Written by Sean McPheat |
Getting (and keeping) Your Mindset Right
Let’s face it; there are times when it seems everything is going wrong: You lose a few sales you thought you had in the bag. Sales you closed fall out of financing. Prospecting seems to become a nightmare and it feels like you are hearing “NO,” more times than humanly possible. No other business in the world can mess up your mind, self-esteem and confidence like the world of professional selling.
Now if you are a true professional who has invested time in study, training and effort, then these bad times should never last very long and you should have a very consistent flow of business. However, when one of those weeks or months comes along, when you are in the middle of the storm, what do you do? What do you do to keep your composure and your confidence? How do you keep your mindset focused and on track and remain positive?
If you have been in the world of selling for any length of time then you have heard the familiar rhetoric on how to handle these trying times: “Don’t take it personally.” “They are not rejecting you, just your products or services…” “It takes 10 NOs to get one YES.” “Each no gets you closer to the sale.” “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”
In short, the answer to maintaining a positive attitude when besieged by negative circumstance is usually to just THINK positively and things will get better. Positive thinking will solve the problem.
Well, I am as big a proponent of positive thinking and positive projection as anyone in the world. However, I also know that positive thinking followed by negative action, results in negative outcomes. I understand the critical role your thinking plays on your life and career. And while some people are able to “think” themselves out of the dumps; controlling their thoughts and uplifting their attitudes, others simply have a real hard time accomplishing this.
When sales fall off, income gets tight and spouses get nervous, for many sales people positive thinking becomes wishful thinking, then desperate thinking and finally delusional thinking.
As a professional sales person you need a few simple, tangible and quantifiable activities that will help you to get your head straight and keep it that way, even when your attitude is so deep in the toilet that you have a difficult time conjuring up a single positive thought. If you had a few simple, physical tasks that you could perform; no matter how awful you felt, that could lift you up, show you some positive results and get your head back in the game, then you will find it much easier to begin to apply more of that positive thinking.
What follows are three easy tasks; physical actions you can take that will immediately help you get your mindset right and avoid future doldrums, and you don’t have to have the psychological aptitude of Norman Vincent Peale to do it!
Set Short-term, Activity Targets and Next Step Goals
A quick and simple way to get your head straight when things get you down, is to set short-term, ‘activity targets’ and ‘next step goals’ and strive to reach them.
Although you have your big and long term goals, you need to have many incremental targets to help you stay focused. Set an activity target to call on two more prospects than you called on last month; or to send out 20 more emails or to set five more appointments. Set a goal to add ten more new qualified prospects to your database or to make 21 additional cold calls this month. The key is these targets must be short term, obtainable and easily quantifiable.
Usually the sales person’s only measurement of success is the end result of the entire sales process—the sale. Therefore when the sales are slow or late, all seems lost. However, if you have activity targets in between the sale; small next step goals to reach, then you can see tangible progress and accomplishments in between sales. Small successes will get your head on straight.
Bury Your Mistakes
That big proposal you had been working on for six months falls though and you know it was because you screwed up. Ok. Learn from that mistake, set systems in place so it does not happen again, and then MOVE ON!
I am not just talking about mentally trying to put the mistake out of your mind and trying to forgive yourself. I am referring to the tangible memories that linger in the psychical world—get rid of that stuff. If the sale is dead at least for a long time—then you have to forget it.
Get rid of the ad specs. You say you want to forget about that fortune 500 company sale you lost, but you keep that coffee mug with their logo on your desk. I am not saying that you need to feel bad or develop any animosity for that company, but stop reminding yourself of your failures. Every time you start to get a few NOs on the telephone, you sit back, a little call-reluctance starts to settle in, and then you look over at the coffee mug that is saying, “Yeah, you are messing up again!!”
Erase the marketing strategy you used for that company off of your white board and start fresh. Take that old proposal off of your desk and file it. If you are not going to do any business with that company any time soon then remove their web site link from your “favorites list” in your web browser. You want to keep your head straight and keep your spirits up? Then stop hitting yourself over the head with past mistakes and failures.
Use Science to Put Out the Emotional Fire
Finally, the most important and effective way to get your head right and keep it right is to use science to put out emotional firestorms and to help you see clearly.
Selling is the most subjective business in the world. It is easier to fool yourself in sales than in any other profession. As a sales person, you have to understand that your brain, your mind is not an objective witness to the facts, and will therefore always cloud your judgment. This clouding of judgment comes in many different forms. Based on your feelings alone, you will often find the number of prospects you THINK you called on does not usually match the number of prospects you ACTUALLY called on. The closing average you THINK you have is significantly higher than your real closing average. And your imagination will make you feel like you’ve lost many more sales than you actually have.
You simply cannot rely on feelings, emotions and assumptions; you have to rely on facts. You need to have factual data that will let you see what is really happing rather than what you think is happening. Scientific data will help you see clearly. You need to know the science, the numbers of your business. You need to apply S.O.S. – The Science of Selling. You can find a ton of training material on The Science of Selling at MTD Sales Training, but here I will give you just a few SOS tips that will help you get your mindset right.
First, find out your averages; all of your averages: Your closing average, your appointment setting average, your average sale amount, your average commission, etc. You can not guess on these figures or make them up. They must be from actual past performance records. If you do not have such records, then your sales management should be able to give you the numbers for the average sales person with the firm, compiled over time. Use REAL numbers and rely on them not your feelings.
As an example, let’s say you feel that you worked really hard the last three weeks and sold nothing. Don’t’ panic and begin to let depression set in—look at the numbers. For instance, let us say that your closing average is 20%. That is, history shows that you close one out of every five closing attempts. And remember, as with any average, it is over a length of time, so there are times when you made four or five sales in a row and times when you missed several in a row. But when it is all said and done, it equals a 20% closing average.
Also, your company sales model suggests sales people make five closing attempts per week, thereby closing one sale every week. But you went three weeks with no sale.
As you check the records you find that you only made 9 closing attempts instead of 15 over the last three weeks. Well, guess what? There is no need to feel like some bad luck is on you; you simply did not do the work you thought you did. Nine closes with no sale is not a big deal as the next two sales will put your numbers right. If you did 25 closes (like you felt you did) then maybe there would be a problem. In this case, there is no need to feel bad, just get up and get in the numbers you need.
However, let us say that you check the record and you see that you did indeed do 15 closing attempts and you sold none. Now what? In this case you should not get sad. In fact, you should jump for joy!
Remember, the law of averages is as real as the law of gravity—it will come true. Your closing average of 20% will eventually come true. So, if you did 15 closes then the law OWES you three sales! If you see you invested the correct work ethic, then you have a big payday coming!
Think about it this way: You know that if you flip a coin 100 times, it will land heads 50 and tails 50 or very close to it. Over time it will average 50% for each side. Well, if you flip a coin and it comes up tails 22 times in a row, what does that mean? You can bet that the heads side will catch up and you will get a rash of heads landings. It is the same with selling. If the law owes you, you will get paid! But you have to look at the facts.
Another example of using your SOS to get your head straight is this: Let us say that you are making cold prospecting calls to set appointments and you are having one of those days. Once again, don’t let it get you down—-just check out the numbers!
Figure out your average sales amount; that is how much you earn on the average sale you make when you go to one of those appointments and close the sale. Then check out your closing average, and finally look up your appointment setting average.
For this example, let us say that you find that when you close a sale you make a commission of £500 on the average. Also, you see that it takes you five appointments to close one sale; a 20% closing average. Well, if it takes you five appointments to close one sale and on that one sale you earn £500 then you effectively earn £100 or 20% (1/5th) on each and every appointment you attempt to close. Of course these fractions add up until they make one complete sale and you get the £500, but you must understand that you effectively EARN one fifth or 20% on EVERY appointment, regardless of the outcome of that individual appointment!
Now take that a step further: Let’s say you find that it also takes you five prospecting calls on the telephone to set each appointment. And you earn £100 for each appointment. Then you actually earn £20 for every decision maker (DM) you talk to on the telephone regardless of what they say!
Imagine this: As the sales person in the above example, you earn £20 every time you get the right prospect on the telephone—no matter what happens after that. I come to your office with a huge wheel barrel filled to the brim with money. As you are making your cold calls, every time you get a DM on the phone, I am going to throw £20 on your desk for you to keep!! No matter what the DM says or what happened, you get £20 to keep every time you reach the DM.
If that were happening, would you get all upset because a few people rejected you? Would you even worry about it? If the prospect told to ‘get lost’ and hung up on you, would you become depressed waste time at the water cooler? Or would you start dialing the next prospect as fast as possible?
Please understand that this is not some psychological mind game to hype you up and make you feel good. This is fact. It is science. This is how you actually earn your money. So use science to put out that emotional fire to help you see clearly.
So how do you get your head on right in the face of hard times? Take Action!
1. Set activity targets and immediate next step goals
2. Bury all evidence of your mistakes and failures
3. Pour SOS on your emotions
Originally published: 25 February, 2008