Your internal will become your external. What you believe will manifest in your life, or as Earl Nightingale put it, "We become what we think about most of the time."

A friend in a faraway place responded to the post Three Traits to Speed Your Success. He has an interesting perspective on mindset, believing "the meta-mindset for sales is curiosity, as it solves all mindset problems." Let's set aside the fact that curiosity is also a character trait, like hunger, self-discipline, and persistence, the three I included in the post.

What You Believe Most of the Time

I once had a sales manager responsible for a very large and fast-growing territory. The sales manager was smart, attractive, well-spoken, and educated. After working for me for a few quarters, the sales manager was not doing well. When confronted with their poor results, the sales manager said, "The territory is no good, and there are no good prospects here." The next sales manager that replaced the first sales manager was excited by the opportunity to take care of the same territory. In a little less than ninety days, the new sales manager had $2,000,000 in annual revenue. The only thing different was the difference in their beliefs.

businessmans mindest

Sales isn't a profession for people with poor or disempowered mindsets. There are many roles where you may do your work without having to ask people for their time or compete against other people in your same role, all of whom are dead set on beating you, or worse, taking your clients from you. You never hear the folks in accounting complaining about how bad they feel when rejected, or the problem they have in reaching their quota of spreadsheets. There are roles where mindset isn't nearly as important in sales and leadership.

How I Discovered My Competency Model

A leader complained that their sales force wasn't effective on the telephone. He presented the lack of meetings as evidence of a lack of effectiveness. After watching and listening to them make calls, it was clear they were very good on the phone. However, they didn't make more than a couple of calls a day, preferring email instead. What was clear to anyone observing this group of salespeople was that they lacked the self-discipline to will themselves to pick up the phone and punch a set of numbers with their index fingers. I can always spot a person who makes a lot of calls, as their index finger looks like it has a bicep.

salesperson dialing the phone

There was nothing wrong with their list of prospects, their talk tracks, or their service. There were no execution problems until you realize the group of salespeople wasn't spending much time prospecting. You can never fix an activity problem with anything other than activity. After paying attention to salespeople, I noticed there were several traits I described as "Mindset" in the first half of The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need.

Why Leaders Need to Teach, Develop, and Train Mindset

Professional B2B sales roles provide more autonomy than many other jobs, and more than most people can manage. If you don't prospect today, nothing bad happens. Repeating this decision for a week isn't likely to cause anyone to bring the sales force together for an intervention, with each salesperson telling the lazy salesperson they care about them, and they need to get help. The salesperson who lacks self-discipline doesn't know they are rationalizing the decision to coast, believing they can catch up later.

One salesperson I know became the spiritual leader of his sales force by explaining to his peers why they were struggling to win deals. He explained that the company's price was too high to allow them to win deals. He had a bad attitude and his negativity metastasized inside the sales force. The root cause of the sales force's poor results was not their pricing. Instead, the losses came from responding to blind RFPs and having met no one in the conference rooms where they gave their presentations, the kind that is all "why us," delivered in twelve ways. You need a positive, optimistic, future-oriented, and empowered mindset to sell successfully.

Recently, a sales organization I engaged with sent me multiple emails to accelerate my signing of their contract. This group was trying to meet their goals and said as much. It's the nature of their industry to have aggressive goals and to be more self-oriented than some other industries. The self-orientation projects that the deal is more about the salesperson meeting their goals than the client achieving the better results they need.

Leaders need to teach their sales force to have a mindset that allows them to succeed. Good leaders are good teachers, and one way they teach mindset is by modeling it themselves. Many problems generating net new revenue stem from mindset issues, and there are dozens of poor beliefs and undeveloped traits that make sales more difficult.

Coaching is critical, as it helps an individual make the behavioral changes that would improve their performance. But the root cause of the ineffective behaviors is the beliefs or the mindset. It's difficult to remove and replace long-held beliefs and replace them with the better beliefs that would allow for behavioral change. Your prospecting problem may be a self-discipline problem, but it might also be a problem of initiative. A single negative person can flip enough people to ruin your sales force.

In The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need, I started with success requiring the right mindset, skillset, and tool kits. The skillsets and the tool kits are worthless without the right mindset.

Sales Manager Challenge

Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 5, 2022
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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