Four types of toughness

To be the best in sales, you need to be as tough as an elite athlete. Ollie Sharpe from SalesLoft shows us how.

Back in June, we staged our second #SaasGrowth conference, at Here East, part of London’s Olympic Park. There were over 250 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 40 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our #SaaSGrowth2019 articles.

Ollie Sharpe

It was great to welcome Ollie Sharpe to the #SaaSGrowth2019 stage. I’ve known Ollie a long time, having worked with him at LinkedIn. Now, he is VP of Revenue EMEA at SalesLoft, our Diamond Sponsor. Ollie is a one-of-a-kind sales leader, full of ideas on how to do sales better.

The title of Ollie’s talk was ‘Sports science: driving peak performance in sales’. Ollie pointed out several similarities between sport and sales:

· You have to perform under pressure

· You win and lose

· Confidence and resilience are essential for top performance

Drawing on the work of Dr Steve Bull, an elite sports psychologist who took his learnings into the business world, Ollie showed us the four types of toughness that you need to truly be the best, at sport or sales.

1 — Turnaround toughness

This type of toughness deals with the ability to pick yourself up after a defeat. In sales, we face setbacks all the time; we lose deals, we miss targets, we don’t get the job we want. What separates the best from the rest is how they bounce back.

An effective way to pick yourself up after a knockdown is to reconnect with your previous successes. Think of how you got to where you are, the times you were at your best, everything you have achieved on your journey. Write them down. Then, read it and take it to heart. You have the skills to perform. This process will help you find them again.

It’s also vital that you learn from every defeat. What will you do differently next time to avoid a similar result? Learn and move on.

2 — Critical moment toughness

This is all about performing under pressure, at the exact moment you need to. It’s when the task isn’t out of the ordinary, but the moment is.

Remember all those times England went out of football World Cups on penalties in the 1990s and 2000s? Players like Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce knew how to take penalties. They’d done it many times before. However, when the pressure was on, they couldn’t convert.

Now, think about Jonny Wilkinson in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final? Kicking a drop-goal wasn’t an extraordinary task for him. He did it hundreds of times, maybe thousands. What he did differently from the footballers was do it under pressure, in the dying seconds of a World Cup Final.

In sales, we face those pressure moments all the time; that big pitch or crunch meeting. To be the best, you need to go out there and do what you always do, regardless of the pressure. The trick is to control what you control. You can only affect what you personally do, nothing else. Be calm, see and think success. Positive self-talk can also help here.

3 — Endurance toughness

Our next example of toughness is all about staying at your peak when you’re fatigued or stressed. In sales, it’s a familiar state of mind, but it’s important not to let it get on top of you, or you can become ill.

To maintain performance levels, even during an all-consuming Q4 push, develop rituals that nourish every aspect of your being. We call it the High-Performance Pyramid.

· Spiritual — Know why you do what you do

· Mental — Take time off to rest your brain

· Emotional — Make time to do the things you enjoy

· Physical — Keep your body healthy. Drink water, eat right, sleep.

4 — Risk management toughness

Our final type of toughness is the ability to make difficult decisions under pressure.

‘Most people don’t win gold by playing safe.’

Don’t be afraid of failure. Relish the challenge. However, there is a difference between taking calculated risks and being reckless. Stay the right side of the line.

Self-awareness is key to this type of toughness. In a high-pressure situation, be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. How do they contrast with your opponent?

Over to you

Ollie Sharpe told the #SaaSGrowth2019 audience how to develop the four all-important types of toughness. Now, we want to know what you think.

How do you build toughness and resilience in your sales career? What tips would you like to share with the Sales Confidence community?

Let us know in the comments below.

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