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Matt is a sales manager with a computer software company. His salespeople have the responsibilities of generating new business by making "cold calls" and following up on leads from potential customers who respond to inquiries that his company receives. Besides making sure that his salespeople can answer any questions about their products, Matt has also trained them in the traditional practices of how to communicate with potential customers, how to get them to realize how his company's products will make their jobs simpler and more efficient, and how to close a deal. But Matt is befuddled at the poor sales success rates of his people. Are there other training techniques that can dramatically improve their performance?
Yes! Traditional sales training techniques ignore the biggest obstacle to sales success: Not recognizing and taking control of the Internal Critic that lingers within every salesperson, and every athlete. The internal critic is basically a habitual pattern of negative thoughts that people allow to continue unabated until they recognize that they are engaging in such thinking. Using techniques that professional sport psychologists use to help elite athletes overcome their obstacle to success works the same wonders on salespeople.
Here are a few tips that you can use with your salespeople immediately:
Teach them to understand the warning signs of their "Internal Critic" at work.
Self-talk will either make you successful or will lead to disappointment. So often, people unconsciously use self-limiting thoughts, which prevent them from being successful. Examples of negative, pessimistic self-talk phrases, are: "What if …," "I hope I don't…" I should have said…" "The client won't like me if…" "I always have problems with…"I probably won't be able to close this sale," or "I can't believe how stupid I was to say that…"
Negative, pessimistic messages that people allow to pass through their minds immediately lead to muscle tightening throughout the body. More rapid breathing and often perspiring accompany this tightening. Consequently, these physiological responses are perceived as "stress" and you can read that all over the face and body language of the salesperson (or athlete, for example). salespeople can practice catching themselves when these types of negative thoughts go through their minds and they can make a fist (out of view of the prospective customer), which is a reminder to STOP thinking that way and to take a few relaxing breaths, release the fist, relax and proceed to think positively and optimistically.
There is an old saying that "What you believe, you can achieve." Internal self-talk leads to beliefs (either positive or negative) and beliefs lead to the body's reactions. salespeople need to believe in their products and in their ability to show the customer why she/he needs to purchase that product today. Once salespeople believe in themselves and their products, they are in a much better position to achieve sales success.
Suggest that they give themselves positive affirmations each day.
Positive affirmations are positive, optimistic thoughts about your sales success as if it is happening today, right now. Since our subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between something real or imagined (for example, visualize yourself biting into a tart lemon and see what your mind tells your salivary glands to do), when you give yourself positive affirmations and imagine they these things are happening right now, your subconscious mind wants to make them happen for you. Here are examples of positive affirmations for salespeople: "I know my products and I will show my customers how these products are perfect for their situation," I know how to treat people so they will be open to my suggestions," My self-confidence as a salesperson grows each day," I see myself breaking my sales records each month."
Make a list of at least 10 positive affirmations to say each morning upon arising and each evening when retiring. Say each one 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening, breathing slowly and visualizing the each affirmation happening now.
Encourage them to visualize sales success before approaching the potential customer.
Your subconscious minds take orders from you without judging success or failure. As noted above, internal dialogue and beliefs are one means of directing your subconscious mind. Another powerful technique for directing the subconscious mind is actually visualizing success. Professional golfers, for example, who visualize each shot before they make it find a tremendous similarity between their vision of that shot and the subsequent shot that they make.
Tell your people to visualize themselves preparing for the sales call, gathering their materials, feeling really encouraged because they know their products and feel confident as they enter the room where the pitch will take place. Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin the perfect sales presentation. They then see the customer smiling and nodding in agreement as they show him/her how much this product will help them. Finally, visualize themselves shaking hands with the client, closing the deal and writing up the order.
Show them the power of goal-setting.
People are eleven times more likely to reach a goal when they write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about the goal. Have your salespeople write down short and long-term goals that are specific and action-oriented. For example, "For this month, I will sell at least 27 widgets." Make sure the goals are realistic.
Next, have them visualize themselves feeling wonderful once they accomplish that goal. Have them imagine it as if they have already accomplished the goal. Finally, have them write down ways in which they can sabotage themselves so that they won't accomplish that goal. This is a critical way of recognizing ways they perhaps didn't realize they were undermining their success and how they will now stop that behaviour.
Using these tips will help your salespeople look at the internal barriers to their success and how to release their true talent. In short, becoming an Inner Winner leads to success every time!
About the Author:
Jack Singer, Ph.D. is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. Dr. Singer has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO's and elite athletes for 34 years. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of "The Teacher's Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide," and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem.
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