Becoming an “inner winner” in your sales career
By Dr. Jack Singer
Psychologically Speaking, with Dr. Jack Singer, LLC
Greg is a rep for automobile parts companies. His responsibilities include generating new business by making “cold calls” to repair shops and following up on leads from potential customers who respond to inquiries that his companies receive. Greg has extensive knowledge of his products, and feels comfortable answering any questions about his products. In addition, he received training in the traditional practices of how to communicate with potential customers, how to get them to realize ways in which his company’s products will serve their needs and how to close a deal. But Greg is befuddled at his poor sales success rate. Are there other training techniques that can dramatically improve his performance? Is something missing that he can learn to do?
Yes! Traditional sales training techniques — like traditional athletic training techniques — ignore the biggest obstacle to success: Not recognizing and taking control of the "internal critic" that lingers within every sales professional and within every athlete. The internal critic is basically a habitual pattern of negative thoughts that (untrained) people usually allow to continue unabated. Using techniques that professional sport psychologists developed to help elite athletes overcome their obstacles to success works exactly the same wonders for sales professionals.
Here are a few tips that you can use in your sales career immediately:
Understand the warning signs of your internal critic at work. Your self-talk will either make you successful or will lead to disappointment. So often, people unconsciously use self-limiting thoughts which prevent them from becoming successful. Examples of negative, pessimistic self-talk phrases, are:
- “What if…”
- “I hope I don’t…”
- "I should have said…”
- “The client won’t like me if…”
- “I always have problems with…"
- ”I probably won’t be able to close this sale”
- “I can’t believe how stupid I was to say that…”
There is an old saying that “what you believe, you can achieve.” Internal self-talk leads to beliefs — either positive or negative — and beliefs lead to the body’s reactions. Sales people need to believe in their products and in their ability to show the customer why she/he needs to purchase that product today. Once sales people believe in themselves and their products, they are in a much better position to achieve sales success.
Give yourself positive affirmations each day. Positive affirmations are optimistic thoughts about your sales success goals, spoken out loud, as if that success is happening today. Since our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something real or imagined — for example, visualize yourself biting into a tart lemon and see what your mind tells your salivary glands to do — when you give yourself positive affirmations and imagine that these things are actually happening right now, your subconscious mind wants to make them happen for you. Here are examples of positive affirmations for sales people:
- “I know my products and I will show my customers how these products are perfect for their situation”
- "I know how to treat people so they will be open to my suggestions”
- "My self-confidence as a sales person grows each day”
- "I see myself breaking my sales records each month”
Visualize your sales success before approaching each potential customer
Your subconscious mind takes orders from you without judging success or failure. As noted above, internal dialogue and beliefs are one means of directing your subconscious mind. Another powerful technique for directing the subconscious mind is actually visualizing success. Professional golfers, for example, who visualize each shot before they make it, find a tremendous similarity between their vision of that shot and the subsequent shot that they make.
So, visualize yourself preparing for the sales call, gathering your materials and feeling encouraged because you know your products. Visualize yourself feeling confident as you enter the room where the pitch will take place. Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin the perfect sales presentation. See the customer smiling and nodding in agreement as you show him/her how much this product will help them. Finally, visualize yourself shaking hands with the client, closing the deal and writing up the order.
Practice powerful goal setting strategies. People are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when they write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about the goal. Write down short- and long-term goals that are specific and action-oriented. For example, “For this month, I will sell at least 27 widgets.” Make sure your goals are realistic.
Next, visualize yourself feeling wonderful once you accomplished the goal. Imagine it as if you already accomplished the goal. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, write down ways in which you can sabotage yourself so that you will not accomplish that goal. This is a critical way of recognizing ways you did not realize you were undermining your success and developing a strategy to stop that self-defeating behavior.