The other day I was at a restaurant talking to a prospective client over lunch. He was telling me about all the challenges his sales organization had been facing. Setting up appointments with new prospects had become a nightmare. Decisions had been taking longer and longer to make.

Competition was everywhere and had been undercutting the company’s proposals. His reps were frustrated and discouraged. “If only they could all be like Paula,” he said, shaking his head in frustration. “I just wish I could clone her.”

I laughed, but my curiosity was piqued. “Tell me more,” I said. Apparently, Paula was having a really good year, despite everything else that was going on. She had cracked a few big accounts that she’d targeted at the beginning of the year.

Despite losing some business to competitors, she’d won more than her share — all without any major discounting. Even the numerous obstacles that seemed to totally derail the other sales reps had set her back only temporarily.

“Let me guess,” I interrupted. “Those setbacks seemed to energize her, right?” My prospect, who was about to take a bite of fettuccine, set down his fork. Looking at me quizzically, he said, almost in a whisper, “How did you know? That’s exactly what happened.”

I couldn’t keep the twinkle out of my eyes. I leaned forward and whispered back to him. “Paula kisses the frogs. My prospect burst out laughing. It certainly wasn’t the answer he expected, but it was the truth.

Over the years I’ve met other Paulas. What differentiates them from other sellers is their approach to the setbacks (the frogs) they invariably encounter in selling.

When faced with tough times, frog-kissers such as Paula reframe those obstacles as personal challenges and persevere until they overcome them. Rather than getting discouraged or blaming others, they ask:

  • How can I tackle this new situation?
  • What other options can I try?
  • What can I learn by “kissing this frog”?

With their creative energies ignited, new options and alternatives emerge. Limitations become possibilities. They experiment with different approaches and find that they grow in the process. As a result, frog-kissers are often able to transform their fumbles into triumphs.

So here’s my challenge to you. In the next month, chances are you’ll run into a few sales problems (disinterested prospects, angry customers, delayed decisions, cut-throat competitors). But this time, instead of getting upset, go kiss that frog and see if you can’t turn him into a prince.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.