gas left in the tank to do your job.
Back when I started doing kiosk sales many years ago, the industry was much different. There were no 8 hour shifts – everyone worked 11 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Add to this the fact that sometimes we would have a commute of up to 45 minutes EACH WAY just to get to work!
Do you think ANYONE had enough energy to go to the gym before or after work?
As the years passed and the industry matured, shift work became a thing. All of a sudden we were allowed to work “only” 8 hours a day – plenty of time to exercise.
Still, I had to be careful not to blow my load in the gym. Working 8 hours on your feet every day takes its toll on your body.
Especially when you do it 6 days a week.
But for those of you with a cushy office job, air conditioning rooms, and the luxury of sitting all day instead of standing, you can feel free to go balls out when you train.
Lifting weights is enough for most people. If you prefer a sport like boxing, Muay Thai, gymnastics or even yoga, then do that.
The point is that you need to do some sort of exercise on a regular basis.
And no, walking is NOT exercise.
Start with diet and exercise – then explore supplements
I was going to go into some of the more exotic ways I’ve discovered of managing my emotional state, but this article is long enough.
In another article I’ll talk about strategies I use to keep my mind and body under control during high stress situations.
Until then, happy selling.