‘You Might Be Thinking’ blog series: 1.1. Sales and Resiliency


 “Our salespeople aren’t succeeding because they always seem to look at the negative side of situations first.”

Why this might be happening:

Your salespeople are competing in a world in which their value proposition is changing before their eyes.

Products and services similar to yours are most likely available from other sources, customers are well informed and can comparison-shop from their personal devices if they want, and many traditional competitive advantages, like personal service, are evaporating.

At the same time, your company may be going through internal changes. Perhaps you’re releasing many new products and services in rapid succession and salespeople don’t have time to fully understand each one enough to capably present its features and benefits. Maybe you’re updating your sales process, or asking people in non-sales roles to take a more active part in it.

Any of these kinds of challenges can diminish a salesperson’s confidence level and motivation, and therefore his or her effectiveness.

What’s behind their behavior:

All of us are affected by cognitive biases—errors in thinking that lead to mistakes and bad decisions. This happens because over time our brains become “lazy,” or passive instead of active, misinterpreting reality and perceiving threats where none exist. We develop habits so we don’t have to expend too much energy thinking about what we’re doing. This is easy on our brains, but the side effect is that we often make mistakes and bad decisions without realizing it.

One of the strongest biases that can affect salespeople is the negativity bias. Humans are hard-wired to focus on negative instead of positive things. This happens automatically, below our level of awareness, and it affects everyone.

How to change their mindset and behavior:

Your salespeople need to learn “Resilient Selling.”

Most salespeople have learned some degree of “resiliency” or they probably wouldn’t be in sales to begin with. They’re accustomed to handling rejection or a experiencing “a bad month.” But a new level of resiliency is needed, requiring a mindset shift in order to recognize the negativity bias in themselves and customers, and learn ways to overcome it. This helps them better manage today’s educated customers, navigate internal challenges and skillfully promote products that might be new and unfamiliar. Resilient salespeople succeed by viewing these challenges not as obstacles but as opportunities.

Resiliency training from TRACOM can help salespeople succeed by showing them how to step beyond their biases to see the changing world of sales as a series of opportunities rather than obstacles. It works by helping them recognize and overcome their negativity bias. They do this by challenging their automatic negative thoughts and finding more productive ways to think and act during trying times. This alters their mindset and behavior, helping them to maintain a sense of control over events.

Since customers are prone to the same biases as salespeople, the training also helps salespeople learn how to surface obstacles that customers might have—even if they can’t be seen—in order to address concerns before they impede the sale. Ironically, these obstacles are often based on that same negativity bias affecting the salesperson.

This course shows salespeople strategies they can use to help them become more resilient in times of increased customer and internal demands.

An Example from Our Training:

Gratitude is one of the easiest positive emotions to develop, and researchers have found that it has strong benefits.

One important strategy for enhancing resilience outlined in our training is called “developing gratitude.” This exercise helps salespeople counteract their negative emotions by intervening on an emotional level. It’s about allowing yourself to feel genuine appreciation for a person or thing in your life in order to transform the stress response.

In one study, participants wrote down five things they were grateful for each week, for 10 weeks. At the end of the study this group was 25 percent happier than a control group who simply listed five events from the week. The positive effects of gratitude are strong and can last for a long time.

In another study, participants wrote down three things that went well each day for a week, along with what led to these things going so well. This simple intervention increased the participants’ happiness and actually decreased their depressive symptoms for six months.

Showing gratitude helps salespeople build several resiliency elements, including “realistic optimism” and “self-composure,” two characteristics often found in successful salespeople.

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