A career in sales can be exciting and rewarding. The admin work required? It sucks. CRMs. Expenses. Sales reports. They take away your selling time with little payback. Other tasks, like customer follow-through, are essential to a sales person’s success. Doing them requires discipline and neglecting them GETS you disciplined.
Do you struggle with any of the following problems?
1. Difficulty completing boring-yet-important tasks, like entering calls
2. Habitually turning sales reports in late
3. Not fulfilling commitments to customers-even the important ones
4. Forgetting to bring something crucial to a sales call
5. Doing twice the work of your teammates because of any of the above problems
6. Feeling as if you’re the only rep on the team with these issues
Are these symptoms of a careless sales rep? A manager may think so. Heck, you may agree. To a mental health professional, these are possible symptoms of ADD or ADHD. (Yes, they are two different disorders. For simplicity’s sake I’ll stick to ADHD).
As you know, in sales, effort does not always equal output. Have you ever worked your tail off on a sale only to appear lazy or disorganized? Therein lies the problem. Administrative difficulties can push you away from an otherwise likeable job. At the same time, they distract management from your true effectiveness as a salesperson.
Here are 6 steps to addressing and feeling better about those little problems that add up:
1. Get tested for ADHD/ADD. See a psychiatrist or other physician AND talk a counselor. Why both? One focuses on things from a medical perspective and the other works on how you think. Accept that ADHD is a real affliction. Although you won’t be forced to take medicine, most are proven effective and safe. Do you have a child or other family member that’s been diagnosed? It runs in families. To better understand the symptoms of ADHD and how it’s diagnosed click here.*
2. Get rational about the World. After a mistake, you need to pick yourself up, not beat yourself up. Yes, forgetting your power cord at home, can make you want to throw your company laptop out the window. Stop and think. What can you change about what happened in the past? Anger and self-torture only take MORE time away from doing a better job in the future. And, a supportive, non-manipulative manager won’t be impressed with your self-loathing. You control only your own actions and feelings, not those of others. To take responsibility and stop upsetting yourself, check out, “How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything”, by Albert Ellis.
3. Get rational about customers. Yes, you play an important role in the sales process, but, you’re not the main character. Your clients are thinking, breathing, human beings that act on their own freewill. You don’t truly control their decision-making. After losing a sale, you’ll always be able to find fault in your actions. Stop telling yourself a flawless sales presentation would’ve guaranteed success. You’ve probably made some of the same mistakes with the clients you’ve won. ADHD is not an excuse, but a fact of life. Focus on getting better, not on being perfect.
4. Get organized. This is step 4 for a reason. If you lack a rational view of yourself and your customers, no to-do list will save you. Before you rush out to buy the next killer new app or Day Planner, change your work habits. In, “The Power of Habit”, author Charles Duhigg explains how you can replace bad habits with good. When its time to add technology (digital or paper), check out “Taking Control ADHD” podcast for tips on the latest tech and coping strategies. Always keep in mind, if you have ADHD, you WILL make mistakes again, Being organized will help you reduce, not eliminate, them.
5. Play to your strengths. Many people with ADHD are highly creative. Despite forgetting to put your calls in, you may be the best on your team at answering objections or crafting new solutions. Use that strength and don’t be shy about having it. This also means reconsidering the type of product you sell and company you work for. Companies that offer more autonomy to sales people tend to require less reporting.
6. Measure yourself differently. Accept that you may never be the best at the mundane parts of your job. Nothing about ADHD is a death sentence. Making mistakes and continuing to move forward separates those who improve and those who stagnate. “You’re Never Going to Be “Caught Up” at Work. Stop Feeling Guilty About It.”, is the title of a recent Harvard Business Article by Art Markman.
Ultimately, all of us work for ourselves. So, be a good boss! When you support yourself win or lose, you find the strength to accomplish more.