What are the steps in developing a sales mindset?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you cant, you’re probably right” – Henry Ford
This famous quote sums up nicely the impact that our mindset can have on our day-to-day interactions, and especially on key situations such as sales calls, pitches, and building relationships with customers.
The premise of the quote is that if you go into a situation thinking it will go badly then you are increasing your chances of this happening. Similarly, if you go into the situation thinking it will go well you are increasing the chances of this happening.
But what is mindset?
Mindset is that it is the inner dialogue that we all have when we are faced with any situation.
A good way of thinking about mindset (or your Sales Mindset) is that it is the inner dialogue that we all have when we are faced with any situation from picking up the phone to call a customer, to answering the phone when a customer calls, to walking into the customer’s office to give a presentation, to replying to a complaint via email and many more.
Interestingly you are highly likely to be experiencing this right now. If you are thinking “this is really interesting” or possibly “this is nonsense”, whatever that inner dialogue is saying will have a potential impact on the benefit you get from reading it. Let’s go into a deeper dive.
Positive Thought Re-alignment
What you say to yourself influences what you feel which alters what you do.
If you want to change what you do, modify what you feel, by altering what you say to yourself.
Imagine you are about to make a sales call to an existing customer. You have done some business in the past with the customer but know there is potential to do much more. It is a really important call, and you have done all your preparation. What could go wrong?
Despite all the preparation you’ve done your inner dialogue is saying things like: “she was quite aggressive last time we spoke”; “I didn’t enjoy that last meeting”; “I don’t think she wants to do more business with us”; “Mike and Carolyn both said she was impossible to sell to”; “I’m not sure I’m the right person to make this call”; “she never has time to talk”.
With this internal dialogue, you are basically telling yourself that it is going to be a difficult call with no business at the end of it. Remembering that what you say influences what you feel, this is likely to make you feel worried, nervous, frustrated, and undermine your confidence.
The output of this is that you won’t be the best version of yourself on the call. Your brain will be looking for things the customer does and says that back up your inner dialogue, so when she says that she only has a few minutes to speak now or throws in a perfectly valid objection, you tell yourself you were right to have those pre-call thoughts. Unfortunately, this is likely to mean that you create a self-fulfilling prophecy by not making the right impact, not selling the benefits of talking to you, and not using your skills to overcome those objections. Your inner dialogue has told you that the call will be unsuccessful, and your behaviours have helped get to that outcome. You put the phone down, sit back in your chair, and say “I knew she would be a difficult call”.
It doesn’t have to play out like that. There aren’t many things in the sales process that you can directly control, but your mindset is one of them. You are 100% in control of how you respond to things, no matter how difficult and challenging situations and people may appear to be, so why not make this work for you?
You need to find a way of changing the narrative inside your head. If you do this you will change the way you are feeling about the person or situation, and this will change what you do. You will increase your chances of creating a positive impact; you will increase the chances of selling the benefits of talking to you; you will increase the chances of overcoming objections; and increase the chances of creating a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. So how do you do this?
Instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, try turning them into positives or at least opportunities:
Negative Inner Dialogue
“She was quite aggressive last time we spoke”
“I didn’t enjoy that last meeting”
“I don’t think she wants to do more business with us”
“Mike and Carolyn both said she was impossible to sell to”
“I’m not sure I’m the right person to make this call”
“She never has time to talk”
Positive Inner Dialogue
“She knows what she wants, and I can tailor my questions around that”
“That last meeting was difficult. What can I do differently next time to make it better”?
“I’m going to show her that she needs to do more business with us”
“I’m different to Mike and Carolyn. Just because they can’t doesn’t mean I can’t”
“I know the customer and I know my stuff. I am definitely the right person to make this call”
“She is a busy lady so I need to show her straight away that I can help her”
Sometimes it may seem impossible to do this, but remember you are 100% in control of this self-talk and the way you react to situations and people. You can’t control what the other person does, but you can certainly influence their behaviour by what you do and say and how you do it.
A top tip is to build this kind of mental preparation into the normal preparation you do before a sales call or a pitch. If you notice any negativity creeping into your self-talk, find a way to switch it around before you pick up the phone, dial in online, or walk into the presentation room.
Visualising Success and Anchoring
More and more people are turning to a more formal process to get them in the right mindset before going into a key situation such as a sales meeting, sales pitch, presentation, job interview, appraisal meeting for example. This process is well established in the world of sport and has become more and more popular in the world of business over the last 20 years or so.
The idea behind visualising success is to take yourself back to a time when you were at your best in whatever it is you are preparing for. This could be your best sales call; your best pitch; your best job interview; your best project meeting etc.
Do this now. Think back to a time when you were at your best, and then really engage your senses to make this come alive for you:
- Who was in the meeting with you?
- What did they look like?
- What were they wearing?
- What was the room like (or what was the background like if it was a virtual call)?
- What was their body language like throughout the meeting?
- What was their reaction like at the end?
- What was the other person saying?
- What language did they use?
- How did they say the words?
- What was their vocal tone?
- How did they sound at the end?
- What other noises could you hear (traffic, people, animals, clock ticking)?
- How were you feeling during the meeting?
- What were your emotions?
- How were you feeling at the end?
- How do you the other person was feeling throughout and at the end?
- What was the temperature like in the room?
- What was the feel of the desk/chair?
Smell & Taste
- Were there any smells and tastes associated with the situation: coffee/bread/pastry/fruit/water etc?
This should fill you with positive energy and your inner dialogue should be telling you that you can rather than you can’t. The way the brain works, you’re now in the best possible place for your mindset to back up all the other preparation you have done ahead of the call, pitch, presentation. Interview, appraisal etc.
Some people are very good at making this process work for them; others may need a little help. Sometimes a trigger, or an anchor, as we call it, is needed to start the visualization process, something that automatically switches you into that positive mindset space. Anchors are very personal and can typically be visual: pictures or photos of family, friends, holiday destinations; hearing: sounds; a favourite music track, family voices, inspirational vocals; or feeling: an object, a favourite pen, a memento from a wonderful experience, anything that’s really important to you.
The idea behind anchoring is that when your visualization is at its height, its most vivid, and its most powerful, you anchor it to the picture, the sound, the music, the object, whatever works for you so that it becomes natural and strongly associated with it. When you see, hear, or feel your anchor it then automatically sets off your powerful visualisation process and helps promote that positive mindset.
So, in summary, when you’re heading into that key situation that is challenging your mindset you need to:
- Reach for your anchor which should automatically start the visualisation process.
- Take yourself back to the time when you were at your best.
- Relive the sights, sounds, and feelings you had when you were at your very best.
Your mindset (or Sales Mindset) should now be at its most positive ahead of the situation and be in a great place to back up all the other preparation that you have done.
I’m going to tweak Henry Ford’s quote a little bit. Because you can only control your attitude and behaviour there is no 100% guarantee that visualisation and anchoring will make you successful. What they will do is ensure that you are the best version of yourself going into the situation, and that must give you a better chance of success. So, my version of the Ford quote has always been
If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right
I have been a Facilitator for over 20 years but still get nervous before every single training session I run. I am also prone to the negative inner dialogue: “what if the group doesn’t like me”, “what if they are a difficult group”, “what if they don’t like the material”, “what if I can’t answer their questions”, “what if the technology doesn’t work”, and so on.
I have a routine that I do before every session. I always get into the training room, or log into the virtual session well before we are due to start. I sit there and think about how I want the session to end and play some music, Adele Set Fire to the Rain. As soon as the opening piano notes start the hairs on the back of my arms stand up and I am immediately transported back to 2011 and my first ever overseas trip to run training courses.
I remember being very nervous on the flight out but the 2 weeks that I spent there turned into a fantastic experience. I really liked all the participants that I trained in 3 different parts of the company, and they seemed to really like me. The training was well received with applause at the end of each of the sessions.
This is a time I would definitely pick as some of the best training I have developed, and I used to start the day with Set Fire to the Rain. It became the anthem of my little tour, and my anchor ever since.
Developing a Sales Mindset written by Peter Giles