Paul shares two tips for finding opportunities in these tough times.
“There are no opportunities out there right now. Nothing is happening. Everything is canceled. No more projects until next year.” If this sounds familiar, you need a hard reset.
For every seller that tells you nothing is happening, I could find three other sellers that are making things happen. Every day, do a hard mental reset.
Don’t accept your temporary setbacks as permanent failures. This will blind you to opportunities that exist in front of you.
Don’t believe everything you hear. Some companies are thriving and finding new opportunities.
Hit the reset button every day, don’t believe everything you hear, and look for those new opportunities.
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How do I find opportunities in tough times? Part II
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about finding new opportunities in these tough times. Now what sparked this episode? Actually, I’ve spent time with several sales leaders in different industries over the past several weeks, and I’m hearing nothing but optimism. I’m hearing good news. And whenever I hear good news, I think it’s important to share that with the sales community. So, how do we find opportunities in tough times? That’s what we’re going to answer today.
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Let’s get back into that question. How do I find opportunities in tough times? First of all, I wanted to share what really sparked this. I was talking to a salesperson. I was doing a webinar with this group and afterwards, one of the salespeople reached out to me and we just started talking. The salesperson said, “Paul, there’s just nothing out there. There are no opportunities. I don’t see anything. Nothing’s happening. Every prospect, every customer I talk to that will even talk to me says that they are completely on hold for at least the rest of this year. And so nothing’s happening between now and then.” I understand that. This particular company has been hit especially hard by the pandemic.
But for every salesperson that tells you there’s nothing going on, I could find two or three more that have something that is going on. And the key is not waiting around for things to happen, it’s getting up and making things happen. Because that’s what you do during these tough times. You have to find opportunity.
What this salesperson has fallen victim to is what we call learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is a term coined by Martin Seligman, a psychologist back in the sixties and seventies. He experimented with a bunch of different animals. If you want to learn more about his experiments, you can Google them and that information is available. But what he found out is that after animals face hardships that they can’t control, that are random, they just start to accept them. They learn how to be helpless. They believe that the failure that they experienced, or the hardship that they experienced, becomes part of their reality. And because they believe that’s just how it’s supposed to be, they are blinded to the opportunities that are in front of them. I’ll give you one example of this.
Seligman was experimenting with dogs. Now, this group of dogs that he had, some of the dogs, before the experiment, received random electrical shock that they could not control. Other dogs did not receive random electrical shock. He took the two dogs. He put them in the same box; the box had two chambers. The chambers were separated by a low barrier. One of the chamber floors was electrified, and the other chamber floor was not electrified.
So here’s what happened. They put the dogs on the electrified floor, and as soon as they charged the floor, they noticed that some of the dogs would jump over the barrier, yet other dogs would not. It turns out the dogs that just sat there receiving the electrical shock were the same dogs that received random electrical shock before. And what they realized, or concluded rather, was the dogs that got the shock beforehand, that was random and they couldn’t control it, these dogs just started to believe that that was part of the reality. And so they just stood there and they accepted it. They didn’t even think to jump over the barrier. They didn’t even think to escape, because they were blinded to that opportunity to escape, because they learned how to be helpless.
Selling in tough times can be the same as one of those dogs that receives random electrical shock. Sometimes we just feel helpless, like anything we do is not going to matter. Well, that’s not the case. That’s not any way to go through tough times, because every single day you need to hit a mental reset—a hard reset—every single morning. You needed to wake up and say, “You know what? I don’t care how tough yesterday was. I don’t care how many failures I had, how many people didn’t call me back, how many people didn’t return my email, how many Nos I heard. I don’t care about all that. Today, I’m going to find some opportunities. Right now, there is someone out there that needs what I’m providing. There is a need. I just have to find it.”
Every single day, you have to maintain that positive mental attitude. You have to do a hard reset; forget about the negativity, forget about the failed attempts and realize that there are opportunities out there. So that’s the first tip.
The second tip: Don’t believe everything you hear. Think about Wall Street. Think about all the news that you’re hearing out there right now. Most of it is skewed towards the negative: all the companies that are suffering, the industries that are suffering. And again, in the media industry, if it bleeds, it reads. So they’re going to lead with negative stories all the time. I’ve noticed this even on my own newsletters that I send out. Ones that have a negative tone usually get more opens. People are drawn to that. But don’t listen to all the negativity. Don’t listen to everything you hear. I know that, right now, people are saying, “Hey, we’re headed towards the Great Depression. Businesses are tanking. People are going out of business.”
But I’ve got to tell you, things are also going well for some companies. It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, I’m going to give you a few examples just in the past week I’ve spoken to several sales leaders and salespeople that are thriving right now. In fact, last week, Friday afternoon after work hours, of course, I was playing golf with some buddies. And one of my buddies, he sells technology solutions. That’s what we’re going to call it. And I asked him, “How’s business going?” And he said, “It’s going great, man.” He goes, “I’ve actually hit my target already for the year, and we’re only in August.” And I thought “What a sandbagger.” You know, sandbagging his target? Tongue in cheek, of course. No. This guy absolutely is crushing it.
And so, as we’re talking, what’s funny though, later on in the round, he got a call from one of his prospects. We’re on the tee box getting ready to tee off. He actually took the call from his prospect. I was listening to him. And he was crushing the deal, man. He was really getting them on board. He even went up and hit his golf ball while he was talking to the prospect. What’s even more impressive is that he’s going to close that deal. And he kept the ball in the fairway while he was swinging and talking. Unbelievable! Things are rolling for that salesperson. Good things are happening.
Another example of this, I was working with another company. They’re focused in the design industry. And talking to their sales leader, he’s revealed that several new opportunities have materialized just because of the current situation. Companies are looking to redesign their offices. They’re trying to get people ready and back into the office. That requires their support. That, in turn, creates opportunity.
I was talking to a medical supply distributor. And one of the things they’ve started to do is they’ve pivoted into selling some additional products that they didn’t before, mainly PPE-type of stuff: the sanitizer, masks, things like that. But the fact that they were able to create those opportunities, it’s opened up some new accounts for them. And now, those new accounts present even more opportunity because they can grow their other product lines into those accounts. It’s them being open to opportunities.
Another example of this… I spoke to an automobile supply company the other day, and they said business is not only at the same rate it was last year, it’s slightly up because, again, they’re finding those opportunities. I realize, out there, it’s a lot of doom and gloom. People want you to think, “Oh, things are bad.” Remember, the more we think things are bad, we’re going to get stuck in that helpless mindset. And when you become completely helpless, you are blinded to the opportunities that lie in front of you.
Again, every single day, you need a hard mental reset. Remind yourself that there are opportunities out there. You just have to find them.
Make it a big day.