A positive attitude - optimism, expectancy and enthusiasm - is the key difference between a top sales performer and an average one. The reason is simple: if you don't have the energy to get out there and sell... you won't.
Even so, many sales professionals find it difficult to approach selling with a positive attitude each and every day. This post explains exactly how to tune your attitude so that it creates more success -- every time you go out there and sell.
READERS: An easy-to-follow system for selling B2B -- including an improved version of this post -- is provided in my new book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.
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Illustrations by Sergey Konyakin
Attitude is not the result of what happens in the world, but how one decides to interpret what happens in the world.
Take the weather, for example. In the United States, many people feel depressed when it's raining and uplifted when it's sunny. In the Middle East, many people feel the exact opposite - a cooling rain is an excuse to have a picnic under a tree.
Similarly, many adults grumble when it snows, while most children are delighted. This illustrates that one's attitude to the weather is essentially arbitrary. It's not the weather that creates the attitude, but the interpretation what the weather means.
Arguing that "children like snow because they don't have to go to school" is missing the point. A snowbound child could just as easily mope around inside and complain about not being able to play croquet because it's snowing.
Similarly, a sales rep making a sales call while it's snowing can grouse about the extra drive time or can look forward to the appreciation that a customer might feel because the sales rep is committed enough to fight the weather to make the meeting.
In short, attitude is the "mental filter" through which one sees the world. Some see the world through a filter of optimism; no matter what happens they always make lemonade from the lemons.
Every truly great sales professional thinks this way. Others see the world through a filter of pessimism; no matter what happens, they always find the cloud in the silver lining. People who think this way are usually terrible at sales.
Most sales reps, however, don't belong to either extreme. Instead, most sales reps (and indeed most people) have a variable filter which creates resourceful attitudes and non-resourceful ones, based upon arbitrary interpretations of events.
Their challenge for such people is to trade their variable and out-of-control mental filter for a consciously optimistic mental filter, in order to consistently create the attitude that results in top sales performance.
The subsequent steps in this post help you do exactly that.
Sales reps who have trouble with maintaining a positive attitude are almost always letting arbitrary exterior events automatically trigger bad feelings.
For example, a sales rep might become annoyed and defensive prior to a customer call simply by running into a series of red lights during the drive. To that sales rep, the red lights "mean" that it's an "unlucky" day. As a result, the sales rep walks into the customer meeting feeling depressed and defensive.
To change get a different result, you must modify your interpretation of exterior events that formerly triggered your bad attitude. Once those events have a different meaning, they won't be able to trigger a bad attitude.
For example, the sales rep above might see a series of red lights as an indication of how smart it was to leave early for the call. Or if the sales rep is late because of the delays, the red lights can be an opportunity to collect thoughts and decide upon a damage control strategy.
Many sales professionals view so-called failures - lost sales, missed calls, bad prospects - as triggers for bad attitude. However, it's also possible to view "failures" as learning experiences that point out the adjustments you must make in order to be more successful.
Rather than become irritated at a "failure," it makes more sense to consider that, if you never failed, it would mean that you were taking no risks. In any case, even the best sales rep doesn't close every sale.
If you make it your business to learn from every setback and stay focused on your end result "failure" simply becomes a way-station on the road to success.
It's easier to achieve and maintain a positive attitude if you have a "library" of positive thoughts in your head, so that you can draw upon them if the day doesn't go exactly as you'd prefer.
Starting each day reading, or listening to, something positive helps ensure that you have such a "library" to draw upon. Consider reading an inspirational book right after you wake up. You might also want to spend your commute listening to motivational tapes rather than the news, for instance.
Along these lines, don't forget that music is a time-honored way to manage your moods and attitudes. Consider investing in mp3 files or CDs of music that you find motivating and energizing. Use it to "pump yourself up" right before your big meetings or to cool you down when things get challenging.
Use your imagination to find new ways to pump positive thoughts and feeling into your head. Set a target of at least 15 minutes a day. If you commit more time to this, you'll get more benefits.
Our mass media culture bombards us with highly emotional messages intended to lead us to buy a particular product. In particular, over-exposure to the news media can be a real killer of a positive attitude.
Thirty years ago, news programs primarily provided people with information intended to help them understand the issues of the day. Today, however, most news broadcasts consist of "infotainment" specifically-crafted to support commercial messages.
Much of today's news programming consist of "if it bleeds it leads" stories followed by commercials offering some form of security or comfort. The idea is to amp up your fear/anger/frustration and then provide you an action, like buying "comfort food," which promises to relieve the pressure.
This constant flow of negative imagery and commentary can not only destroy a positive attitude, it can actively create a negative attitude about life and the world.
Therefore, if you want to maintain a positive mood, you should consider reducing, or even eliminating, your exposure to broadcast news programming.
Instead, read the business section, or better yet, spend more time with some motivational tapes. Or with some music that raises your spirits. Or with great literature. Stick to media that help your attitude to constantly improve.
Spending time with people who have a negative view of life makes it very difficult for you to maintain a positive attitude.
You probably have one or more friends, relatives, or acquaintances who make you feel tired and drained. They always seem to have something sour to say; criticisms come to their lips far more quickly than compliments.
If you tell them of a success that you've had, their congratulations ring hollow. You sense that they'd just as soon that you had failed. What a drag (literally)!
Such people are toxic to your attitude (and hence to your success in sales) because, if they're not actively tearing down your enthusiasm, they're trying to get you think about the world the same depressing way that they do.
If you want to maintain a positive attitude, sharply limit your daily exposure to such people. Don't show up at the daily "watercooler complain-fest." Don't go to lunch with the "grouse and grumble" crowd.
If you can't avoid negative types entirely, don't get drawn into lengthy gripe sessions. Limit your conversation to the business issues you need to address and then change the subject to a more positive topic as soon as possible.
The words that come out of your mouth aren't just a reflection of what's in your brain -- they're programming your brain how to think. Therefore, if you want to have a positive attitude, your vocabulary must be consistently positive.
Here are five quick techniques to use your vocabulary to improve and strengthen a positive attitude:
- Stop using negative phrases such as "I can't," "It's impossible," or "This won't work." These statements program you for negative results.
- Whenever anyone asks "How are you?", respond enthusiastically with "Terrific!" or "Fabulous!" or "I've never felt better!" And mean it.
- Stop complaining about things over which you have no control, such as the economy, your company, the customers, etc.
- Stop griping about your personal problems and illnesses. What good does it do other than to depress you and everyone else?
- Expunge negative words in your speech. Substitute neutral words for emotionally loaded ones. For example, rather than saying "I'm enraged!" say "I'm a bit annoyed..." or (better yet) "I've got a real challenge..."
There is nothing in your career, indeed in your life, that will make a bigger difference than taking control of your attitude. If you maintain a positive attitude, success will literally fall into your lap. If not today, then tomorrow.
IMPORTANT: If you think this post is useful, click on the Digg, Facebook, or Twitter logos above and share it with your friends!!! That's a VERY positive thing to do!!
- Step #1: Realize that YOU are in Control
- Step #2: Re-frame Failures and Setbacks
- Step #3: Get Daily Positive Input
- Step #4: Avoid Negative Media
- Step #5: Avoid Negative People
- Step #6: Adopt a Positive Vocabulary
Here are some posts that can help you keep motivated and maintain a positive attitude: