How to Handle High-​Pressure Sales Situations

BY Tim Londergan
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Admittedly, I have surrendered negotiations much too quickly in high-​pressure sales situations. The case I'm referring to involved media ad sales, and it was a recurring dilemma. First, the ad buyer, who represented several large clients, would propose huge annual contracts. Second, she would insist on negotiating these deals on Christmas Eve! It became apparent that this buyer would use this clever device with many of her media reps. In fact, it became known that she would hold complex, negotiable deals until the day before a rep’s vacation to leverage her advantage. Immediately, I stopped sharing my personal schedule with this person. This policy relieved the stress of those intense sessions. But how do we relieve our minds when day-​to-​day sales pressures take on a life of their own?

Train your mind for high-​pressure sales situations

Performance anxiety in sales is a real thing. Unfortunately, mental health is not widely or openly discussed in the sales sector. But it should be. Fear of rejection, missing quota, and losing large sustaining customers are recurring rational fears among salespeople in all industries. Therefore, it may help to take a moment to review the advice of performance psychologist and Olympic coach, Dr. Don Greene. In an article for Inc​.com, author Betsy Mikel highlights Dr. Greene’s advice to offset the urge to control by losing control. As an example, Greene suggests vigorous physical activity to boost your heart rate prior to a performance. Use this momentum to power through a mentally challenging situation. Additionally, he advocates welcoming and harnessing adrenaline and redirecting it to fuel your performance. In conclusion, he recommends striving for excellence in place of perfection.

When anxiety takes over

Sometimes the high-​pressure sales situations are just too overwhelming. Make no mistake, the perception of a threat to our career, our livelihood, and our financial security become very real. Consequently, emotions will take over and our body will react in a fight-​or-​flight mode. If not addressed, these primitive emotions result in a panic attack. Jeff Riseley, founder of the Sales Health Alliance writes extensively about Anxiety in Sales and Panic Attacks. In the article, Riseley tackles the shame and embarrassment of panic attacks in sales and offers tips to overcome. He states that panic attacks can be ridden like a wave once identified. Likewise, the author provides simple tricks to ground yourself and remain in the present.

  • Mindfulness
  • Breathing exercises
  • Purposeful distractions
  • Journaling

Be proactive to relieve the pressure

Unfortunately, high-​pressure sales situations often occur with our most lucrative customers. Likewise, these prized prospects are probably working with our primary competitors. Ironically, these clients often symbolize the holy grail of our existence; if not in reality, then in our minds. Anthony Iannarino can help us to win over these valuable target customers. Iannarino recently authored “Stop Giving Up on Hard-​to-​Win Prospective Clients” for thesalesblog​.com. In the article, Iannarino suggests building long-​term and short-​term pipelines. First, this strategy forces you to segregate your book of business into two sets of prospects: those more easily won and the more lucrative “dream clients.” Second, you can focus your efforts on short-​term rewards and long-​term goals.

Consistent persistence will win over tough customers

Iannarino presents a challenge to sales professionals with his “Year Zero” approach. Using this timeline tool, he diffuses high-​pressure sales situations by playing the long game. He suggests you can reduce pressure over time by capturing customer mindshare in a methodical, consistent manner. Importantly, nurturing the relationship with the client is the key to gaining their trust and creating opportunities. In retrospect, it is not clear how this strategy would have helped my Christmas Eve negotiations. However, I'd likely have been better served using logic and data than emotion and frustration.

Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash