How do you deal with disappointment, either in yourself or in your sales team?

Because, sure as eggs is eggs, disappointment will come – especially in a sales role.

And the trouble with disappointment is that it’s deflating – think about it, when you are angry, you feel motivated to take action, to shout, to get even.

But disappointment?

It makes you feel flat, sad.


Well, it is to do with anticipating something (which gives us a dopamine high) then, when those expectations are not met, we lose all that dopamine and feel low.

So here are some suggestions.

None of these are silver bullets, (after all disappointment can come in many shapes and sizes), but they are practical and will help.

1. Talk about it (yes I know that sounds over-simplistic touchy-feely, but there is a reason – it works!). So who can you confide in? If there is no one – write it in a journal. If you don’t have an outlet, then you may encounter something called ’emotional suppression’ which might make things worse in the future.

If you are managing someone who has experienced a disappointment, see if you can get them to open up to you.

2. Get some perspective. This is where talking to other people can help – they have a different perspective to you. Also, a good friend might point out all the ways you are privileged compared to others – a reminder of what it’s like to walk in other people’s shoes can be a great way to understand that things are not as bad as they seem.

3. Revisit your own values and motivations. The trouble with disappointment is that we can start to doubt ourselves and it erodes our sense of who we are. So do some good deeds, help some other people and keep focussed on the bigger picture.

As a manager, this can mean sharing with your team member what their good qualities are and why you value them in your team.

4. Practice self-acceptance – accept and acknowledge the current situation. Drill down on it, then, like breathing, let it all out. Remember to remind yourself of all your positive qualities.

5. Don’t let it fester – you might feel under pressure to ‘bounce back’ immediately after a disappointment, but that might not be realistic. You need to work through it, using some of the suggestions above, otherwise it won’t have been resolved properly.

Sometimes that means you should take a few minutes and walk round the block or take a coffee break. Sometimes, it might mean you have a detailed debrief with colleagues, but, once that stage is concluded, begin again.

If you don’t, disappointment could deteriorate into anxiety, negative thinking and resentment – which, let’s face it, have never helped anyone sell anything.

It is so much better to have a game plan for handling feelings of disappointment, than to just hope they never come, because they certainly will in this strange and wonderful world of sales.

What is your experience of handling disappointment?

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