A panel of sales leaders from around the world were seated up front at a Selling Power Sales Leadership Conference this year. Selling Power Magazine founder and publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner asked what the number one trait when seeking a good sales professonal would be – the answer both surprised me and didn’t surprise me – it was optimism.
It surprised me in that everything these high-end sales leaders, who have each led teams of tens of thousands of sales professionals have done, it all nets down to this one top trait – and they all agreed. It didn’t surprise me in that I have studied sales effectiveness for years and know this is a key contributor to a seller’s success.
Yes, optimism. That trait some of us have rolled our eyes over and minimized its’ importance. Businesses pour money into product feature training and drill sales reps on the features and facts of the items they sell. Many of us think of The Power Of Positive Thinking, written by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, first published in 1958 – it all seems so old school, doesn’t it?
Rather than optimism, I like to think about being asset-based (as oposed to deficit-based) when it comes to thinking. These are terms coined in the book, Change the Way You See Everything, by Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak. It is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it in my top ten of helfpul books for those selling their goods and services – or really for anyone. What I like about asset-based thinking is that you take a snapshot of where you are, then plan a way to get to where you want to be, which is much like coaching. We don’t need to analyze why it happened, as long as we can learn from it – we simply move forward. Rather than dwelling on all the negatives and bad self-talk, we focus on our strengths. If everyone worked this way, it would be a different world.
[Old school note: Don’t write off old school ideas – reading works of Norman Vincent Peale, and Napoleon Hill, among others, can be a fantastic way to augment your knowledge. Just try it!]
How optimistic are you? Your Summer Sales Effectiveness School homework: List five strengths for your products/services, and five strengths that you personally have. Now try for five more, each. Think of three things you can do immediately to utilize those strengths to increase your revenues and profits. Drop a note as to how you are doing – it will help others to hear how your interpretation is helping you.