Chekkov said that “Man is what he believes” and that is certainly true in sales.
Beliefs and behaviour of salespeople is a topic that I’ve only really come to understand in the last few years. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have been even more successful in my early selling days. Beliefs have a huge positive impact on your sales performance, but equally can have a very negative impact.
I remember times in my sales career when I really believed that I wouldn’t be able to close a deal with a client: They were a huge international company with an enormous head office. I knew they were a Major Account for one of our main competitors. What happened? You’re right – I’d psyched myself out of the deal before I’d even got to the meeting.
Conversely, I recall an important interview with the market leaders in my chosen market. Due to my earlier sales successes in that market I truly believed that I’d succeed in the new company. I performed better in that interview than any other previously and landed the job.
If you believe in success you’re empowered to achieve it. If you believe in failure, those messages will lead you to failure.
In my experience success in sales comes as a direct result of confidence, and confidence is built on the pillars of your beliefs.
So where do your positive beliefs come from in sales?
First Pillar: Skills & Knowledge
Your skills and knowledge are vital. Having deep knowledge of your products / services as well as your company is a prerequisite for any sales person going into the field and engaging with prospects. If you’re new to sales or new to your company then you must learn as much as you can from all available resources.
Just as importantly, you need to gain as much knowledge about your competitor’s products, services, possible sales strategies and tactics. When I first started selling large copier machines for Kodak we were competing against Rank Xerox, the market leaders at the time. The training that I received was fantastic – not only did I know all about our products but I also had a working knowledge of my competitor’s as well. We had a sales lab with our competitor’s equipment on rental so we could get to know them. This meant that when I went into the field I was confident that I could answer any question the prospect would throw at me, and also demonstrate how our machine was superior to the competitors. I’d never felt so well prepared to sell – my beliefs about success were sky high and those were reflected in the results that I achieved.
Second Pillar: Past Success
The second contributing factors are your past events or results. The surest way to confirm a belief is to do something once and succeed. Unfortunately, this is often difficult for salespeople as, by the nature of the role, we won’t succeed every time.
I’ve have times, and I’ve seen it in plenty of other sales people, when you go through a ‘loss of form’. The competitors win a few deals, you mess up a couple of meetings and before you know it you’re tumbling down the sales leagues.
This is when you’ve got to really go to work on your beliefs otherwise you’ll experience the lack of confidence that will really have an impact on your performance. What you need to recognise is, like professional sports people, almost all professional salespeople will experience this loss of form at some point. To recover you need to start focusing on small things and improve in small steps, to start rebuilding your belief.
When I was managing sales people who experienced this I’d work closely with them to build their beliefs by helping them achieve success in small steps again. There were times when a salesperson would tell me they couldn’t do it any more, and I’m sure we’ve all said that to our selves on occasion. When you into this mind set your thoughts spiral downwards without control and the impact on your actions can be devastating. However handled correctly, with the right focus and support, you can soon start building and reinforcing your beliefs again to produce fantastic results.
Third Pillar: Your Environment
The third factor is what I call your environment. This can have a massive effect on your beliefs.
Who do you socialise with? What do your family think of you doing a sales role?
Your upbringing can have an enormous effect on beliefs and behaviour. When I was young I was told that ‘children should be seen and not heard’, not to ‘get too big for my boots’, that making lots of money would not be good for me and that ‘money was the root cause of evil’. All interesting beliefs to have when embarking on a career in sales and to be honest took me some time to shake them off. It was only when I started hanging out with other successful sales people that my identity and beliefs really started to change.
You need to be aware of what influences you have outside of work and what messages you are picking up. Sometimes when salespeople experience a loss of form the cause can be identified as their external environment. In these cases I’ve had to advise they make a change: Move out of your parent’s house; change your circle of friends if you truly want to take your sales career to the next level.
Fourth Pillar: A Positive Mental Attitude
The fourth pillar is to create a positive mental attitude towards sales.
When I started in sales I didn’t like the job title of sales executive. I believed it smacked of the types of sales people that gave the profession a bad name with all their door-to-door bad practices. I was much happier when I got my first promotion and became an account manager. Now however I am really proud of being associated with sales and so should you.
This positive mental attitude can be likened to experiencing your future results in advance. If you feel that where you are now isn’t giving you the lifestyle you truly desire, you need to create in your mind the way you want it to be and step into that world. So if you want to start winning £million deals rather than £thousand deals, start thinking of the lifestyle, behaviour and beliefs that a salesperson who regularly closes these deals would have.
If your objective is to close a £5,000 deal then really what you are trying to do is to just make enough money to pay your immediate bills. If that’s the level of your goal, is that really going to get you excited about doing sales? Do you get out of bed in the morning excited and motivated about winning a deal to merely pay off your bills?
But selling is selling; you’ve got to do the work of making calls, setting up appointments, presenting and negotiating. So why not raise the goal to close a £500,000 deal and see how much more excited that gets you about making the sale?
Raising the bar also activates your mind and allows you to really unlock the resources of your higher potential that I’m sure you’ve got. I love to use the example of Mohammad Ali who was always telling the world that he was the greatest. First it allowed him to believe it, and then slowly the rest of the boxing world began to believe it and that gave him such an edge,
Your Sales Success Rests On the Pillars of Your Self Belief
Using these pillars you can understand, build and mobilise your beliefs as a sales person. To be truly successful you have to really believe in yourself and how the products and services you’re selling can genuinely have a positive effect for the people buying them.
When you adopt this mindset you’ll be unstoppable.
I’ve seen too many salespeople who carry self-limiting beliefs that are only just succeeding; meanwhile, salespeople who take control of beliefs have the confidence to be unstoppable.
A useful exercise is to jot down the limiting beliefs, or ‘anchors’, that you’re dragging around. Awareness of these self limiting beliefs is the start. You have to formulate a plan for how you can cut these anchors and get on with your career as a salesperson.
In summary: Don’t underestimate the power of your beliefs and the impact, good and bad, this has on your performance as a salesperson. Stay positive; believe in yourself and your products and services. Think big and you will succeed. Believe me