The Lonely Life of a Salesman

One of my first blog posts was around the idea of playing the long game in sales. This was based on making sure you have the tools and the intestinal fortitude to be able to withstand the long haul of a sales process that is actually valuable for you and for who you are working for at the time. This post dives into part of that process. The lonely part of that process.

The life of a traveling salesman or saleswoman seems glamorous and incredible to those that don’t have to live it. 5 star restaurants, the best hotels, first class seats, etc.! I always think about that meme of what my mom thinks I do, what my friends think I do, what my boss thinks I do,…, and what I actually do. Though funny and sometimes a bit of a stretch, it’s actually pretty accurate. No one really gets what we do out there on the road and in the late nights in our offices.

We are in an isolated, highly competitive world that is solely based on results and making your quota. Bosses and managers don’t really care how you get it done. If you don’t get it done, you get let go. Simple as that.

If you don’t know how to handle being alone and self-motivated, you won’t last too long in this career. If you don’t have a great support system at home, you probably won’t last long either. Having an understanding friend and family base, spouse, partner, etc. is crucial to success and something I’ve really learned as I’ve gone on in my career.

The most success that I’ve had in my career has come in times when I’ve had family and friends that get excited about what I’m doing and don’t put pressure on me to constantly be around or make me feel like I’m missing out. They understand that I have those feelings of wanting to be around and feeling like I’m missing out all the time, and they don’t need to put added pressure on me for things I can’t always control.

Here’s 3 keys to keeping yourself sane and not fall into the traps that can come with constantly being away.

  1. Keep a tight calendar. Make sure every tiny event you have going on in your life is in your calendar. This may seem tedious, but the worst thing that can happen to someone who doesn’t have much time is having something pop up in your schedule that you hadn’t planned on. That can throw off your whole life, not just your day.
  2. Respond to texts, calls and emails in a timely fashion. You want the people you love to forget about you quickly? Don’t respond to a quick text for more than 48 hours. They’ll start to think you don’t have time for them and they aren’t important to you any more. Seriously. It happens. I’ve lost friendships because I thought I was too busy to respond to quick dialogue. No matter how busy you are, you can respond to a “how’s your day” text, and it makes a big difference.
  3. Tell your boss when it’s been too much. If there’s one person who understands what you are going through, it’s probably your boss. If you need to go home and spend a few days with friends and family, more than likely they will probably give it to you. If they don’t, it might be time to move on. The need to re-charge and get back in touch with reality is so important, and the one person that can sign off on that is a great person to talk to.

So, to close this out, you really aren’t in this alone, and if you are, reach out to someone. Some of the highest rates of suicide in the world are salesman and entrepreneurs, and that comes from the feeling that you are truly alone and the pressure of these roles builds up to be too much to handle. You aren’t alone. Hundreds of thousands of millions of people are in the same boat as you, and the more we realize that we can help each other and not always be in competition with each other the better off we will all be.

Now go sell something!

1 thought on “The Lonely Life of a Salesman”

  1. I really appreciated this genuine article on the life of a traveling salesman. The content was spot on.

    The advice on blocking all activities on the calendar is critical. As a salesman time is your most precious resource and selling to executives requires respect of both their time and yours.

    An additional recommendation is to create weekly and monthly scheduled activities with friends and family. This keeps your loved ones top of mind and ensures balance.

    Good luck selling!


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