Staying Cool Under Fire

Staying Cool Under Fire

Written By:

Lynn Whitbeck

We’ve all had those pressure-filled days that push us to the brink. While no career professional ever wants to lose their cool, there is an added burden in sales. A failure to keep your equilibrium in check can have huge consequences in a client relationship. The damage to the relational capital you worked so hard to build can be wiped out in a moment. It’s a long, hard slog to recovery, and your relationship may never fully recover.

I learned this the hard way. Without going into the minutia of my war story, I let a customer know I was very angry with them. I was seething and failed my own mantra of taking a step back and cooling down before responding. I reacted. Reacting is rarely, if ever, a good idea. Responding, however, is powerful: It’s about taking a moment to process the information and think before you speak. Responding does not mean you spend minutes, hours, or days with an action. It can be only seconds. The key is in the process of actively thinking first.

Within a few minutes, I deeply regretted my outburst. I immediately called and apologized. No excuses: I offered a sincere, heartfelt apology acknowledging I had been wrong. I was fortunate that my customer cut me some slack, and we continued to work together for many years. However, collateral damage had been done, and the nuances of our relationship changed. I was no longer a trusted partner and I could never regain that level of relational capital.

We all find ourselves in situations where our defenses are down and we’re closer to the brink of losing our poise. It could be that our organization has made an egregious mistake we have to clean up; we’re working very long hours and are mentally and physically exhausted; our buyer does something that makes us see red; or we’ve got a major personal crisis we’re coping with. It doesn’t matter what it is – that proverbial pin is about to drop.

As professional sales people, demonstrating to our clients that we remain calm and in command when it hits the fan strengthens our connection. It allows us to build up trust, confidence, and authority. Staying cool under fire is vital for our long-term success. Remember to think before you speak. Take a moment to clear your head and regain your balance. Several deep cleansing breaths, a walk or run, a call to a trusted confident, listening to your calm mix – do what you can to vent and release steam. Find what works for you to put things back into perspective and stay cool and collected. This will help you throughout your life and your entire sales career.

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