Pathways to the Sale

The wise teacher leads you to the threshold of your own mind (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)

The Expectation of Making the Sale

In the three articles that preceded this one (see the links at the bottom of this page), I attempted to link a salesperson's performance (or lack thereof) to his/her internal programming. I also stated my belief that the behavior patterns that have root in the Sympathetic component of our Central Nervous System are likely at the source. In this article, I will try to elucidate on those concepts. To start off with, one of my favorite books on selling techniques is Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale. It is a book filled with gems that can be implemented immediately in the sales trenches and it also allows the intellectual reader to run off with Zig's theories in all kinds of creative directions—all that is required is a little imagination. On page 19, for example, Zig tells us to be optimistic about our prospective customers' ability to handle the purchase. The moment I read it, that phrase hit home with me for reasons that I will outline below. First, however, let me note that Zig goes on to state that the salesperson's expectancy has a direct bearing on the customer's decision in 'many, many cases'. Furthermore, virtually every salesperson, at one time or another, has heard of the importance of entering every selling situation with the positive expectancy of making the sale. In my case, I need to admit that there was a time early in my career when I used to resist this notion. It simply did not fit with the person I was at the time—and that is the key phrase: at the time. In other words, success is something that we sometimes need to grow into; and this, of course, entails some evolving on the part of the sales rep, both in terms of ability and thinking. The speed at which this all takes place will depend on several factors, not the least of which is talent and the ability to adapt (sounds a bit like Social Darwinism, doesn't it?). Nonetheless, I know from experience that all of us have the ability to adapt to levels that will yield results we never thought we had in us. Hence, I reiterate my assertion that a sales rep can grow into a more productive salesperson.

One of the wonders of the Selling Profession (although not often voiced in these terms) is that it gives us the opportunity to evolve into exactly the person we would like to be, thereby allowing many personality types to flourish in its employ. In my case, for example, the moment I realized that the person inside my selling persona was not making as many sales as the person inside my head (and ego) would have liked, I accepted the fact that I might need to evolve into a different salesperson if I wanted to remain in this profession. Since leaving the profession was not acceptable to me, I committed to allowing new perspectives into my thoughts and to eliminate any damaging habits that could hinder my ability to build a successful career. From a psychological perspective, this push–pull between desire and reality can be a powerful motivator and, the moment that conflict found its way to me, I revisited something I had read in the works of the psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer; namely, if you don't like the person you've been up to this point in time then you no longer have to be that person from this moment onward—or words to that effect. Think about that for a minute! Isn't it an exciting thought? It basically suggests that we can become better at what we do if we take the steps required to get us there. In essence, it tells us that we can reprogram ourselves for a better outcome. And this, of course, ensures that we do not continue to do the same old things we have been doing so that we do not continue to get the same old results we have been getting. More importantly, it tells us that barriers are artificially imposed. In other words, our limitations are set either by ourselves or by people whom we allow to have power over us. My take home from Dr. Dyer's words is that the moment we decide we don't want those barriers is also the moment we become unshackled to fulfill our potential—which is always far loftier than we were convinced it was. And I think this is the point Zig Ziglar was trying to make in the above–noted quote. I subsequently began devouring the literature on Cognitive Psychology and I grew to appreciate the impact that cognitive psychotherapists have in bringing about positive changes in their clients by enabling them to change their cognitions. In my previous article, entitled Behind the Sales Encounter, I illustrate this point by referring to professional athletes (golfers, for example) who work with a sports psychologist in order to achieve the desired result.

Once we as salespeople accept that we have more power over our performance than we realize, I believe Zig's assertion takes on a special significance. Namely, expecting to get the sale is a state of mind that speaks to our core personality and that expectancy will get us a lot more sales than we thought we were capable of getting. Under my academic hat, I have spent a great deal of time studying this phenomenon and I have experimented with it in my own career. My conclusion is that our expectation of success or of failure (which is often a self–fulfilling prophecy) in a particular situation or circumstance is linked to the host of factors that define who we are (e.g. our upbringing, our formative experiences, our self-perception, etc.) and, in a selling situation, I feel very strongly that these traits play themselves out in response to impulses that have their origin in our Sympathetic Nervous System, with perhaps the fight or flight response to those situations being the most important (as alluded to in Behind the Sales Encounter). A detailed summary of my views on this dynamic can be found in my electronic e-book Pathways to Sold: The Science Behind the Sale, which is available through Amazon Kindle.

Until next time ... Happy Selling!

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