One of the medical miracles that I find most amazing is not a new discovery. The one that bowls me over every time is the good old “placebo effect.” This is where, say, 100 patients are given a white pill to cure a medical problem. Fifty get the real medicine and fifty get nothing more than white powder (the “placebo”). Yet, some significant percentage of the placebo group (sometimes well more than half) will show symptom relief or even get cured.
This proves beyond any doubt the staggering importance of the mind and a person’s attitude. If a positive attitude can cure a medical problem without medicine, what can it do for a “sales” problem?
So, let’s tackle some of the more common problems relating to attitudes which I find among salespeople today … attitudes which can have unintended destructive consequences on your sales effort and client relationships. (Note: I do not like to dwell on negatives, and sometimes in this chapter it may seem like I am unduly focused on negatives. Unfortunately, that comes with the territory when pointing out problems. Remember, we are trying to deal constructively with mental processes which may need some adjustment and realignment for the sake of a sales career. We are not judging people.)
Thinking The Mission Is To Change Other’s Attitudes
Have you noticed any associates or prospects who walk around day in and day out looking as if they have just lost their best friend? These people seem to communicate to the world that life is and will continue to be an unfair experience. Daily existence appears to be a total drag to them — life offers nothing to them in return for their “showing up.”
If you happen to know one or more of these people (and I’m betting that you do) let me suggest that you avoid trying to improve the lot of anyone engaged in a continuous exercise in self-pity.
Don’t think for a minute your job is to get these people singing from the right side of the page. Your job is to get your thinking straight, in gear and firmly positioned for greater things to come. Here is a thought that I have grown quite fond of:
You can’t change the world, but you can change YOUR world.
Your job is to light a fire under your own backside and make certain that you don’t come across looking like you are marking time between now and the hereafter. People are attracted to people who are alive, energetic, and happy — who have ideas and crazy notions about life — who have kind things to say about others. So, if you truly want to be the exception, pick a game . . . any game . . . and then get into the game. Become a player . . . today!
Not Permitting Mistakes
What stops most people from identifying and pursuing what they want to achieve? The answer: Fear. Fear of what? Fear of failure, or on a more incremental basis, the fear of making mistakes.
Here’s how you can completely reverse that psychology: Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
You heard me right. I’m not suggesting that you commit flagrant fouls. I’m simply asking you to allow yourself to experiment and make the mistakes that come with trying to stretch beyond your current comfort zone. Mistakes are visible signs that you are trying to do something new.
Here is a corollary: Allowing yourself to make mistakes will actually make you, and your life, more interesting. The words “mistake” and “boring” do not work well together. Mistakes are never boring. Quite the contrary, mistakes can be catalysts for adrenaline surges. Some may be dangerous and others may be stupid. Some mistakes will be costly while others will be painfully embarrassing. But without exception, they will never be boring. Plus, people are drawn to people who are not afraid to make mistakes and find it delightfully amusing to laugh at themselves. So stick your neck out now and then. Stretch a little. Make a mistake.
Not Taking Responsibility
If you don’t make it happen, chances are nobody will. You must make it your business to grow your business. Not assuming responsibility for what happens in your career, week, day or sales call is a mistake.
The outcome of your sales career is entirely up to you. That is one of the beautiful things about sales. Your hands are on the controls. Your future, for the most part, lies entirely within your power. You set the pace. You plan your day. You make the calls. You take the credit. You take the hits.
Take responsibility for your success and for your failures. No excuses. During the Nagano Olympics, Alberto Tomba, the reigning downhill skiing superstar, was expected to take the Gold. His style was to pull out all the stops and “go for it.” (He was most definitely never boring.) But at Nagano he didn’t make it to the Gold; he didn’t make it down the mountain. When asked by a commentator what happened, the interview was short, sweet and to the point — no excuses: “I fell.” (No, the mountain did not push him.) He didn’t win the Gold but I remember Tomba’s reply and not the guy who did win.
Too Little Competitive Spirit
If we were to play tennis and just short of taking your first serve I declared you the winner, you would feel somewhat unfulfilled. Likewise, if we were going to play golf and I declared you the winner on the practice putting green, I don’t think you would relish the victory.
Then why do salespeople want to accept victory before they have had a chance to earn it? Competition is what makes “the game” worth playing.
I am reminded here of another interview. This one was between Howard Cosell (the lawyer turned commentator) and Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder (the famous odds maker). Howard asked Jimmy what he enjoyed best in life. Jimmy quickly responded, “Howard, I like to win.” When Howard followed with what the Greek one liked second best, Jimmy answered just as quickly and said, “Howard, that’ s an easy one. I like to lose.”
Here was a man who took pleasure in playing the game . . . who enjoyed the action. Win or lose it was the competition that brought Jimmy the Greek to the game.
Here’s the winning competitive mindset for you to cultivate. Know the rules of the game. Know that you honestly can’t win them all. But learn to enjoy the process of selling. This will insure a healthy competitive spirit.
Not Seeking Success For Your Clients
If you want to get to the top of the sales profession, you have to focus on helping others, not on “selling.” When you try to sell, it appears to everyone that you are selling, and nobody I know enjoys being “sold.” But, when you are legitimately, openly and sincerely interested in helping people, you will have their undivided attention, and eventually, the combination to their check book.
Zig Ziglar is a famous sales trainer who began his career selling pots and pans and is now an icon. Zig said it well:
“You will get everything in life you want if you first try to help others get what it is they want in life.”
Look at it from a slightly different angle. Make it your business to make other people successful. That’s your new mission in life . . . to make your prospects, clients (and associates) successful. If your product or service can help make others successful, then you will soon be in high cotton.
Bottom Line: Get out of you and into others. Focus on trying to help other people succeed. Use what you know and who you know for a single purpose, and that is to help others.
Seeing The Prospect As An Adversary
As bizarre as this sounds, a “me against you” mentality is a common mistake among salespeople. Maybe this is a misdirected competitive spirit that pits the salesperson against the prospect. Sales should not and cannot happen this way.
Let’s see . . . prospects will only become customers if treated properly. Customers pay our bills and are responsible for feeding our families. No customers . . . no business. So here’s a brainstorm: Let’s bad mouth our customers and show them what a lousy attitude looks and sounds like every opportunity we get. (I hate this phrase, but it seems to fit perfectly right about now — HELLOOOWWW!!!!!!!!)
Let’s get something clear. Prospects, having passed from the suspect stage, are good things. Talk to them as if they were good things. Treat them with respect as if they were good things. Behave in public as if they were good things. THEY ARE GOOD THINGS.
Corollary: Underestimating The Prospect’s Intelligence
A counter-productive attitude that often accompanies looking at the prospect as an adversary is underestimating the prospect’s intelligence. I suppose doing this can soften the blow of “rejection.” After all, the guy who just turned down your supremely perfect proposal must be a dummy, right? But all this does is insure rejection.
Most people are smarter than you give them credit for. They may not be book smart or school smart. But people usually know which end is up, particularly when it comes to their businesses. Don’t make the mistake of selling people short. Deal with them on a level playing field with respect and sincerity. You will not only enjoy the results, but you’ll find more pleasure in what you are doing for a living.
Not Taking Pride In Your Job
What you do for a living is important. And it affects more people than you will ever know. If you haven’t already, it is about time for you to adopt this mindset.
Maybe your immediate supervisors are so busy with their own problems that they fail to reinforce the importance of your contributions. An amateur can easily get bent out of shape when this happens. A professional knows the importance of his or her contribution and doesn’t need to hear it from others on an hourly basis. (But they do need to hear it from time to time, just like everyone else.) Sure we enjoy the sound of others applauding our work, but we don’t depend on it to do our jobs. We know that we add value to our company and to our customers. You are a professional. Take pride in that fact.
Taking Rejection Personally
As I mentioned in Section I, the notion that rejection comes with the territory is a myth. But if you insist on interpreting events as a rejection, then please absorb this advise. Taking rejection personally is an enormous waste of time. Sales comes with a whole bunch of “No’s” attached to this profession. These usually have nothing to do with you. Sales, my friends, is not about you. Sales never has been about you. Sales will never be about you.
Sales is about a buyer with a pre-existing need for a service or product. You are the conduit, the middle person. You are the mailman, the purveyor of information. You simply can’t take this thing personally, either good or bad. A decision to pass up the chance to buy probably would have occurred with you or in your absence. You can only help those in a buying mode. Don’t waste your time and the time of anyone else within earshot by taking rejection personally.
Focusing On Negatives
It’s human to sometimes focus on negatives. Heaven knows there are enough negative things going on in this world to provide plenty of opportunities to succumb to the Dark Side. There isn’t much you can do to change this fact or what people do. But you can decide to change your response to the world’s stimuli. You absolutely do not have to follow the pack and become a negative person. Being positive is an option.
It confuses me when people decide to re-orient their lives toward the positive immediately after a catastrophe whacks their lives into a ball of unfortunate turmoil. Death of a loved one has a tendency to straighten people out. Disease has straightened people out. Fires and even tornadoes have straightened people out.
Let me save you some time, money and hurt. Straighten yourself out. Don’t wait for nature to serve as a catalyst. Begin to see the positive side of things on your own and the benefits of feeling positive versus negative.
In a previous chapter I quoted Barry Diller, QVC’s president. The situation surrounding that quote is an excellent example of the way I want you to begin to see things as professional salespeople. Mr. Diller learned that his bid to take over Paramount Pictures fell short. This billion dollar bonanza fell as flat as Wiley Coyote after the Road Runner runs him down with a steamroller. If there ever was a good reason to become negged out, this failure would qualify as Numero Uno. But when asked how he felt upon learning of this failure, Diller very casually responded, “They won. We lost. Whose next?”
What a great way of looking at “the game.” When approaching any business opportunity, the professional knows that a number of things can spoil the sale. In fact, in the majority of cases, the sale does not materialize for one reason or another. This isn’t negative thinking. It is a fact. True professionals refuse to spend much time focusing on bad news. There isn’t enough time in the day and there is too much to accomplish.
“Whose next?” should be your only response. If you insist on feeling bad after a disappointment, that is understandable. Just don’t get used to feeling sorry for yourself. Take a few minutes to shed a tear or punch a wall (depending on your personality type) then get back to business. You have work to do.
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