You just lost a deal, and let me guess: You’re not feeling too great.
Yes, you know losing deals is an inevitable part of sales, and yes, you also know the outcome often has to do with factors beyond your control.
But still, you’re a competitive person — and competitive people just plain hate losing.
Here’s where these nine TED talks come in. In addition to instantly making you feel better, they’ll also give you some ideas on how to use failure to your advantage. That’s what we call a win-win.
9 TED Talks to Lift Your Spirits During a Sales Slump
1) “The key to success? Grit” by Angela Lee Duckworth
Many people think your IQ or innate talents predict how well you’ll do in life. However, after studying thousands of people, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found the true predictor of success is grit.
What’s grit? Good question. In this talk, Duckworth explains what this characteristic looks like, plus how you can get, um, grittier. Your motivation levels will skyrocket in just six minutes.
2) “A kinder, gentler philosophy of success” by Alain de Botton
A single failure can make you second-guess everything. Lose one opportunity, and suddenly you’re wondering whether you’re a good salesperson, if your product works, and perhaps even why you’re doing this at all.
Rather than letting your self-doubt snowball, watch this speech. Famous writer and philosopher Alain de Botton puts success and failure into perspective, arguing that we need to focus on what we do well rather than how we fall short. It’s the perfect reality check when you’re feeling unsure of yourself.
3) “The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure” by Astro Teller
After a major deal falls through at the finish line, it’s tempting to play it safe for a while. But although going after small and easy deals means you probably won’t hear another late-stage “no,” it also means you won’t land any of those reach customers that’ll shoot your name up on the leaderboard.
When you’re in safe mode, watch this talk by Astro Teller. As head of X, Google’s (now Alphabet’s) experimental “moonshot factory,” he oversees a lot of crazy, bold projects — and unsurprisingly, a lot of them end up flopping. However, from his perspective, failure isn’t just normal and expected: It’s actually beneficial. By the end, you’ll feel charged up again.
4) “The power of believing that you can improve” by Carol Dweck
After losing a deal, it’s important to figure out what went wrong. However, asking the client for feedback and reflecting on what you could’ve done differently isn’t easy.
Get some incentive by watching Carol Dweck’s TED talk. Dweck, a world-renowned researcher on motivation, delves into the amazing effects of believing you can improve. She’ll give you the mental push you need to objectively review the lost deal — so when the next opportunity arrives, you’ll be a better, smarter salesperson.
5) “I got 99 problems … palsy is just one” by Maysoon Zayid
They say laughter is the best medicine. The only problem? Right after you’ve lost a sale, you’re probably not feeling too receptive to humor.
That’s why you should watch Maysoon Zayid’s speech. It’s one of the most hilarious TED talks (or talks, period) of all time — seriously, the jokes are so fast, furious, and side-splittingly funny that you won’t be able to resist cracking up.
Plus, Zayid’s story and attitude are truly inspiring. Even if you don’t let loose a single chuckle, you’ll feel buoyed by her relentless optimism.
6) “How frustration can make us more creative” by Tim Hartford
When everything’s working well, you’re probably not thinking about how to improve. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
On the flip side, when something does go wrong, your brain goes into overdrive. You’re suddenly hyper-focused on finding a solution — and when you do, you’ll probably achieve far more success than before you failed.
Tim Hartford shares some of the best examples of this phenomenon in his TED talk. It’s a fantastic one to launch before brainstorming ideas on how to improve your sales strategy and techniques.
7) “Embrace the near win” by Sarah Lewis
You were sure the prospect was going to sign — so when they pulled out at the last minute, you’re far more upset than when you heard “no” from the prospect that you knew was on the fence. But while these “close but not quite” experiences are frustrating, art critic Sarah Lewis argues you can’t achieve mastery without them. (She would know: Her job literally involves studying the masters.) Lewis says near wins keep us moving forward, while successes can sometimes satisfy us into complacency.
So if you want to be the Michelangelo of sales, well, maybe losing that deal will actually help you in the long run.
8) “The fringe benefits of failure” by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling may be one of the most richest and powerful women in the world; however, in 1994, after her “exceptionally short marriage had imploded,” and she’d become “jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain” Rowling says she was the biggest failure she knew.
Ouch. Yet in this TED talk, Rowling says hitting rock bottom was the best thing that ever happened to her. Not only did it motivate her to work harder than she’d ever worked before, surviving that period in her life has given her immeasurable confidence. Rowling’s words will definitely lift your spirits and inspire you to get back in the game.
9) “Your body language shapes who you are” by Amy Cuddy
I don’t know about you, but when I’m suffering a setback, my shoulders usually slump, my body sinks, and I curl into myself. I’ve always suspected this body language makes me feel worse; after all, it’s pretty hard to regain confidence when I’m physically projecting insecurity.
In this presentation, Amy Cuddy confirms my hypothesis. According to Cuddy, how we sit and stand doesn’t just impact how others see us — it also impacts how we see ourselves. Luckily, you can fake it till you make it. So watch the talk, then go do a power pose or two.
Now that you’ve watched a TED talk or two (or all nine — I’m not judging), hopefully your spirits have lifted. Let me know which talks you liked best in the comments.