Talk to sales managers about their jobs, and chances are, you’ll hear four common “complaints” about how they perceive today’s selling climate:
1. Selling is tougher than it has ever been.
2. Selling is more competitive than it has ever been.
3. Selling is more complex than it has ever been.
4. Selling is more stressful and not as much fun as it used to be.
How true are these statements? That’s a trick question. Believe it or not, these four responses don’t always reflect the state of the economy. More often, they reflect the state of mind of the responder.
I know a group of successful sales executives who say, “Selling has become more exciting than it has ever been.” These are the top performers who make things happen. They think differently because they see things differently. They know that it takes only a small shift in perception to achieve a big shift in performance.
Managing perception is what good selling is all about. A great salesperson is able to offer the customer a new perspective on an old problem. That, in turn, leads to a shift in attitude, a shift in the customer’s decision-making process. And that leads to a shift in the salesperson’s performance curve.
Top performers seem to be more effective when it comes to managing the selling’s “inner game.” While average salespeople unconsciously allow their fears to grow, top performers consciously challenge themselves to outgrow their fears.
Top performers don’t wish for less complexity, they learn to master more complex challenges. Like mountain climbers, they know that they won’t get better by seeking out gentler slopes. They have to find new ways to master greater degrees of difficulty.
Great CEOs don’t complain about the tough competition. They revel in the challenges that confront them. They meet those challenges head-on and no holds barred. Top sales leaders don’t wish for easier customers, but they build a better process for hiring more “A” players and helping them develop greater skills.
While average sales achievers automatically think that selling is getting harder, top achievers habitually take a harder look at reality and discover new ways to make selling easier for them and more authentic and enjoyable for their customers. They relate to their customers without pretense, and they don’t wear masks that prevent people from knowing who they really are.
When there is a crisis with a customer, the top performers rely on their inner reserves to see the opportunity within the difficulty, and they use a crisis to develop a more rewarding relationship with the client. How do top performers stay calm in a crisis? They take a half a step back and tune into their zone of productive awareness.
Top performers know that we can’t change reality, but we can choose to change our perception of reality. While average achievers know this as a fact, top performers live by this fact. Top performers are always aware of the secret to high achievement: as soon as we change our perception, we change our performance.