Q. As we approach the start of the new year, I am working with my sales representatives to help them set some personal goals and develop a plan for attaining them. However, I get the impression that several of my reps dont really believe that they can accomplish these goals. What can I do about it?
A. If your sales reps dont believe they can actually do something, I can guarantee they wont do it. Its like Henry Ford once said: One person believes they can, while the other believes that they cant and they are both right. Those who dont believe wont do it. Their attitudes and beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Our beliefs form the foundation for everything we accomplish. These beliefs cause us to make certain judgments. These judgments, in turn, compel us to act in a certain way. And our actions, based on these judgments, generally deliver results that simply reinforce our original beliefs. I call these beliefs your record collection.
For instance, I once worked with a firm that sells a commodity product to the steel industry. We all know what has happened to the steel industry in this area over the last 15 years. The four salespeople working at the time I began to work with them had all been with the company for a long time, and had witnessed the decline in the steel industry firsthand. As a result, they had come to believe that there wasnt a lot of new business left for their company within the steel industry.
Their results reflected this. For the previous five years, the cumulative sales of these four reps were stagnant.
Soon after I came along, the company hired a young sales rep who was new to the area as well as to the industry. Her managers instructed her to focus her efforts on the steel industry because they believed there was a lot of untapped potential in this market. The company also had her work out of her home so that she would have as little contact as possible with the other four sales reps. They isolated her from the others, of course, so that she wouldnt be poisoned by the negative, nonsupportive beliefs of the four old-timers.
The results were astounding. In her first nine months on the job, she sold 60 percent more new business to the steel industry than the other four sales reps combined. She just didnt know there wasnt a lot of new business left in the steel industry.
If you are looking for different results, you must first change the nonsupportive, self-limiting beliefs that undermine your staffs ability to achieve results. Heres how you do it:
- Analyze their record collections to determine how and to what degree a particular belief is nonsupportive.
- Rewrite their records in a positive way so that, if practiced, you will get the desired outcome.
- Define the behavior that would be practiced by someone with the appropriate supportive belief.
- Have your reps adopt the new behavior regardless of how you feel about it or what you actually believe. Make what they believe a function of how they act, instead of the other way around. In other words, Fake it till you make it.
- Measure their results and track them on a daily basis. This helps your reps see it so that they will believe it.
- Have the reps reinforce the new behaviors and attitudes that support them daily in a journal.
Remember: Make sure your reps maintain that behavior regardless of how uncomfortable they may feel in the beginning. Positive affirmations alone will not be enough to change their beliefs. Dont let the way they feel determine the way they act. Let the way they act determine the way they feel. Youll be astounded by the results.
Larry Lewis is president of Total Development Inc., a Pittsburgh-based sales training and consulting firm. Send your comments and questions to him via fax at (724) 933-9112 or e-mail at email@example.com. He can be reached by phone at (724) 933-9110.