How to Break Your Mental Barriers to Increase Sales
In Demystifying the Myth of the College Dropout CEO, I wrote that there are many marketers out there but not enough salespeople. This is despite the fact that selling is a very important skill that everyone will need at some point in their lives. You might need to sell your skills to a potential employer, or sell your company to a potential investor, or sell your product to a potential customer.
Even if you’re employed in a non-sales position, you’d notice you spend some of your time selling because in a more generic sense, you can think of selling as persuading, influencing or moving people. As Dan Pink explains in his book, To Sell is Human, there’s more to the conventional view of economics than just producing and consuming. He writes, “There’s also moving where we move others to part with resources so we both get what we want.”
So if selling sits within the heart of the economic engine, and our youth don’t know how to sell, what chance does our economy have to not just survive but also thrive?
We also can’t blame them for not being good salespeople because selling is one of those skills that cannot be honed during a 3 hour seminar.
It takes a lot of experience.
Actually, let me rephrase that.
It takes a lot of bad experience to be any good.
When you’re trying to sell anything, chances are high you’re going to face a myriad of rejections. That’s why it’s important to build the required mental fortitude to inoculate yourself from the negative feelings that come as part of the process.
The first thing is to build your self-confidence. Many people think you’re either born self-confident or not. But having self-confidence simply means believing in yourself enough to be willing to try. It does not guarantee success. It just pushes you to take that first step.
Sadly, many do not take that first step because mentally, you’re more focused on the embarrassment related to failure than the potential good that might come from success. The human brain is wired to have a negativity bias, which refers to the idea that unpleasant thoughts, emotions or social interactions have a greater impact on one’s psychological state than positive experiences. As stated here, some authors state that it takes five good events to overcome the psychological effects of a bad one. So before taking any step, change your mindset by keeping a balanced view that your attempt at selling could work or it could not, and you are going to be fine regardless of the outcome.
Also, change the way you view failure and rejection to begin with. Unfortunately, our educational system has entrenched in our minds that failures are inherently bad when in reality they’re simply a natural part of the process. Failures can be viewed as signposts to show you what not to do and pinpoint where you can improve your techniques.
Another thing that can help build your self-confidence is to keep an updated and accessible record of your achievements so far. This list could more generally encompass the number of projects you’ve completed and/or exceeded expectations while delivering or more specific in terms of sales where you record the number of times you were able to influence people and sell them anything [an idea, a product, a company].
Once you’ve covered your basis on how you’re going to keep your attitude buoyant and your self-esteem high through your journey, you need to go down to the field and start selling. There’s no other way around it. You just have to practice. And because it’s a numbers game, you’re going to have to do it over and over again, sometimes failing, other times succeeding, but refining your techniques until you’re successful at it.
Another thing about your practice is that it should be both continuous and deliberate. Deliberate Practice as defined in this blog post is a specific type of practice where you’re always applying your skills at the edge of your comfort zone and trying new tips and techniques with the help of a coach who can give you some feedback on your performance. Even though Deliberate Practice is more common in sports and chess, it can also be applied in business settings such as selling as long as you find a salesperson who’s more advanced than you are and who’s willing to train you.
In general, the main parts of the sales process are prospecting, pitching and closing and I’ll delve into each one of them in the next posts so keep reading.
Co-written with Amina Islam