Are You Running on Empty?

Tired? Run down? Listless? Crabby? Running out of gas? Don’t be surprised. Those of us who’ve survived the last five years or more of recessions, economic turmoil, and pandemics have been through a lot. It’s been a trying time for anyone in sales. As my first boss always used to tell me, “These things are sent to test us.”


It’s taken a lot of desire and discipline to survive. Those that have are tired, some are burned out, and many are running on empty. See if you recognize any of the signs:

You don’t look forward to Mondays like you used to, and Fridays can’t come soon enough. Telephone handsets feel heavier than a 10-pound bag of potatoes and are getting harder to pick up. You think dark, ugly thoughts whenever you get someone’s voice mail. You spend more time in the office than you used too. You’re snapping at your spouse for no reason, and the kids get on your nerves more than normal. You go to bed tired and wake up even more tired. You need a vacation but feel you can’t afford the time (or money) to take one.

If this is you, it’s time to get control of the situation. This is the time to call on your reserves, reassess the situation, retrench, and move forward. It all sounds easy but it isn’t. Here are a few ideas.

First and foremost, take a vacation and get your batteries recharged. If possible, take two or three short vacations a year rather than one long one. Use the time to do a mental dump of all the work-related problems you carry around each day and get reacquainted with things and people you like and enjoy.

Take a fresh look at how you’re doing the job. Have you stopped doing the things that made you successful in the past? Are you getting bored with your sales presentation and starting to leave parts of it out? Are you making fewer calls?

Start keeping score differently. Rather than just counting sales or commissions, keep score of the activities that help make sales happen, i.e., keep count of the number of calls you make, presentations, follow-ups, referrals, etc. Challenge yourself to improve the numbers. Set short-term (daily, weekly) personal and business goals to give each day a focus and take pleasure in reaching them. Reward yourself when you reach a personal milestone. Compete against yourself, not others.

Bold New (Sales) World

The last few years have given birth to a number of changes: (1) There are a lot fewer career salespeople plying the trade. (2) There are a lot more wannabe salespeople around. (3) Prospects are more tight-fisted than ever. (4) You’re working harder than ever before just to keep up.

Fewer Career Salespeople

In earlier times, selling was much easier than it is today. All some salespeople had to do was stand in front of a prospect with a hand out and the prospect would put some money in it. Even professional career salespeople got lazy. Today, prospects want much more than an open hand. They want and demand professionalism, service, and value more than ever before. As times got tough, many career salespeople couldn’t make the transition from order-taker to order-maker and have dropped out of the profession.

The best way to stay a career salesperson is to avoid complacency. Continue to develop your selling skills through courses and reading. Keep yourself mentally and physically fit through exercise. Choose your business friends with care. Find like-minded successful salespeople to associate with.

More Wannabe Salespeople

Companies are downsizing and thousands of people are looking for new ways to make a living. Many are finding their way into sales because it looks so easy and because employers don’t take the time and effort to hire smart. Some employers seem to think if a person can walk and talk, he can probably sell. All this does is clutter up the marketplace with a lot of amateurs who make things worse for the rest of us who are working our hearts out.

Those of us who have invested the time, effort, and money to learn the profession can still take pride knowing that we stand above the rest of the pack.

Tight-Fisted Prospects

Why should our prospects be any less tight-fisted with their money than we are with ours? It’s the same everywhere. People are being more cautious before spending their hard-earned dollars. Our prospects are no different than we are. We’re all looking for the biggest bang for our buck and that means value.

Even the most tight-fisted prospect will open his hand if you give him enough reasons to do so. Those reasons are called “benefits,” but too many salespeople still talk features and facts instead. How about you? Can you effectively answer the question, “Why should a prospect buy my product/service?”

Amidst the economic gloom is the undisputed fact that people are still spending. No one has cut the money supply. You simply have to give them enough reasons (benefits) to buy. There’s still lots of money floating around and it’s up to you to get your share of it which leads us to:

Working Harder

Those people who weren’t prepared to get off their duffs and put in the effort have fallen by the wayside. Sales never has been easy and it’s become even harder. The market is tougher, the prospects more demanding, and the competition intense. And yes, we all have to work harder, with less, to accomplish more, but that’s what being a career salesperson has always been about.

Some of this work needs to be done after working hours. Catching up on your reading or doing expense and call reports should all be done outside prime selling time. Sales never was, and will never be, a nine-to-five job. At least not for those who want to make a career of it.

The Future

The future is for those who make it happen. Selling has changed but there will always be a need for good salespeople. And the successful ones will have to be better organized, more knowledgeable, and even more determined than ever.

So, don’t let yourself run out of gas because, more than ever before, you have to be prepared to go the extra mile and you can’t do that if you’re running on empty.