From the July 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

Sales breakthroughs have a lot to do with your ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. In many situations, success comes from understanding how to turn present discomfort into future gain. Many of the actions that aren't enjoyable now--such as making cold calls or working after hours when you feel like stopping but know you need to finish--are necessary to add value to each new step you take. Here are some thoughts to keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

  • Hard work now will pay off later. All the sales you've ever made did not happen overnight. They were likely accounts you worked on for long periods of time. Everything you have today was brought forth by all your past efforts. Think about what you've accomplished by doing the things you didn't want to do.
  • Learn from every experience. Understand and appreciate that the upside of difficulty is that there will always be new opportunities for learning and improving your skills.
  • Focus on the positives. Find something unique about each contact you encounter during the day to make something you might not enjoy enjoyable. Once I was making phone calls to new companies shortly after a snowstorm, and I found it to be a great time to make calls. You'd be surprised at how many people were in pleasant moods. On one call, I was speaking with the assistant to the vice president of sales, and she said she loved the sight of the snow outside her window. She was in a great mood and was very helpful. Following the call, I sent her a nice handwritten note about our brief talk and thanked her for her time. This won't close a sale, but it builds your chances of standing out in a positive way as you move forward with your next steps.
  • Pick the difficult action over the easy one. Doing so will make you grow stronger as a person, not just as a salesperson. Call on the bigger accounts, start at the top and sell your way down and across departments, and make the calls after you're ready to go home. In the long run, this is what will separate you from the average performer.
  • I'd like to share a technique I use as a metaphor for both sales and life. A good friend of mine told me that he takes cold showers every day and rarely gets sick. Right after a hot shower, he turns off all the hot water and lets the shower run down his spine and all his joints. Does it feel uncomfortable at first? Yes. Does it shock your body? Yes, but then something strange happens. After a few weeks, your body becomes warm after a few seconds of the pain. Eventually, you begin to look forward to it. What was once uncomfortable is now comfortable. There's no difference between this and making uncomfortable calls to new people or making a presentation to a large group. In the beginning, it's difficult and uncomfortable, but later it becomes easier and produces rewarding results. I've been taking cold showers for more than four years now and have not gotten sick since.

Remember this the next time you're uncomfortable working through the details of your sales cycle--and take comfort in being uncomfortable.