Why is it that people with the most sales talent are often not the most successful? What gets in their way? How can some sales people with less talent overachieve and attain more sales success than their more talented colleagues? Are there specific mental skills that can lead anyone toward championship levels of sales performance? What separates the mindset of a champion from that of the also-rans?
This article addresses these key questions. Traditional sales training programs ignore the biggest obstacles to success. Instead, they focus on specific sales and closing techniques. But the biggest obstacles are not sales talent, motivation or knowledge of techniques. The biggest obstacles, like those overcome by champion athletes, are the internal, mental and emotional barriers that sales professionals face on a daily basis.
Below are three powerful components of the mindset of a champion. Put them into action today, and watch your sales performance skyrocket.
Take charge of your internal dialogue: Engage the linguistic nutrition of championship performance
Your self-talk is the foundation of your belief system, and your belief system determines your attitudes about your success in your sales career. Our inner thoughts either set us up for success or failure. So often, people unconsciously use self-limiting thoughts which prevent them from being successful. It’s a form of unintended self-sabotage. Examples of such self-talk phrases are: “The economy will make this a tough sell now” or “I’ll be lucky if I make half the sales I made last year.” These kinds of thoughts are like eating junk food once you decide that a healthy eating lifestyle is just too difficult to maintain. Your thoughts set you up for failure.
Your thoughts determine your beliefs and your beliefs develop your attitudes, which in turn determine your behaviors and actions. Therefore, negative, pessimistic thoughts will ultimately lead to procrastination and poor sales outcomes. Such thoughts actually convince your mind that you will fail.
Action plan 1: Keep a written journal of negative thoughts that enter your mind regarding your sales performance and identify the patterns. Then, use rational thinking to counterpunch each negative thought with a healthy, positive thought. Example: Change “This economy will drive my customers away ” to “I don’t have to be successful with every client. This is a numbers game. I am a sharp, creative person and I’ll find new markets/customers for my product, despite the economy. I’ll keep my eyes open for opportunities, which I really believe will present themselves.”
Unleash the power of your Mmnd: Plow through the mental road blocks to championship performance
Your subconscious mind takes orders without judging success or failure. You always have the choice in what you feed to your subconscious mind. Therefore, you must believe in yourself and in the value of the products you are selling. Eliminate “imposter fears,” which are the belief that you really are not good at what you do or your products are really not as valuable to potential customers as you propose they are.
So often, we focus on our failures and what we do not achieve. Instead, you need to focus on what you have achieved. You can actually program your mind to believe in your strengths and your ultimate success. Just as athletes focus on their strengths, you can focus on yours. Always remember that your product knowledge, your customer service skills and your sincere concern that the customer is satisfied and better off having purchased your products or services will overcome any deficiencies you see in yourself.
Action Plan 2: Practice presenting a positive attitude toward everyone you meet, not just prospective clients and customers. Constantly pat yourself on the back with positive self-talk, such as, “I provide a valuable service to my clients” and “I help people achieve their goals.”
Focus on good results you have achieved in your sales career. Learn from results you were not pleased with in the past and move on. Keep a success journal. Record times you were on a roll and situations where you were really proud of what you accomplished. Each day, put at least one item on your list. Review the list of successes regularly, especially when you are having a worrisome day.
Fill your mind with optimistic expectations: Unleash the most powerful mental tool that drives championship performance
Research conducted over 30 years with over one million participants has determined that there is a single, powerful predictor of sales achievement: optimistic expectations. Ability and motivation in ones’ sales career are not always enough to guarantee consistent results. Expectations of success or failure are self-fulfilling prophesies that often determine the outcomes, regardless of ability and motivation. The research also shows that people who develop learned optimism live longer and healthier lives, so there are major benefits that go far beyond your career.
The key here is to believe that you will succeed, despite the challenges, obstacles and setbacks that are inevitable in your sales career. Continue to believe you will succeed, even in the face of resistance, rejection and hostility. How you react to setbacks in your sales career is a crucial determinant of how successful you will ultimately be. Training yourself to look at setbacks as temporary challenges and minimizing those setbacks with the knowledge that you can find a solution and overcome them predicts ultimate success.
Action Plan 3: Developing optimistic expectations can be learned. Even if you are a chronic pessimist and your parents or spouse are pessimistic thinkers, you can absolutely learn ways to overcome the negative beliefs that underlie your pessimistic explanatory style. Revisit action plan 1 (above), because the best way to develop an optimistic explanatory style is by understanding your own negative thinking patterns and working to change them. You can also get cognitive training from a professional psychologist or by attending training seminars directed at teaching you learned optimism. Such training will do wonders for your career and in your life.