by Bette Price

   Throughout your sales career there will be conditions you can control and there will be external conditions over which you have little control. It is important to know the difference and balance your energy accordingly.
   One of my earliest recollections of an external force creating an uncontrollable situation was many years ago when I was a flight attendant. My roommate and I were returning from a shopping trip when we heard on the car radio that an airplane had crashed outside Tell City, Indiana. We were startled by the news because it was the exact flight we were assigned to the very next day. You might imagine our fear.
   The next day we reported to work with a good amount of trepidation and concern. All airline personnel knew at that point was that the fatal flight had encountered clear air turbulence on what otherwise seemed like a beautiful, clear day. Fortunately our flight, and the next few, went just fine. Then one night we boarded the same type of aircraft for a turn-around flight from Minneapolis to Chicago. The flight to Chicago was quite uneventful with the exception of some mild turbulence on our final approach. Once on the ground and before passengers boarded for our return flight to Minneapolis, the captain called the flight crew to cockpit to inform us that radar indicated we might encounter some severe turbulence on our return. Therefore, he asked that we take extra precaution when we checked to be sure passengers had their seatbelts tightened securely. The captain also directed each of us to wait until he called us before we got up to begin any serving.
   At take-off I stared out the window as the aircraft began its climb, gazing at the dazzling array of bright city lights below. It was a beautiful, crystal clear evening--not a cloud in sight. We began to bank to the right, turning ever-so-slightly. Then suddenly, as if a giant hand had been thrust from the sky to pick up the plane we hurled about the sky with the most vigorous turbulence I had ever encountered. Pillows flew through the air, a garbage container flew down the aisle, dust wafted from the force of passengers being thrust up and down in their seats--the situation seemed totally uncontrollable. I remember thinking, "How on earth can the crew maintain any control of this aircraft?" Yet within minutes the situation changed. As suddenly as we had been thrust into chaos, the uncontrollable tumbling was replaced with calm, smooth movement. Soon the captain announced that we would be returning to Chicago and when the wheels touched the runway there was a roaring chorus of relief that resounded throughout the plane. Although emotionally shaken by the experience, we were all safe. Ultimately, the determined, skillful captain had maintained control.
   My purpose in sharing this story with you is that I believe it symbolizes the uncontrollable situations that are sometimes encountered in the field of sales. External conditions exist that we personally have little control of-no more than the captain of that aircraft did on that frightening flight. Yet, if, like the captain, we employ the very best of our knowledge, skills, commitment, despite the difficult external conditions, we have an opportunity to maintain some element of control-enough to pull us through the tough times and eventually achieve success. All too often, however, salespeople give an imbalance of power to the external conditions by using them as excuses. This imbalance of power only results in a total loss of control. Here are some ways which you can balance control and ensure safe, successful landings:

  • Persevere. As the old adage says, when times get tough, the tough get going.
  • Pay more attention to the little things. Even Donald Trump agrees that the devil is in the details. The tougher the conditions, the more important the details.
  • Rev up your brain power. There's always more than one way to approach a problem and chances are you haven't stretched you thinking quite enough.
  • Go back to the basics of selling. During good times it's easy to forget what created success in the past and sometimes it's as simple as following the basic rules of selling.
  • Think total recall. I'll bet you've got people in your rolodex that you've never followed up with. Now's the time.
  • Reach out and touch someone. Don't let those "no's" keep you from staying in touch. Every contact doesn't have to be a closing call. Sometimes just keeping in front of your prospects helps turn them around.

   There will always be external situations over which you'll have little control. What you do have control of is how you respond to those conditions. When you balance the power you give to external conditions with the power you give to your own knowledge, skills and commitment, you will break through the tough times, achieve new levels of success and have more opportunities to celebrate happy landings.