What’s Holding Back Your Sales?

Here’s a bit of a checklist of some psychological aspects of selling that catch us all out from time to time. I hope it might sow a few seeds as to how you can get your team closer to where you’d ideally like them to be.Here’s a bit of a checklist of some psychological aspects of selling that catch us all out from time to time. I hope it might sow a few seeds as to how you can get your team closer to where you’d ideally like them to be.

Process Pitfalls

  1. Process fatigue: It’s counter-productive to tell sales professionals what they already know they should be doing – it just increases their sense you don’t know or care what their real issues are.
    • Smart sales leadership asks their high potentials & performers what they require in order to be able to do more of what they know needs doing.
    • And really smart leadership teaches their teams about behavioural change so they can make the changes they already know are needed.
  2. Process focus rather than emotional impact focus: studies repeatedly show that the highest performing sales people (by up to 666%) are tuned in to the emotions of the prospect and focus on keeping their effect on them positive.
  3. Process that’s too complex or prescriptive to be enthusiastically deployed in reality except by a small minority.

Psychological Snares

  1. Smiling cynics can’t transition from doing OK to outstanding – cynicism can be hidden under false positivity with colleagues (to an extent), but not with prospects and customers. Furthermore cynicism/negativity inhibits performance and locks us out from our true potential.
    • Studies overwhelmingly show that it’s really smart to use positive L&D interventions to deliver positivity & optimism.
  2. Cultures are very susceptible to change from within when limiting beliefs and learned helplessness get a foothold. Cultural flaws are propagated more powerfully than cultural strengths simply because humans are more strongly impacted by negatives than positives. We are evolutionarily programmed to take positives for granted, ignoring them and saving our attention for spotting threats and things we need to solve.
    • Limiting beliefs about change and new approaches include:
      • Doesn’t work for me
      • Too complicated
      • Set in my ways
      • This year’s fad, it’ll blow over
      • Prospects don’t like it
    • Learned helplessness ditto:
      • They’re making me do this
      • Doesn’t make any difference
      • No point in trying
      • It’s not fair (yes really!)

If you suspect you have a cultural challenge of this nature you probably need to take rapid and radical action to effect a positive step change. It can be done – please see my earlier blog on culture change.

Neurological Nooses

  1. Limited bandwidth – humans can only effectively concentrate on one thought or activity at a time. Sales professionals need to be incredibly well prepared so the appropriate information (eg product or contractual) and responses are so deeply embedded in the unconscious it requires little conscious attention to bring them to mind. The salesperson is then free to concentrate on the emotional dynamics of the interaction and focus on giving the client or prospect what they need from moment to moment.
  2. Negative leadership styles can appear in even an enlightened person when the pressure is prolonged or intense. It feels natural to put people under increased pressure when targets or deadlines are at risk. And many of us have seen that negative motivation can be effective. Unfortunately this easy option is not optimal:
    • Their own excessive drive / disappointment / anxiety is probably already inducing significant stress, and it might not take much from you to tip the scales into excess
    • When stress exceeds a person’s tipping point (which differs by person) their performance diminishes – it may collapse entirely (see my blog CREAM)
    • If they know you occasionally are defeated by the pressure you are experiencing they will never fully trust your personality and may withdraw their followership
    • Finally, although negative motivation works it is (research shows) less effective than positive motivation, and importantly only delivers short term effects – positive motivation might be more time consuming to provide but it is more effective, and again importantly, has a more lasting impact.
    • The answer is to work on their – and your – resilience and positivity, which will almost certainly mean specialist intervention.

I hope this triggers some ideas and helps identify some relatively quick & easy wins.

If you would like a conversation about how to implement any of the above please get in touch.

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