In a recent post on LinkedIn, I noted that accounting managers rarely ask people for advice on motivating their accounts payable people. Several readers responded that accounts payable clerks need not deal with the rejection encountered by salespeople. One person piled on and said salespeople face rejection 75 percent of the time.
In a separate post, I wrote that you are not being rejected when your prospective client refuses a meeting request or decides your competitor is a better fit. If you believe these things are rejection, you need to improve your sales mindset.
When I was 17, my girlfriend Jennifer broke up with me. She wanted me to know the reason she was moving on. She told me I was a loser, and that I would always be a loser. She added that her mom also believed I was a loser, and so did her two sisters. (I am sure her brother was okay with me.) From her perspective, her assessment of my trajectory was fair. That is what rejection looks like. It’s personal.
So far, I have yet to find a single salesperson who called a client only to hear them say, "I would take a meeting with anybody but you, Jimmy Valentine," before hanging up in their face. The few grouchy people you bump into in sales have nothing to do with you. They have low blood sugar or constipation or some other malady that causes their poor mood. They might also be dehydrated and had a poor night's sleep. Either way, not of this will bother you if you have the right sales mindset.
Sales Mindset 1: I Am Rejection Proof
I was desensitized to any rejection by making hundreds of cold calls (and by Jennifer). This is the only way to overcome sales call reluctance. The sales mindset to use to overcome any sensitivity to rejection is to think of it as feedback. When you make a cold call, the client who says no to a meeting is telling you that, from their perspective, you did not give offer them a good value proposition. It's not fatal, nor is it final. You can always try again later.
The way you frame any experience provides its meaning. Your sales mindset should frame the experience as an opportunity to learn something before you give it another go.
Sales Mindset 2: I Know How to Lose
The great boxer Floyd Mayweather won 49 boxing matches in his career. He is still undefeated (even if Oscar De le Hoya beat him). You are not likely to have a record nearly as clean as no one goes undefeated in sales.
A powerful sales mindset interprets an "L" as a lesson, not a loss. It could sting a little to lose a deal you believed was right for you, especially if you performed well, but you can lose anything that wasn't already yours. If you stack up a bunch of L's over time, collect the lessons, not the losses.
Sales Mindset 3: I Create Value
One of the most positive beliefs you can instill is that you create value for your prospective clients, whether they are decision-makers or other stakeholders. This is part intention, part mindset, and a large part execution of the sales conversation. The successful salesperson believes it is their job to help their client improve their results. But to do that, one needs to provide the client with the information that would inform their decision. We call this being One-Up.
The confidence that comes from knowing you can and will help your contacts with the outcomes they are pursuing makes it easy for prospective clients to prefer you over a competitor unable to create the right type of value.
Sales Mindset 4: I Am Productive
The role of a salesperson requires discipline, initiative, and resourcefulness. Because you have more autonomy than other roles in business, you must do your work with no real supervision on a day-to-day basis. Your results are your own, and my results belong to me alone. This sales mindset requires you to believe you must be productive with your time, attention, and energy.
Being productive with your time means knowing that the clock is always ticking away, whether you do nothing, bang through a long list of calls, or meet with your prospective clients.
Sales Mindset 5: I Contribute
One of the reasons some people love working in sales is because it provides the opportunity to contribute by helping themselves, their families, their clients, and their company. Salespeople also help drive the economy.
Salespeople help their clients by being business advisors and helping them with improvements they would not be able to generate otherwise. It feels good to help a client and improve their business. Most of us want our work to provide meaning and purpose, and sales can offer both if you have the right mindset. This mindset means ignoring the negative, pessimistic, skeptical, cynical people with sales titles who don't seem to find anything more than a paycheck, one smaller than it might have been if they had a better sales mindset.
A List of Other Sales Mindsets
We can add other mindset elements to this list, including optimism, empowerment, and future orientation. The mindset for sales must include curiosity and a desire to learn and understand. Because you have some amount of conflict, you cannot be conflict-averse, something you need to temper with a large dose of diplomacy. Many of these character traits have a greater impact on your results than the many skills and competencies required for professional selling.
Developing your sales mindset will improve your effectiveness and your results. By constantly paying attention to your self-talk and working to look at things objectively, the better you will do in B2B sales in a time of great uncertainty.