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posted: 3/13/2017 1:00 AM

It's time to take a personal inventory

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  • BILL BARTLETT

    BILL BARTLETT

 
 

All salespeople have internal wiring at play that either drives or inhibits their success. Once the psychology behind it is understood, the choice can be made to change it, if soft-wired, or deal with it daily, if hard-wired. Either way, knowledge attained from a personal inventory can be empowering and provide a salesperson with options never-before imagined.

I perform some of my best research in local coffee shops as they represent the salesperson's new meeting ground. It's not unusual to find people, normally with laptops open and cellphones vibrating, conducting business with their customers and prospects. I admit that my curiosity always gets the best of me and I often eavesdrop on many of the conversations while pretending to be immersed in a good book! (Please don't think less of me; remember it's research!)

During one of my recent research sessions I overheard a manager conversing with a salesperson about his lack of performance.

She was visibly frustrated with him and recounted all the ways in which she had supported him by providing training, coaching and finally observing sales calls to witness him in action. Additionally, she reminded him that she provided "windshield feedback" after each of his calls, communicating specific examples of areas needing improvement. She then intensely exclaimed, "I don't know what else to do and have decided to put you on a 30-day performance improvement plan. If you don't meet its conditions, you will be terminated!" With that, she got up and left in a huff. As it was abundantly clear the salesperson felt dejected, I leaned over and offered to buy him a fresh cup of coffee. He agreed once I explained I had overheard his conversation and might be able to help.

For the next hour, we talked about his sales career and the stumbling blocks he has continually encountered throughout his tenure.

I could see there was a clear pattern operating that had very little to do with his talent. As he elaborated, I felt there were seemingly invisible psychological factors at work below the surface that held him hostage and kept him from achieving success. He seemed to be highly ambitious with a strong drive to succeed, yet, something was missing. I use a behavioral assessment tool with all my training and coaching clients and decided I would offer him the opportunity to initially take it without charge. If he found value in the information he received, then and only then would he pay for it. He eagerly agreed and came to my office the following day to take the evaluation. The results came as no surprise to me at all as they painted the picture I anticipated.

Unfortunately, he tested as possessing all five of the "killer" weaknesses that drastically inhibit success and his working harder on improving skills was not the answer. The first and most "deadly" among them was his "need for approval;" the desire to be liked by prospects and fear of their disapproval.

The second was his "outlook;" specifically, his view of the business world was bleak because he was not succeeding. He anticipated every encounter to take a negative turn and it became a self-fulfilling prophesy! The third weakness was "emotional composure;" he had become a slave to the emotional reactions, both high and low, of any prospect with whom he interacted.

The fourth was the "fear of rejection;" his score reflected an inability to deal with a NO response which often leads to being vulnerable to a prospect's manipulative tactics. The final "killer" weakness was his "ego;" his "confidence in self" factor was severely compromised which prevented him from executing more effective, uncomfortable strategies and tactics.

I highly recommend a yearly, objective review of these killer weaknesses if your struggling to achieve sales goals. Skill training is not always enough to change results, especially if there are internal roadblocks. Go conquer your worlds.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. bbartlett@sandler.com. Text "SalesTip" to 71813 to receive Bill's bi-weekly newsletter.