Optimism is a philosophy. It’s the belief that things will work out for the best, regardless of how the situation looks today. Optimism is a personal choice to view things positively. It’s your attitude. It’s personal. It’s a choice.
Optimism is a foundational success skill for sales people.
A Salesperson Has To Believe
Imagine a job in which part of the way that you create value is by acquiring new customers. Imagine a job where your role is creating value for these prospective customers by providing them with your company’s products or services, helping them with their problems and challenges, and helping to make massive improvements that make them more competitive in their space. Imagine leading and managing that value creation process.
That sounds like an awesome job, and we call it B2B sales!
But what if all of your dream clients already had a provider of your product or services? What if instead of greeting you and your offerings with open arms, your first response from these prospective customers was almost always a resounding no? What if I added the additional duty of continuing to call and develop these prospective customers even when the chance for acquiring some of them was relatively low–and in some cases non-existent?
Would you pick up the phone and dial the next prospect if you believed it wouldn’t make a difference? Would you again (and again) call the prospect that has already told you no so many times that you have lost count?
A salesperson has to believe.
Optimism is what allows you to continue. It allows you to believe that you can make a difference. It underpins your belief that the next call will be the call that moves the chains. It allows you to believe that–eventually–something will change for the prospective client that change will result in your gaining an opportunity. It allows you to believe that you can create enough value to change your dream client’s mind.
Optimism allows you to draw on your resourcefulness to overcome obstacles and roadblocks, instead of deciding not to try.
To test an idea, sometimes it is helpful to examine its opposite. How well would pessimism work as the philosophical outlook for salespeople?
If you were pessimistic, would you be inspired to pick up the phone and dial the prospect that has told you no for two years? Would your pessimism allow you to pursue your dream accounts, knowing that they have a long relationship with one of your fiercest competitors? Would your pessimism allow you to believe that you can and will succeed in finding a way to create value for your company and your customer?
It wouldn’t, and it won’t. Pessimism is detrimental to your success, particularly in sales.
There Is No Middle Way
I know that some people prefer to consider themselves realists. They believe that this occupies some middle ground between optimism and pessimism. They believe that it is right to explore everything that may go wrong, and to question whether or not the outcome can be as positive as they hope, lest they be disappointed.
There is no middle way. This realist approach is simply a fear of embracing optimism. It’s pessimism in a thin disguise.
Is it fair to explore potential negative outcomes? Of course it is. But it is only fair to explore the potential negative outcomes with a firm goal and the intention of changing something to ensure that the positive outcome you need is achieved. The exploration of what may go wrong cannot be allowed to paralyze you into inaction, and it cannot be allowed to destroy the optimistic belief that you can and will achieve a positive outcome.
A salesperson has to be optimistic. They have to believe they can win against even the longest of odds. Salespeople have to believe that things will work out in their favor. This optimistic belief is what allows a salesperson to take action, and those actions are what eventually leads to success.
Are the best salespeople around me optimistic or pessimistic?
Which choice am I making?
How would choosing to be optimistic help me with my personal sales?