In the mid-nineties I was reloading spruce boards in Birmingham and selling them into Atlanta on truck. Life was good. I was making good margins and having a great time. One market started at $495. I bought five cars, shipped them to Birmingham, and sold twenty trucks to Atlanta. I did this four times. When I sold the last block at $695, I bought five more and went on vacation for a week. While on vacation a friend called and informed me that #2 spruce had fallen $100/MBF! The week after my return, the market dropped another $100 leaving me with 450/MBF of #2 spruce -$200/MBF in the grease!
Next came a call from my best customer. “You top-ticked me, James!” he said. “You sold me twenty trucks at the top of the market. It is going to take me six months to get out of these. I won’t be buying any of that reload wood from you any time soon!” I went home that night and asked my wife if she liked our house. “Yes, why, honey?” “Because we might not be living in it much longer!” was my answer.
The next week when I awoke at three in the morning because the sweat from my right leg was dripping on my left leg, I learned that I could be stressed out even while sleeping!
In this changing market many of my clients have begun to ask me how to battle stress. I am not a medical doctor, nor do I have a PHD in psychology. But I have spent thirty years in sales, thus for today I will grant myself an honorary degree in stress relief learned (and earned) in the unsettling, dark hours of many nights spent worrying about how I was going to make my number.
Here are some surefire stress relievers:
Exercise. Exercise will not only relieve stress, it will fortify us against stress. Exercise makes us feel stronger physically and mentally and gives us a feeling of accomplishment watching TV or drinking a martini never will.
Turn off the TV. Enough is enough. We don’t need to be that informed! The people on TV are selling also, and good news is no news, so turn it off!
Refuse to talk about bad markets, bad economies and the rest. These conversations add to our stress and do not lead to orders!
Control our minds. Just like turning a car left or right, we can choose what we think about. Many people want to victimize themselves by disagreeing with this. Don’t listen to them and don’t be one of them. When we begin to think negative (stressful) thoughts, let’s stop and think of other things. Thinking and planning for our future is a must to be successful, but thinking over and over about a problem whose time to be solved is passed or in the future is a self-inflicted wound we must fight against by controlling our own minds. (Mathew, 6:25-34. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”)
Do something we love. Exercise, garden, spend time with our families, something, for gosh sakes. Organize our day, if possible to do the thing we love right after work. Break away from the work-place mentality. We are more than worker bees. There is more to our lives than work, but we must take active steps to remind ourselves of this.
Spirituality. I am surprised by the number of people who profess their faith to me, who will not turn to their faith for stress relief. If we believe in a higher being and life after death, then this life is something between fool’s gold and a grand test for glorious eternity.
Sell our way out. Activity is good for humans (and salespeople!) and will produce more orders – relieving stress.
I believe we have two choices as human animals. A life of boredom or a life of excitement. With excitement comes stress. Joe Torre, major league baseball manager, calls it “vital tension”. As salespeople we have made the choice for excitement. We do not work in libraries. We have chosen vital tension. We must embrace our choice, fight stress the best we can and get out there and get some orders!