Unleashing the potential of your sales team – It is all about potential, not results
There I was, 35 years ago sitting in an interview for my first big company sales role. This uber successful senior manager asks me the killer question…
“What is the most important quality of a successful salesperson?”
I thought and then I guessed…bravery, questioning, closing, listening,
I got desperate…humour, gift of the gab…? Good try but no cigar. The senior manager tells me “No…. the answer is the desire to learn.”
So 35 years on how many salespeople see it this way? How many times have you heard “experienced” salespeople say;
They have been successful beating target every year.
They know loads about sales models and theories
They don’t have anything to learn
…….in summary, many are not open to learning.
This is a shame as research shows that salespeople with a “hunger to learn” or “growth mindset” outperform others by more than 38% (Gerhard Gschwandtner, Selling Power Magazine).
But I can understand this fixed mindset, leaping back 35 years ago, I also experienced it.
Somehow, I did manage to land the job. I loved every minute of it – probably the most fun you can have with your clothes on – I worked hard, played hard and was very successful. And then I started thinking, I must be good because I’m top of the sales table, I’m winning these trips and then there’s the money.
It’s easy to believe your own publicity and ego kicks in big time!
What helped to develop a growth mindset? I was very lucky to have a fantastic boss who challenged and supported me in equal measure and got me thinking about what I was good at, and what I needed to work on – rather than just my results. He put an emphasis on me working with other members of the sales, engineering and marketing teams to help me learn and improve.
So what questions, as sales leaders can you ask yourselves to help embrace a growth mindset culture?
“Are sales results a predictor of capability or skill levels?” Not always. We have found that other factors can also come in to play…. a great product, little competition, and a super price.
“Are your salespeople consistently applying these skills and abundant knowledge?” They might be, but highly unlikely. How do you know if they are applying these skills?
“Are your salespeople as good as they can be?” Is there potential for them to do more and achieve more? This really puts you in mind of that quote…“Success turns luck into genius” Rasmus Anderson.
How can organizations foster this “loving learning” and “growth mindset” environment? Here are some principles to follow based on Carole Dweck’s research as well as our own experience and findings.
Present skills as ‘learnable’ but ones which need deliberate practice
Communicate that the organization values learning and perseverance, not just ready-made geniuses or plain lucky people
Give feedback in a way which promotes learning and future success
Encourage curiosity and challenge so people openly give their views without fear of criticism
Ensuring your leaders and managers live by these principles
If you would like to learn more about how a growth mindset can support sales success please watch our webinar here.
And if I can leave you with one lasting thought – remember this…
“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.” Charlie Munger
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