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Paul Reilly on mental strength and selling through tough times

Episode: 78

Looking for concrete steps to ease the effects of languishing and regain mental fortitude? Jason and Paul Reilly, speaker, trainer, author, and host of the The Q and A Sales Podcast break down six exercises anyone can implement to improve mental resilience, regardless of company role, industry, or location.

Whether you’re in the C-suite or the cold-call trenches, there’s no question that the challenges brought about by this pandemic are extensive–and exhaustive. It seems counterintuitive then that so many sales teams are crushing their goals from a commission standpoint. But take a closer look.

Professional performance doesn’t always reflect what’s happening personally, as Paul found out when he began conducting research for his latest book Selling Through Tough Times. While swings in success are inevitable over the course of a career, he points out that for the large cohort of salespeople who got into sales after the Great Recession, these last 18 months have hit a bit differently. So many salespeople right now are facing tough times for the very first time and they have not built that foundation of mental resilience.

Even those of us who’ve weathered our share of economic storms before 2020 could use an assist right now. Paul developed his plan to appeal to everyone, no matter their experience. I call it the Daily Mental Flex. It’s a collection of six exercises that will help you build resilience and help you build that mental strength that we need.

His 30-day Tough-Timer Challenge supports positive mental programming, positive environmental programming, and tough-timer characteristics. So, what’s a tough-timer? A tough-timer is kind of like an archetype. It’s the individual who is able to thrive through challenging times.

The nearly 40 years worth of experience Paul’s company has had training salespeople provided more than enough tough-timer data. He distilled that information into a simple yet effective plan featuring daily exercises (like reps at a gym) for each of the following entries:

  • Gratitude
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Discipline
  • Pruning and Planting
  • Positive Reframing
  • Reducing Friction

While his challenge is primarily inward-focused, Paul adds that one of the most critical components of resilience-building is empathy.

By committing to 30-days of self-awareness, we acknowledge those areas where we need assistance and, in return, are better able to recognize the same in our family members, co-workers, or employees. Being able to share what you’re comfortable sharing is a nice way to let [the team] know, hey, it’s okay to not be okay, he says. In times like these, that acknowledgement goes a long way in strengthening our personal and professional foundations.

Like what you hear? Check out Paul’s extensive resources:

Selling Through Tough Times

30-day Tough-Timer Challenge

The Q and A Sales Podcast


The most important conversation we have every day is not the conversation with our customers. [It’s] the conversation we have with ourselves, what we say in between our two ears.”

If you want to predict a salesperson’s success, just listen to their thoughts. And, if you’re a salesperson trying to figure out how successful you’re going to be, just listen to your thoughts.

One thing we’ve noticed about tough-timers, they are insatiable when it comes to wanting to improve and get better.

Gratitude provides perspective.

The sales team that is complaining is not the one you need to address. It’s the sales team that’s not complaining, the salesperson who’s not willing to share constructive feedback.






Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.

This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.

Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.

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