As a sales professional, you probably focus each day on your product and industry knowledge, selling skills, and building your pipeline. These are all extremely important to your success. However, there is something even more critical to ensuring your long-term success in sales: your mindset!
Your mindset is a great predictor of your outcomes
One of the biggest contributors to your long-term success in sales is belief in your own capabilities. You need the—— ability to quickly reframe your thinking after a series of negative sales calls. It has been researched and proven that reliving a bad experience several times per day strengthens that circuit in the brain, making each successive memory of the experience more debilitating. When we choose to dwell on the negative and what has gone wrong, we induce a crippling negative state, which strengthens the likelihood of extended poor sales performance. When we don’t recognize this mental dynamic, we can become stuck in a downward spiral.
Positive thinking worked for Martina Navratilova; it can work for you
In a study performed at a tennis academy, researchers looked at what separated the top five professional players in the world from the next 20 ranked players. What they found is that it wasn’t their diet, training routine, coaching, or practice schedule that distinguished the best players in the world from the rest. What separated the top five from the next 20 was their thinking! In the 10–15 seconds after a poor shot, the best players quickly transitioned their thinking to things like “I love this game,” and “I didn’t get that shot, but I will get the next one”.
“The Happiness Advantage” is real!
Mindset matters! In my favorite book, The Happiness Advantage, author and Harvard researcher Shawn Achor explains the power of this advantage and how it actually works from psychological and neurological perspectives. He says that our brains perform significantly better in a positive state than in a negative, neutral, or stressed state. When you choose to be happy (YES, IT IS A CHOICE), you release dopamine into your system. Dopamine stimulates the learning centers in the brain, allowing you to learn, adapt, and improve. This is just one of the major physiological benefits of happiness.
Conversely, when you focus on the negative aspects of your experiences and performance, your brain releases the stress hormone cortisol into your system. When that happens you lose focus as your brain seeks a way to escape the pain. Science has shown that in this negative state, our working memory diminishes and we are 31 percent less productive.
When you need an “attitude adjustment,” here’s how to go about it
Shawn Achor has offered these five tips to train your brain to focus on happiness and positivity:
1. Practice gratitude: This feeling of appreciation about your good fortune (regardless of scale) has been proven to release dopamine into your system at high levels. Practicing gratitude conditions your brain to find the positive in your experiences—and most experiences do have positive takeaways. A great way to harness this power is by writing down three things you are grateful for each day.
2. Keep a daily journal: Write about a positive experience each day. Include details about what led up to the experience, how you felt about it, and how it impacted you for the minutes and hours that followed. The repetition of this activity and the re-reading of journal entries forces your brain into a prolonged positive state. Getting and remaining in this state is the result of conditioning, and journaling is a terrific conditioning activity.
3. Exercise: Rigorous physical exertion results in the intake of more oxygen at faster rates. Oxygen is the natural antidote to cortisol, the unhealthy stress hormone. Exercise also produces endorphins in the brain, which are known to energize your spirit and elevate your mood. Research has also shown that exercise promotes neural growth, reduced inflammation throughout the body, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.
4. Meditate or pray: Mindful meditation or prayer sessions, in which you are sitting comfortably, focusing on breathing, and thinking only of the present moment, are known to induce happiness and positive thinking. Meditation and prayer in a meditative state are also great stress relievers, because they halt the momentum of unhealthy mental activities and give your brain a chance to refocus on positivity.
5. Practice random acts of kindness: It’s no surprise that most people love to help others. Strangers, friends, or family—it doesn’t matter who we help, it just matters that we do take the time to think about others and act on these feelings. It isn’t just pure altruism that motivates this behavior; acts of kindness induce dopamine release in the brain, which makes you happier, in part because you are taking the focus off of yourself. It also makes the recipient of your kindness happier, and thinking about this can add to your own positivity. Engaging in a consistent pattern of good deeds is another way to train your brain to stay in a positive state.
Try these five tips to train your brain to focus on positivity and happiness! Happy salespeople sell 37 percent more than negative salespeople and, of course, they have more fun in the process. So experiment with these suggestions and see how each one, individually and in combination, boost your sales performance!