There’s someone on your team who really should be making quota, but they aren’t. It’s within their reach, you think, if only they’d increase their sales activity. In fact, their low level of activity is only a symptom of the problem. And until you get to the root of the issue- their sales mindset- both of you will continue to be frustrated. You could even end up losing someone who has the potential to be a superstar.
This isn’t a new problem in sales, but it’s becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s business environment. With more companies depending on cross-selling and upselling, there are more people in non-traditional sales roles who are now expected to identify revenue opportunities and contribute in sales-related capacities. At the same time, complex sales cycles and heightened competition are putting both new salespeople and those with sales experience to the test.
No matter how dedicated people are to the job and no matter how much they care about the customer, the selling landscape has gotten tougher, quotas are declining and the pressure is intense. Across industries, sales leaders are struggling to keep morale and engagement up while they push for higher revenue, margins and market share.
To get those numbers where they need to be, managers typically focus on sales activity levels. But inevitably, they discover that “coaching” the pharma rep to make 40 calls a week instead of 25 doesn’t move the needle. Neither does giving the bank teller some tips on how to ask customers probing questions when they make their weekly deposits.
The reason managing activities and numbers doesn’t solve the problem is simple: These areas fall within the realm of “skillset,” and while skills matter, sales success is very much also a factor of mindset—of will.
Why People Struggle to Adopt a Sales Mindset
Teaching a bank teller how to ask probing questions is helpful, but if he’s uncomfortable actually taking the action—if he doesn’t have the inner will to do it—then he’s going to keep resisting.
There could be any number of reasons for that resistance. Maybe, deep down, the person fears rejection. Or maybe he feels like it would be too “salesy” or “pushy,” something that goes against everything he believes in. The bottom line is, his mindset is preventing him from doing the activities, and until you get to the root of the issue, he’s going to remain stuck. When you’re dealing with a will issue vs. a skill issue, there are many factors that will play a role in a person’s selling success, but there are five critical areas involving mindset that get to the very heart of sales performance achievement:
- View of Selling: The degree to which a person understands and believes sales to be a profession that creates value and helps people.
- View of Abilities: A person’s inner beliefs about whether they have the necessary talents and abilities to be successful in sales.
- Values: The rules or inner guidelines by which someone lives their life. Successful selling requires a consistent demonstration of integrity, sincerity and honesty in all sales interactions.
- Commitment to Activities: How diligent the person is about doing the activities that long-term sales success demands. As noted above, this is really more of a response to or outcome of the other four factors.
- Belief in Product: How passionate the person is about the products and services they’re selling and the value they personally create for customers.
If any gaps exist between these five areas, it will create inner conflict, self-doubt, disengagement and resistance. For example, someone from R&D who’s now responsible for producing revenue may have passion to spare when it comes to their belief in the product and how it creates value for the customer. But if they question whether they have the “right stuff” to be successful in sales, that lack of confidence could become a huge roadblock to reaching their full potential.
Assessing the Sales Mindsets on Your Team
It’s not uncommon to find misalignment, or “incongruence,” in one or more of these five areas, and not just among new salespeople or lagging performers. Misalignment can be part of the reason why a high performer hits a plateau. The truth is, very few salespeople are strong across all five areas.
So, how do you assess your team’s sales mindset and uncover the gaps? There are different “profiles” of misalignment, and they often manifest themselves in specific ways. In our experience, some of the most common areas of misalignment involve salespeople’s beliefs and values being out of sync.
Our white paper Selling in Sync: What to Do When Conflicting Beliefs Create a Sales Roadblock takes an in-depth look at four profiles of salespeople whose beliefs and values are out of alignment. From “Suzie the Servant” and “Johnny Quicksale” to “Gil Gunderson” and “The Tortured Soul,” these are profiles of people you’ll recognize. They’re struggling, but if they could just get out of their own way, each of them has the potential to become a sales superstar.
The paper explores the different profiles, how you can find clues to misalignment in a person’s behavior and activity, and specific steps that will help them move toward alignment. In all cases, they’ll need the support of an effective sales manager who’s committed to coaching not just on skills and numbers but also on developing a sales mindset.
Download the white paper to learn more about the signs of misalignment, what the research says about coaching’s ability to remove these common sales roadblocks and what you can do to build a winning sales mindset across your organization.
Partner and CEO
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