Is "Pessimism Porn" Ruining Your Sales?

Last Updated Apr 2, 2009 3:44 PM EDT

There's a new concept bouncing around called "pessimism porn" -- the endless news reports about how bad everything is about the economy. That's nice for the people selling ads for those news reports, but for the rest of us, it can be pretty demotivating. If you listen to too much of this negative droning, it becomes hard to get yourself energized and positive about making sales. The antidote is to look at things as they are, understand what it means to your customers, then focus on learning ideas and skills that can help you sell.


Thirty years ago, news programs primarily provided people with information intended to help them understand the issues of the day. Today, however, most news broadcasts consist of "infotainment" specifically-crafted to support commercial messages.

The remainder of today's news programming consists of "if it bleeds it leads" stories followed by commercials offering some form of security or comfort. The idea is to amp up your fear/anger/frustration and then provide you an action, like buying "comfort food," which promises to relieve the pressure.

This constant flow of negative imagery and commentary -- "pessimism porn" as it were -- can not only destroy a positive attitude, it can actively create a negative attitude about life and the world. If you want to maintain a positive mood, you need to reduce your exposure to news programming.

Does this mean you don't need to know about economic trends that might influence the business environment. Of course not. By all means find out what's going on the world, but don't make it an area of focus. Find out what's being reported and fold it into your bag of tricks.

That way, if a customer wants to talk about the news, you'll know what's going on. (Remember: plenty of your customers are probably addicted to "pessimism porn".) You may even be able to spin the news in a way that helps move the sale forward.

But once you've scanned the big stories, put the "pessimism porn" aside. Then feed your mind with ideas and concepts that will make you more successful.

Jeff Keller, author of the bestselling book Attitude is Everything suggests reading an inspirational book right after you wake up and that you spend the bulk of your commute time listening to motivational tapes rather than the news. Good ideas, both.

He points out that it's easier to achieve and maintain a positive attitude if you have a "library" of useful and positive thoughts in your head that you can draw upon them if the day doesn't go as planned. Starting each day reading something that teaches you something useful ensures that you have such a "library" to draw upon.

The idea is to put as much of your mental energy as possible into being successful and as little as possible into things that make you sad, upset or worried.

By the way, one of the main reasons that I've refocused this blog (see: Stop Screwing Around and Get Serious) is that I have been guilty of focusing too much on things like the Madoff scandal and the AIG bonuses.

But I've had a change of heart. I'm now trying to make sure that every Sales Machine blog post has a "take-away" that you can use.

That's why I'm recommending, once again, that you click on the link on the box below and get yourself set up to receive daily email updates. That way you'll be getting regular doses of the best information and techniques that I can find.