It is a truism in life that everyone wants to be successful. As we all know, success is not evenly distributed. Just look at data on top producers and their impact on sales volume. Twenty percent of originators produce roughly 60% to 70% of the total volume at any given company. Success and how to achieve it is one of the Internet’s most searched topics. So what does the research tell us?
Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor, spoke at a TED Talk last year and discussed her research on Chicago public schoolchildren. She found that the foremost predictor of success wasn’t talent, brains, social intelligence, good looks, physical health or IQ. It was the psychological trait of grit. Duckworth identified the same predictors of success in teachers and salespeople. Her definition of grit is “having stamina. It’s living life as a marathon, not a sprint.”
What can we learn from Duckworth’s studies?
Are you born with grit? Not necessarily but you can acquire it and learn it? According to Duckworth’s research, there are seven keys to developing grit in sales:
1. Stay present for every sales call. This is not easy especially when you have many years of sales experience. Experienced salespeople who have seen everything can lose their focus and not be present for the opportunity to learn and really listen to a prospect/customer. Being present to the moment is the foundation of grit.
2. Control the negative self-talk. Selling is hard. There are many emotional roller coasters. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “buyers are liars.” Instead, it is important to note what went well during a call and to acknowledge selling mistakes. Don’t give in to self-pity.
3. Find a coach. Finding an expert who can help you organize your improvement plan and review progress makes the road to success much easier. It is nearly impossible to do this on your own.
4. Set a major goal. Unless there is an improvement goal to reach for, any bump in the road will cause you to lose focus of the bigger picture and not make necessary changes.
5. Break your goal into smaller ones. The road to achieving your goal is a series of steps. Small victories are what lead to achieving big goals. Focus on a few things to improve.
6. Develop a plan. A coach can assist in selecting the right issues to work on. Individuals are generally not objective enough to do this alone without assistance and an organized target strategy. Putting a personal plan together provides a roadmap to changing and improving sales results.
7. Assess your habits. What issue in selling stops you from becoming successful? Cold calling? Prospecting? Presenting? Closing? Whatever it is, identify the stumbling block and put a strategic plan in place to address the challenges. (View our webinar excerpt on “What is Drive?”) Include improvement practice as part of the sales routine to get better. Unless your practice process includes insightful criticism, getting better is difficult.
As Duckworth further states, “grit is not about being hard on yourself. It is more about what you can become on your way to improvement.”
Are you willing to “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk” when it comes to improving sales results? The choice on whether you succeed or not is yours.