20 June 2023 |

Perception Is Everything

By Alex Alleyne

Life, both personal and professional, consists of a series of neutral events. Nothing that occurs to us is inherently good or bad in its nature, it is the perception we have of the situation that dictates whether we see it positively, negatively or are indifferent to it.

For example, if a member of your team loses the biggest deal of the quarter, you have 2 choices:

A: Become angry and frustrated at the AE whilst demanding that they never let this happen again.

B: Accept the loss, request a deal review to unpack where we could have been more effective, then create a development plan around those gaps.

The situation itself is exactly the same, but the interpretation of what has happened and our options looking forward are dictated by our perception of what has occurred.

Path A or Path B?

These in-the-moment decisions are some of the most important you can make. In the scenario above, path A only feeds into stress, anguish and disappointment whilst route B fosters learning, growth and development.

Whenever you find yourself in a situation that may trigger a stressful reaction, stop, pause and take a moment to reflect on what has actually occurred.

  • Is this a life or death situation?
  • What is within my control?
  • What can be learned from this?

By asking yourself these 3 questions, on most occasions you will find you have likely blown the matter out of proportion and can ultimately see value and upside from what originally seemed like a dire situation.

Pressure Builds Character

Once you are able to rework your perception, you become more accepting of the fact that life will always throw tests your way, especially as a sales leader.

We have chosen a career path where a 50% win rate is exceptional, meaning at best, you will be losing half of the deals you generate.

On that basis, it is critical to prime your mind around the fact that you will need to get comfortable in the face of ever growing targets and expectations. 

There is no way around it and there is no way to escape it. Your choice is to either lean in, accept your reality, face it and grow. Instead, you can allow perceived pressure to win and fold when times get tough.

You are reading this newsletter because you are cut from a stronger cloth. Accept that the toughest tests are given to the most capable people.

When you are missing quota and your back is against the wall, see that as the very moment for you to rise to the mantle.

Distill down the challenge in front of you:

  • Do you need more pipeline?
  • Are you losing your deals at Negotiation stage?
  • Do you need to refresh your team’s talent?

Avoid allowing challenges to appear as big and mighty. Break down, distill them into their constituent parts and then tackle each aspect one at a time.

Set Expectations

One of the biggest gaps sales leaders’ have is that they don’t set appropriate expectations with their management and team alike.

By not doing so, it raises the potential feeling of pressure because you have failed to communicate your reality.

Whether you are behind your number, ahead of it or otherwise, ensure that you keep the business and your team updated with the current state. Don’t simply deliver updates on where you are, but communicate your plan  looking forward, and any associated risks to achieving it.

By covering this, you set appropriate expectations that help to unify others around your worldview. When others understand the world through your lens, it makes them more resilient under pressure — because you have effectively communicated what is in their control and gained buy-in for the path ahead.

Don’t let the company agenda dictate your approach, have a clear vision, communicate it, secure buy-in and continue to be open about progress.

Next Week: Effective Decision Making

One of the most critical aspects of being a sales leader is your ability to make notable decisions, quickly. This consists of distilling down data and combining it with your wisdom and instinct.

Next week we will cover how you can go about making effective decisions, whilst under perceived pressure or otherwise.