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.”