On some level, your success in the sales world is dependent on how you think. It’s not so much about having a certain belief or following a certain process. Instead, it often boils down to how you see the world.
The undercurrent of these mindsets will guide you to react in different ways. Let’s take a simple example: you’ve locked your keys in your car. If you see this as a personal mistake, you’ll be inclined to take measures to avoid making this mistake in the future, such as making a copy of the key or attaching your keys to something you can’t leave the car without. If you see this as merely a byproduct of bad luck, you won’t take accountability for the mistake, and you’ll be inclined to repeat it.
Beyond personal accountability, there are several mindset changes you can make in the world of sales to become more successful in your career.
The Sales Mindset
Try shifting your sales mindset in the following ways:
- Set high goals and fail instead of setting easily achievable goals. Bruce Lee is quoted as saying, “Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” Many salespeople try to set goals based on their achievability, mostly due to fearing failure. However, it’s usually better to set a lofty goal, even if you don’t achieve it. Setting goals above your abilities will challenge you to improve, rather than allowing you to stay at your current level. Even if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll probably perform better.
- Consider your approach as an offer of help, not a request. Most salespeople think about their job as making a request; you’re explaining a product and convincing someone they need to buy it, or you’re asking them to buy it. This is self-focused, so try to flip this mentality around. Instead, think of your job as helping people find solutions to their problems. This will make it easier to listen to their needs, and can help you build trust confidently.
- Think of objections as invitations for conversation. It’s natural for salespeople to fear objections, and dedicate much of their approach to overcoming those objections. However, objections can be a good thing; when people state an objection, it means they’re engaged with the conversation, and they’re interested in hearing more about your product. Come to see objections as invitations for further discussion, and you’ll handle them much better.
- Prioritize objective data as the absolute truth. Too many salespeople trust their intuitions, their past experiences, and their own thoughts and feelings as the best way to learn how to sell. However, objective data, gathered from research and experimentation is always superior. It’s unbiased, it’s precise, and if you analyze it correctly, it’s actionable. Even if you have a solid intuition, you need to back it up with objective data.
- See selling as listening, more than speaking. Shift the focus of your conversations from you to them. It’s common for salespeople to spend all their time polishing their pitches and persuasive arguments, but it’s often better to spend more time listening than speaking. Pay attention to what your prospects are telling you, and what their wants, needs, and issues are.
- Schedule and spend time based on quality, not quantity. Have you ever tried to improve your performance by simply spending more hours working? Most of us have, but it’s not an effective approach. It’s much better to improve the quality of the time you spend, rather than the quantity. For example, you could spend your time on better, more qualified prospects, or improve your overall efficiency. That way, you’ll accomplish more no matter how many hours you spend.
- Come to see rejection as an inevitability. Accepting rejection is key to selling confidently. While you don’t want to get rejected regularly, coming to see it as an inevitability can help you deal with it and move past it easier; even the best salespeople will get rejected on occasion.
- Reflect on failure as a learning opportunity. This is a good mentality for any professional to have, but it’s especially important in the world of sales. Failure is never the end of the line, and you should never be afraid to fail. If you see failure as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, and not as some indicator of worthlessness, you’ll greatly improve your performance.
Focus on the variables under your control. There are many sales variables you simply can’t help, but it’s neither productive nor good for your mental wellbeing to focus on them. Instead of thinking about the coincidental variables that got in your way, focus exclusively on the variables that are under your direct control. It’s the only way you’re going to reliably improve.
- See sales improvement as an ongoing project. When trying to improve sales, many reps think of their approach as a one-time fix, but this is limiting. There’s no such thing as a perfect sales strategy; you can keep improving things indefinitely. Think of your sales performance as an ongoing effort, and commit to iterative improvements.
How to Change a Mindset
It’s one thing to realize what kind of mindsets you “should” have as a salesperson. It’s another thing entirely to try and change your mind to accommodate them. Our outlooks and philosophies tend to be a complex byproduct of our experiences, and therefore aren’t easy to change.
There are a few things that can help you here, including:
- Visual reminders. Use sticky notes, motivational posters, or other visuals as prompts to remind yourself of your long-term values. Seeing the written phrase repeatedly will eventually make the concept “sink in.”
- Mantras. You can see a similar effect by using mantras, or repeated, spoken phrases. Tell yourself, “I’m here to help, not ask for a sale,” or “If I fail, I’ll treat it as a learning opportunity.” Even if you don’t immediately believe it, the repetition will help you change your mentality eventually.
- Team environments. General dispositions, like positivity or negativity, are socially contagious. Accordingly, if you surround yourself with talented salespeople who already exhibit the mentality you want to have, it will be easier for you to adjust.
Spend time evaluating and refining your mindset, and you could see a massive increase in your number of sales. It may take some time, and some serious effort, but it’s well worth the investment.