Selling can be a really tough job, not only do you have to deal with a variety of other people, you have to be able to move yourself forward everyday. In sales it is critical to develop, improve and progress just as it is in any other department. The thing with sales is, so much of your livelihood is dependent upon your own motivation, improvement and success. There are so many different approaches to developing your sales skills and so many things to choose from. This post will talk about a few ways to train your brain to help you sell more effectively.
One of my favorite brain hacks comes from Carol Dweck at Stanford. She has been doing some really interesting studies on Mindset, including how we overcome adversity, face our fears and be more productive. This has led her to realize there are two types of mindsets you can have. The first is not what we want in sales, or any creative profession for that matter, it’s called a Fixed Mindset. This means our core beliefs revolve around our knowledge and abilities being fixed or immobile. When people with a fixed mindset run into challenges that may be tough to overcome, a lot of times they will make excuses as to why it’s not possible or why they can’t do it. These people typically avoid getting into tough situations and usually lack confidence. This is not a good quality for sellers or leaders as we face adversity and challenges every day.
The flip side of a fixed mindset is what Carol refers to as a Growth Mindset. These people typically realize that the more work they put in, the more challenges they run into, the more it will help them grow and learn. They try and push themselves outside of their comfort zone, they take risks and see what they can do to generate new experiences. In sales we run into a lot of “failures” when we don’t get the outcome we strive for, if we continually think it’s “Because I can’t do it” you will have a really hard time being successful. If we can approach the failures from this growth mindset we can learn and grow from each experience. Adopting this growth mindset approach can be challenging, but typically the most challenging issues provide the most reward. You can’t grow without leaving your comfort zone. Check out Carol’s TED talk, The Power of Believing You Can Improve.
While taking a class on Negotiation for Executives at MIT with Professor Jared Curhan, he brought up some tactics that align really well with a growth mindset. In this intensive course he spoke many times about negotiation, being a skill that we develop overtime. Some people may start out more naturally predisposed to being a good seller, but this doesn’t matter because you can learn and improve. In the course there were a few mock negotiations and scenarios along with a lot of other information on why people buy, the decisions they make and how to move more effectively to a mutually agreeable solution. One of the biggest takeaways I had from this class was very simple. Prof. Curhan said, “After every call/discussion/negotiation, ask yourself ‘What went well?’ and then ‘What could I have done better?’” Keep the list to a few items, which will make it more powerful. By asking yourself these two simple questions every time, it will help condition your brain to realize that sales/negotiation is a skill and any of us can continually improve. By taking one to two minutes after every call, it will help you appreciate the things you’re good at. There is always some sort of positive learning from the call, but more often than not, the best learning comes from the challenges or failures. See what you can learn from what could’ve gone better. From there you have an action plan on where to focus on your next call.
Both of these tactics help us train our brain to respond more effectively to challenges. Because, we can now treat every opportunity, good, or bad as an opportunity to learn and improve. Therefore, failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a really great opportunity to learn and pick yourself back up and apply your learning to the next opportunity so you are better. If you improve 1% every day for a year, that’s not just 365% improvement because you will be growing like compound interest.
What are some ways you can use each call, meeting, email, opportunity to improve? What tricks do you use for yourselves?