It was 5:30pm on Friday and everyone had gone home. I was asking myself many questions. I wondered if I was working for the wrong company, or maybe I chose the wrong industry. I began looking through my prospecting notebook and realized I had made hundreds calls in my first six months with little to show for it. I was tired, frustrated, worried and fearful.

I felt my weariness turn to anxiousness and my frustration to anger.  In that moment, my worry and fear were converted into action as I picked up and dialed the telephone in an attempt to reach a Director of a very large retailer in Southern California. Although he had rejected me no less than five times in the past three months, I was convinced that today was going to be different.

With my heart thumping and my determination greater than my desperation, I dialed the number.

Larry:   “Hello, Larry speaking.”

Jeff:     “Larry, this is Jeff Ruby. You probably don’t remember me. I have spoken with you five times in the past three months and every time we speak, you tell me to call you back at another time. I don’t want that to happen again. This time I want to know how I can be a resource for you and your 600 locations.”

Larry:   “I have 25 locations in Ohio. I will send you the list. Go ahead and survey those locations and send me a proposal.”

Jeff:     “Thank you Larry. Do you have a budget set aside for the surveys?”

Larry:   Chuckling- “No Jeff, if you want a shot at getting my business then you’ll have to do the surveys and send me a proposal.”

Jeff:     “Larry, I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to work with you, but…”

Larry:   “But, what Jeff? Do you want my business?”

Jeff:     “Yes of course I do. I’m trying to figure out how I can deploy my team to survey 25 locations around the state without a commitment for future work.”

Larry:   “Jeff, if I guarantee that you will get the business providing the return on investment of each project is under two years, will you do the surveys?”

Jeff:     Realizing his collaborative state- “Yes, I will do the surveys Larry.”

This was a breakthrough conversation and a milestone in my career. It happened when I realized that my level of maturity had little to do with my age or experience, but everything to do with my level of mental toughness.

If feel yourself being defensive, look no further than your mindset. Your level of mental toughness will tell you what you need to know about being an effective sales leader.

Here are the three steps to long-term sales success:

  1. Avoid Being Dependent

When we are Dependent, we allow our negative emotions to control our thinking and we become defensive. Don’t give up. Always be willing to do the impossible at the impossible moment.

  1. Use Autonomy as Leverage

When we move from Dependency to Autonomy, we become conscious and leverage our emotions and propel ourselves forward.

  1. Be Collaborative

Becoming Collaborative means we enter into a win/win paradigm and experience synergy. Where there is synergy there is trust. Always accept the challenge to meet someone halfway and don’t be afraid to make difficult decisions.

That Friday afternoon conversation with Larry will live in infamy as it produced $3.5 million in sales for me over the next 18 months. In addition, it has given me a lifetime perspective on mental toughness. I trust my story will be one that will encourage you to grow stronger.

Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.