As a salesperson, you find that things don’t always go the way you want. Once, for instance, Bill Pirtle had a merchant throw a shoe at him when he mentioned what he did for a living. But even when things aren’t going smoothly, it’s important to keep working toward the next sale and the next one after that.

"It’s so easy to get discouraged," says Pirtle, a former salesman who now writes about the acquiring industry. "You have to try to stay motivated."

The life of a salesman is full of ups and downs. It’s easy to get into a rut, especially during a prolonged dry spell when it seems like all doors are slamming in your face. One way that salespeople say they stay enthused about the business—and make it through the hard times—is through a variety of self-motivating techniques.

For instance, some salespeople have a passion for reading books by well-known self-help gurus, such as Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins. Others get a burst of encouragement by watching motivational videos, CDs, DVDs or attending inspiring lectures. And still others say they rely on mentors, training seminars and everyday life experiences for career pick-me-ups.

"It’s all in convincing your mind that the no’s will help you get to yes’s," says Pirtle, who wrote the book "Navigating Through the Risks of Credit Card Processing" and also compiled a 44-chapter training book and study guide on the credit card processing industry.

To be sure, motivation is a very personal thing. What works for one salesperson doesn’t necessarily work for another. That’s why it’s so important for people in the trenches to figure out what works best for them and run with it, acquiring industry sales professionals say.

For instance, Drew Freeman, president and owner of Freeman Consulting Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says he finds certain books particularly inspiring. He tends to gravitate toward the works of Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino, author of "The Greatest Salesman in the World."

Over the course of his more than 30 years in the acquiring business, Freeman says he’s purchased a handful of copies of Mandino’s book to keep on his shelf and give away to family and co-workers. Freeman also keeps a file of pick-me-up resources that he turns to on an as-needed basis. If he sees an interesting article or some tool that he thinks will help other salespeople achieve success, he shares it at sales meetings.

The trick, he says, is to maintain a positive attitude. "Sometimes people make fun of motivation, but positive mental attitude in sales is everything," Freeman says. You’ve got to learn to look on the bright side. "Every failure increases your odds of success," he says.

Mike Fox, vice president of sales at Group ISO Merchant Services in Irvine, Calif., uses a combination of techniques to stay positive. One book he recommends is "Laugh Your Way to Health & Wealth" by Tom Hopkins and Ben Brooks. It’s a good laugh—not at all about sales—but it helps keep negative thoughts at bay.

Now that he’s in management, Fox says he also gets pumped up by helping newer salespeople succeed. He thrives on coming up with creative ways to help his team become better salespeople. For instance, he’ll put on a team movie night where the feature film has something to do with sales or teamwork. One of his favorites is "Remember the Titans," the Denzel Washington flick based on the true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

Fox does what he can to energize his team, and in the process, he feels more driven as well. "Seeing my hard work and dedication to them, their skills and education pay off, is more motivating for me than most anything I can think of," he says.

Marc Solomon, managing director of the U.S. division of BPC Banking Technologies in Alpharetta, Ga., tends to find inspiration in off-the-beaten-path places. While there are a lot of great motivational books on the market, he says he personally doesn’t find most of them all that helpful. "Some people have to seek out motivation. For others, it just comes to them in different forms when they least expect it," he says.

For example, Solomon says he was watching an episode of "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon not long ago where actor Will Smith was speaking about skydiving. Solomon says he found it encouraging that someone was trying to live his life without regrets. He says after the show he felt reinvigorated and felt the desire to push himself even harder in his work life.




An expanded version of this article is scheduled to appear in the April print edition of

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