In the competitive world of sales, everyone is seeking the magic bullet that will accelerate prospecting return. Companies run brainstorming sessions, hire consultants, and invest in expensive technology.
Don’t roll your eyes; this isn’t going to be a Pollyanna article. Research shows that salespeople with high levels of optimism make more money for their companies.
Dr. Martin Seligman’s work with insurance company Metropolitan Life is one of the more famous case studies. Met Life was spending $30,000 on sales training per salesperson, but 80% of their reps had left within four years. Seligman started testing job candidates for optimism. His results proved soft skills do produce hard sales results.
Salespeople who scored high in optimism sold 33% more insurance than those who scored lower. After two years, these optimistic salespeople were thriving in their positions. Turnover decreased, and sales increased because Met Life focused on hiring for optimism, not just hard selling skills.
Optimism is not an arrow for your bow. It is the quiver wherein you can store up all your super special fire-power and retrieve when needed.
To create an optimistic environment — and reap the bottom-line benefits — use these three methods.
1) Embrace adversity
When faced with a tough challenge, optimistic salespeople don’t become depressed or play the blame game. Instead, they ask themselves better questions, giving them stronger answers to handle setbacks.
Optimists consider these lessons to be free tuition, knowing the lessons learned today will make them money in the future.
- “What’s good about this challenge?” There’s often a hidden upside.
- “What’s the lesson?”Optimistic salespeople are fierce about learning the lesson because they recognize that’s how a character develops, and growth happens.
- “What’s funny about this challenge?”Tough times can be stressful. The body responds to stressful situations by producing cortisol, and prolonged stress and cortisol lead to fatigue, confusion, and a lack of creativity.
Optimistic salespeople manage their stress with humor, which can put challenges into proper perspective. At a sales training conference of Microsoft several years ago, a bunch of “sales gurus” sat around and shared stories of sales calls they had screwed up. The anecdotes were hilarious and provided the much-needed perspective that they would all live to sell another day.
2) Address Objections
Things will NOT go your way. One thing’s certain that nothing is certain.
Prospects will almost always not make things easy for you. They will be well-armed with questionnaires and a lot of mind-boggling interrogations directed your way. Brush them off with grace. Take the bullets head on.
Prospects will have an array of objections starting from the price being a tad high to the futility of availing to your product now. You should have the counter answers in your arsenal, ready and waiting. A good sales rep always stays one step ahead of his prospects. Work in groups and come up with possible questions and objection that you might have to deal with.
One of the more famous mastermind groups included Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President Warren G. Harding and Harvey Firestone.
I’m pretty sure this group focused on raising the bar and not defaulting to excuses.
3) Take control
Depressed salespeople generally have an “external locus of control.” They feel like everything is happening to them, i.e. “I don’t have good marketing collateral. The competition is bigger. My territory is lousy.”
Like anything else in life, business is all about building relationships. But unlike the relationships that you develop with family and friends, it is never a good idea to bring in too many emotions when something goes wrong in business.
If you do manage to get a reply or land a meeting with a prospect, always set up your next contact now. Never end any active communication with them before setting a clear next step.
If business is slow, optimistic salespeople
- Increase their prospecting efforts and activity or change their approach.
- Meet with mentors who will help them work more strategically or do something differently.
- Adjust their schedule, planning to outwork the competition.
- Get smarter so they trump the competition.
Optimistic salespeople take control and manage results, not excuses.
Optimism is a soft skill, an emotional intelligence skill, one that produces hard sales results. Optimism is a choice. When adversity hits, change your response. Choose your peers wisely and take control of your situation. Optimism can and will increase your bottom line.
Geet Mehr – Cofounder Sellulose