Depending on your sales role, the act of “closing a sale” can be few and far between. Especially if you are working in enterprise sales. Sometimes it can take months or years of consistent work, effort and overcoming countless setbacks to close one deal.
Then finally it happens. That verbal “yes” you heard months ago finally becomes official when that contract you sent weeks ago comes back signed.
At first you don’t believe it. You thought you were being “ghosted” and about to give up. Your manager was pressuring you to change the opportunity in your pipeline to “not interested”.
“This can’t be real… They ACTUALLY closed?”
After triple checking the email and details of the contract for mistakes – it starts to happen. The rush you get after closing a sale that everyone in sales is chasing. Every muscle in your body starts to feel relaxed and yet energized at the same time. Your head has a subtle warm feeling and a wave of happiness, confidence, joy and euphoria washes over you.
You feel invincible.
All you want to do is share this feeling and energy with your manager and the colleagues close to you. You want to tell them the good news and give others on your sales team hope that their next sale could be right around the corner.
But then something unexpected happens. All of a sudden you’re hit with a wave of self-doubt and negative self-talk. Your inner voice starts to say things like:
“That deal should never have closed – You just got lucky.”
“You don’t deserve to be happy.”
“You won’t be able to do that again.”
Like rain clouds covering a bright sunny day, the rush and that warm feeling of euphoria leaves your body. Before you can capitalize on these positive emotions, you find yourself picking up the phone scared and uncertain.
“How am I ever going to do that again?”
Closing a Sale, Joy & Upper Limit Happiness
The scenario described above will resonate with almost everyone in sales. However, even if you’re not working in sales you know what it feels like to “close a sale”. It’s the same feeling you get when you first fall in love, land your dream job or witness the birth of your child.
In these moments you’re totally consumed by the joy and happiness of the events taking place. Hitting this peak is often followed by a deep valley. Minutes, days or weeks later we are consumed by a wave of fear, anxiety and self-doubt.
This rapid transition from happiness to anxiety occurs when we hit our upper limit of happiness.
We often connect anxiety to situations, emotions or events that are perceived as negative or make us uncomfortable. When we encounter these threatening situations, we start to feel anxious because our Ego is trying to protect us from something it perceives as “dangerous”.
Sometimes these are real threats like encountering a bear on a hike, but usually they are “perceived threats”; like calling a CEO who we think might yell at us. As a result we let anxiety take over and we avoid the emotional discomfort tied to these situations. This stunts our growth and keeps us trapped inside our comfort zone.
But threating situations and upper limit happiness events share something in common. They make us feel extremely vulnerable because both types of situations create high levels of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.
Vulnerability & Fear of Loss
When you close a big sale – there is uncertainty about something unexpected or unforeseen going wrong last minute (ex: COVID). There is reputational risk that your manager and team now expect more from you. You may fear being unable to repeat your process. You have also shown others how confident and happy you can be; What will they think when they see you scared and anxious now?
When we experience upper limit happiness we feel fragile because now we have something to lose.
When that deal closes, we have financial stability and job security that make us feel safe. We’re afraid that if we enjoy the good things and celebrate these achievements too much – we’ll be blindsided by disaster later. Deal scarcity and fear of not knowing when the next sale is going to close pushes our Ego into self-protection mode.
The same defense system that guards and traps us in our comfort zone, is the same system that doesn’t like when we get too happy. It fears vulnerability and exposing your true self to others. It automatically changes our internal self-talk and starts feeding us lies to try and scare us.
“You just got lucky.”
“You don’t deserve that deal.”
“There are going to be major problems with that client.”
When we believe these lies, we come crashing down to earth. Our Ego cuts short the euphoric experience we earned all in an effort to help you avoid future loss and maintain control.
But our Ego has it wrong. We can’t control the future and we can’t control if we’re blindsided by a negative outcome down the road. We can only control what is happening right now in the present and whether we have the courage to embrace the vulnerability of extreme joy.
Leaning Into The Joy Of Closing A Sale
Below is a process you can follow to help you lean into the vulnerability of upper limit happiness so you can actually enjoy closing a sale in the future. Following this process will also give your Mental Health a much needed boost during tough times on the sales floor.
Step One – Label It
When your Ego gets scared, it loves to make you anxious by quietly manipulating your internal talk track when it isn’t being watched. The most important step in the process is pulling your Ego out of the shadows and make it the focus of your attention.
Once you become aware of your inner voice becoming more negative – pause, label it and say outload:
“The Guardian inside my head is making me anxious and stopping me from enjoying this moment. I worked hard for this experience and the joy tied to it – I’m not going to let it get cut short.”
Thank your little guardian Ego for trying to protect you from future events that may or may not happen. Remember you can only control things in the present, which means your willingness to embrace the risk and vulnerability tied to experiencing joy.
Step Two – Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is like a muscle and the more you practice it – the stronger your gratitude muscle gets.
Our brains have a natural negativity bias, which means our attention is more likely to focus on negative thoughts and experiences over positive ones. This is because our negativity bias has acted as an important survival function for our ancestors during harsher environments.
For example, let’s say thousands of years ago we find a piece of fruit on the ground – a positive experience. As we lean down to pick the fruit, all of a sudden we see a spear being thrown at us – a negative experience.
Our brain will naturally prioritize avoiding the spear first and then picking the fruit second because this offers our best chances of survival. Replicate this process millions of times, across the entire human species and we develop an evolutionary trait of negativity bias.
Practicing gratitude on a regular basis helps combat this negativity bias by carving out time every day to reflect on positive experiences. Research shows gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions and creates space for positive emotions to be embraced. Overtime this helps strengthen neural pathways in our brain towards a more grateful nature as our gratitude muscle gets stronger.
During moments of upper limit happiness, our negativity bias wants us to lean into the fear and uncertainty that we may lose something in the future. Instead, be grateful that in this moment you have achieved something worth losing and sit with how amazing this feels.
Practicing gratitude gives us permission to feel joyful.
Whether its closing a sale, a new child or finally receiving your dream job offer – these are not times to be scared. It’s a time reflect on what you achieved and lean into the vulnerability that comes with experiencing pure joy.
Practice Makes Closing A Sales Feel Even Better
If practicing gratitude is new to you, I’ve created a free sales gratitude journal you can download below. It will help you assess how strong your gratitude muscle is and provide a framework to strengthen it over the next two weeks.
One common mistake some people while practicing gratitude is they get in the habit of simply making a list of positive experiences that happen each day.
The key to making this practice effective is to really FEEL the emotions tied to positive experiences and sit with them. This will help you get comfortable with feeling joy and happiness so next time a deal closes it feels even better and lasts longer.
Finally, if you’re interested in how gratitude helps build resilience in sales, this post will provide greater insight into how they work together.
About The Author
Jeff Riseley is currently the Founder of the Sales Health Alliance and Mental Health Advocate. With over a decade of sales experience – Jeff understands the importance of Mental Health in achieving peak sales performance.
Jeff combines his sales (Sales Knowledge Institute) and Mental Health expertise to improve sales performance through a mix of sales mentorship and mental health best practices. His strategies have helped sales teams improve their sales process, while helping them become more motivated, resilient and better equipped to tackle stressful events within sales.
He is currently delivering these strategies through on-site workshops, coaching and speaking engagements. To explore working with Jeff contact him at [email protected]