Let’s face it, sales can be a hard profession. If you’re on a commission only basis, then you know how easy it is to go from hero to zero at the beginning of each month as your quota starts over. You are constantly under pressure to make all kinds of numbers and metrics – number of calls, appointments, closes and revenues. If you’re in management, then you are also responsible for each team member and the goals of the whole department. If you’re an owner, then you often have the pressure of the board or the share holders to make your quarterly numbers or grow your market share.
What can make this profession especially hard is that it seems as if the battle to make all these numbers is fought one sale at a time, and each no you get takes a little bit from you and many no’s in a row can really bring your confidence down. So how can you stay positive and keep your attitude where it needs to be to keep picking up the phone, calling on those prospects and persevering to make a sale?
After years of struggling with these same challenges, I’ve found a reliable and consistent way to keep myself focused and smiling and dialing and contacting one prospect after the next. The great thing about it is that it costs no money, takes very little time, and I can do it anywhere and at anytime. It’s a method I never grow tire of, and, best of all, it always works to restore my attitude, my hope and my perspective. It’s called writing a gratitude list.
I was taught long ago that when things didn’t seem to be going my way, or if I felt like I wasn’t “getting mine” or if I began feeling sorry for myself, then it was time for me to stop and make a list of all the things I already had and to focus on how grateful I was to have them. I was told that many times we’re so focused on what we have to have next that we often forget to acknowledge and truly appreciate the things we already have and how fortunate we already are. Writing a gratitude list restores that appreciation and helps me to focus on the things that are truly important.
Writing a gratitude list is easy. You simply get a piece of paper, or make a list in a notes section of your smart phone or computer, and start with a number of things you’re going to list that you’re grateful for in your life. I’ve found that 25 items is a perfect amount for one sitting as it gets filled easily up to about 16, then I have to search deeper to find the other treasures in my life. If you think that you’d be hard pressed to find even 10 or 15 things you’re grateful for, don’t worry – once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how rich you truly are. Here’s a sample list to help remind you and get you started:
Often times I will break things down into categories to help prompt me. I always start with the most important thing of all, health. It’s interesting how I’m immediately grateful for the ability to walk, to see, or to do anything physical whenever I’m in public and I see someone in a wheel chair or disabled in some way. Instantly I’m reminded of how fortunate I am and of how I take such important things for granted. Spending a few minutes to really cherish my health has amazing positive benefits. I often list things like this:
1. I’m grateful for my total health today, and I’m reminded that as long as I have my health, I have hope. And hope is the start of everything.
2. I’m grateful I’m healthy enough to go to the gym, and that I can run, box, lift weights and get my endorphins going.
3. I’m grateful I can sleep at night and wake up without pain; that I am not enduring the challenges that a disease or diagnosis would impose on me and my loved ones.
4. I’m grateful that I can choose to eat a healthy meal; that I have food choices and abundant fresh water available to me and nearby whenever I want or need it.
5. I’m grateful for my Starbucks card :–)
As you can see, this can go on and on and sometimes does. Here are other categories in no particular order. Again, I use them as needed, and I expand and add to them regularly. Here is just a sample – by no means a complete list – of the things that might be included in each category. I’m sure that with just a little bit of thought you can add many of your items in each.
Work and opportunity:
6. I’m grateful that I have a job (or business) that gives me the opportunity to be of service and to make a living. If I’m in sales, then I have a company that provides me everything I need to succeed. They pay for the building, the rent, the products, the phones, the back office support, the training, the leads, etc.
7. I get paid to find people to be of service to! Wow, what an honor! My day always goes better when I remember that I’m here to find ways to help people rather than to get something.
8. Because I’m in commission sales, I can make as much money as I want! How fortunate am I? If I want a raise, all I have to do is find more companies or people who could benefit from my product or service and then meet them. Next year I could buy another home or car or move closer to retirement. Wow, I’m so blessed to have so much opportunity…
9. If I don’t have a job right now, then I have nothing but opportunity and I can do virtually anything I choose – the training, the colleges, the jobs, the opportunities are there for me to do anything I decide I want to do.
Family is always at the top of the list:
10. I’m grateful for my family and their health. I’m grateful for their love and support and the privilege I have to be in their life and the opportunity I have to add to their lives.
11. I’m truly grateful for the unconditional love I feel from my family.
12. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide for them the life I’ve had or didn’t have and for the opportunity to share in their lives as their futures unfold.
13. I’m grateful for the family get together this Thanksgiving and over the holidays. Though I may not always like them all on the same day, I do love and appreciate them for who they are and for what they add to my life.
This category and the ones before it can be a list of 25 items by themselves as you can see. We truly have so much to be grateful for. Here are 12 other random items that can also be expanded. As you read them, you might want to make a list of others that you think of as you go through them:
14. I’m grateful for my love of photography and for the wonderful cameras, books, and programs available to me.
15. I’m grateful to be alive in the beginning of the 21st century! I love technology and all the wonderful things it affords me.
16. I love my new iPhone 5!
17. I’m grateful for God and for my understanding of and relationship with Him.
18. I’m grateful for having my own business and for the freedom I have to take an occasionally half day on Friday and sneak off to the movies to see the new James Bond film on opening day!
19. I’m grateful I have a roof over my head and that my family didn’t have to endure days and nights without electricity or suffer the loss of life and home as many others did during hurricane Sandy.
20. I’m grateful I can contribute to the relief effort simply by picking up my phone and texting to the Red Cross or by visiting their website: https://www.redcross.org/
21. I’m grateful for my goals and plans for 2013 and for the opportunities to achieve them.
22. I’m grateful for the wealth of great books, CD’s, and other programs that keep my attitude focused on what’s possible.
23. I’m grateful for the NFL! I can’t wait to be at our local sports bar cheering on my surprising Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
24. I’m grateful for the unconditional love from the pets in my life.
25. I’m eternally grateful that I have the awareness and ability to stop and write a gratitude list like this…
Now I don’t know about you, but I already feel So Much Better. And I felt pretty good before I wrote this list! For me, the real magic of writing a gratitude list is that it takes the focus off of “what’s in it for me” and “where’s mine?” and puts it back where it should be – on what I can do for you. You see, when I take just a few minutes to acknowledge how truly rich and blessed I am right now, it’s so much easier to want to share this attitude with others. It’s so much easier to truly want to help others rather than to get something by closing a sale. And developing an attitude of giving rather than getting is what makes everything I do so much more rewarding.