The World Has Changed. What is a Sales Professional To Do Now?

What Do We Do Now? After the events of September 11th, one of the biggest challenges people are faced with is honoring others’ feelings while moving forward. Here’s some advice on how to face that challenge with your customers — and within yourself.

Everything changed September 11. For most of us, our lives are not yet back to normal and may not be for a long time. We are all confronted with new challenges. One is finding the balance point between honoring people’s feelings and moving forward. It is not an easy task. Everyone is responding to the new challenges differently. So, as a sales professional, what do you do now?

Recognize the Positives
Horrible things have happened. But these horrible things are resulting in some very positive things. People are reaching out to one another unlike before. They are connecting in ways that are new or at least uncommon. Many have been calling friends and colleagues for no other reason than to just say “Hello.” Conversations have taken on a different tone. These are all definitely positive.

Another positive we have all experienced is a reassessment of our priorities. We all seem to be asking ourselves, “What’s important?” I have not talked to anybody since the day of the attacks who is not reassessing their priorities. Some things that seemed so important only recently have now drifted much lower on our lists.

Keep Visible
Keep in touch with people. Your conversations with customers will likely be different for a while and that’s okay, but stay visible. People want to hear from people they know and trust.

Deal with the Fear
Accept that many people are experiencing significant fear. You may be. There is nothing wrong with being frightened. Even though I am a professional skydiver with over 1,700 skydives, I am often quite frightened before a challenging exhibition jump.

The important step in responding effectively to fear is to accept it. This is critical. Accepting that the fear is present and profound will take much of the power away from it.

I know this works from personal experience in successfully pursuing goals like a skydiving World Record. And NASA has verified this method of fear management through controlled studies of astronauts.

If you find you are significantly distracted and having continuing difficulty concentrating as a result of the recent terrorist attacks or the prospects of a war, you may want to seek assistance. There is no shame in taking care of yourself. The only shame is in profoundly hampering your performance by not seeking it.

You would not expect your car to function well after a major accident. Similarly, after all the trauma you have been subjected to recently, you may need to go in for some service.

Focus on Your Goals
And finally, gradually, and at your own pace, bring your goals for the year back into focus. By re-focusing and once again moving towards your personal and proffessional goals, you will put yourself back on track. And there is another benefit. You will be completely undermining the goals of those who would love nothing more than for us to lose touch with our greatness – as individuals and as a country.

© Jim McCormick 2001

Jim McCormick is a leading authority on risk and fear. He draws on his experiences as a World Record and North Pole skydiver to help people effectively deal with fear and take the critical risks that lead to improved personal and organizational performance. More information is available at

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