Leveraging Mindset as Part of Your Sales Approach
Today is the most important sales presentation of your career. If you close the deal, you’ll shatter past sales records, secure long-term profits for your company, and likely be considered for that promotion. If you lose the deal, six months of effort will be wasted, and you can kiss that promotion goodbye. How you perform when the pressure is on comes down to mindset.
Mindset allows you to handle pressure positively and effectively. The stress of a big presentation causes your brain to produce stress hormones. Stress hormones can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep limits your ability to concentrate, process information, and make decisions. Unfortunately, our brains are developed for survival, not shattering sales records. This article explores the fundamentals of mindset and how to improve your sales performance.
Mindset management is performance management. Prioritizing your mindset should be a daily part of your sales approach. The ability to act with intention and perform at our best, regardless of the situation, is like writing your own winning lottery ticket in sales. Mindset management is not just about performing well under pressure but consistently doing the little things even when the stakes are high.
As sales professionals, we have the tendency to slip into anxious and low-productivity mental states because of the nature of sales. Rejection and disappointment are a regular part of the job. Negative mental input can lead to negative self-talk and loss of confidence. From there, it is a short hop to “the effort isn’t worth it.” And if we are not careful, we start to skip the little behaviors and hard work that made us successful in the first place.
Sales Leader’s Impact
What drives behaviors? Well, the first question is, whose behaviors are we observing? If we are observing our own behaviors, we attribute them to the situation and circumstances. If we watch others, we attribute their behavior to their character and competence. This is called fundamental attribution error in psychology.
To maximize their sales team’s performance, sales leaders will benefit from understanding the impact of mindset on behaviors. Most sales reps won’t say, “I’m uncomfortable asking for referrals.” They simply won’t do it. Sales leaders who understand mindset create a positive, productive, collaborative team culture. Ignoring mindset prevents sales leaders from identifying potential performance barriers. Uncovering mindset barriers requires a combination of communication and relationship-building skills.
The Johari Window is a model to improve communication and relationships between leaders and their teams. The model aims to increase self-awareness, reduce blind spots, and improve communication and collaboration. It consists of a four-quadrant grid that includes:
- Things that are known to oneself and others.
- Things unknown to ourselves but known to others.
- Things unknown to others but known to ourselves.
- Things unknown to everyone.
The four quadrants are called open, blind, hidden, and unknown areas. The more unknowns in a relationship, the less potential the relationship has. When you remove unknowns, a better understanding is the result.
For sales leaders, uncovering the unknown blind spots among their sales teams is a superpower. For example, we’ve noticed salespeople who do just fine in role-playing scenarios. But when they are in front of a live customer, they start talking faster, raising their tone, and asking fewer questions. An ineffective sales leader can worsen these behaviors by failing to create awareness and provide proper coaching.
Stress in sales isn’t bad or wrong, but it can become a performance inhibitor if not controlled. If you feel stress and allow it to influence your sales behaviors, as many sales reps do, you are allowing stress to take control. For sales leaders, visualization is one strategy to help sales reps control stress.
Visualization and Sales Success
“See first with your mind, then with your eyes, and finally with your body,” Yagyū Munenori, a Japanese martial artist, said in 1646. He was referring to mental imagery, popularly called visualization. Visualization is the process of using your mind’s ability to visualize to help with learning, development, and performance. This type of mental rehearsal is proven to improve performance.
The clarity of your visualization will improve with practice. When I initially practiced visualization, I struggled. I would try to visualize closing a big deal or delivering high-stakes presentation. To be effective, you need to vividly see the performance like you are doing it yourself, not from a spectator’s eyes. Once I could do this, my performance improved. When done right, visualization creates confidence because you feel what winning is like.
Visualization is beneficial because it creates new neural connections in our brains. Repetitive visualization can strengthen and reinforce these neural connections, making them more efficient and easier to access in times of stress. This can help improve performance in the corresponding activity and increase motivation and confidence.
If you think about the essence of high-performance selling, it’s knowing what to do and when. If you play a successful sales call in your mind before the call, your stress will reduce. Mentally practicing specific sales skills or scenarios as part of your daily routine will build muscle memory and ultimately improve sales performance.
Neuroscience research suggests that visualization can powerfully impact brain function and behavior. If you find yourself in a sales rut, it is easy to start stacking negative thoughts. These thoughts can impact your confidence in yourself, your product, and your company. Visualization allows you to override those negative thoughts and prioritize your attention. Visualization is one of the most underused activities in sales.
Thoughts influence feelings, and feelings influence our performance. Ignoring the inner game is not an option if we want to maximize our sales potential. Focus on the work. Focus on what we’ve been trained to do, with the right attitude, to the very best of our abilities.
Mindset is just one of many factors that impact sales performance. With the right mindset, you’ll start selling with inspiration, not desperation. Happy selling!
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