Mindset is the driving force behind sales performance, and as sales professionals, we all have to be pretty mentally tough. But mindset matters even more during a crisis like COVID-19.
If you find yourself anxious and stressed, you’re not alone. But remember, you’re no stranger to challenge.
You’ve had targets assigned that seemed unachievable. You’ve had game-changing deals fall through. You’ve experienced exasperation and desperation at the end of quarter — all gut-wrenching experiences that you’ve managed to overcome.
COVID-19 is just one more challenge, but it’s likely going to require everything you’ve got. Your key to success lies in your mindset. Mindset is central to great sales performance.
Mindset is the one thing that changes everything.
But having a positive mindset isn’t always easy. Use this three-step process to transform your mindset and overcome any obstacle that comes your way, including COVID-19.
Let’s look at them in more detail.
STEP 1: Recognize Overwhelm
The first step is to recognize if you’re in a state of overwhelm. We refer to low-productivity mindsets as overwhelm.
The problem is that we often don’t see ourselves objectively enough to recognize when we’re in this state. People often become overwhelmed in the face of challenges, of which COVID-19 is but one example.
Overwhelm is experienced in four distinct ways.
Compulsion is a high-energy state of mind characterized by the compulsive need to do whatever it takes to come out on top. It feels powerful, but it’s actually fueled by anxiety.
Examples of this behavior include obsessing about something, not being able to get it out of your mind, driving yourself to get ahead of the problem, or regarding the problem as more important than it really is. Neglecting other things that matter, not letting go, and overworking are other common characteristics.
Unfortunately, compulsion is considered an acceptable state of mind for salespeople all too often.
The thing about compulsion is that you can’t maintain it. It’s exhausting, for both you and the people around you. When you’ve had all you can take of being anxious, you’ll feel the air go out of your tires.
When that happens, you’ll often fall into a resentful state of mind called obligation, and you’ll lose that hard-driving energy.
Instead, you settle for doing what you’re supposed to do, what you ought to do, what others are telling you to do to address the issue, but your heart isn’t in it. In this stage, you’re just going through the motions.
Whatever you’ve been doing half-heartedly because of obligation never really gets the job done. And, as it gets worse, the survival mindset sets in.
This mindset creates a sense of panic and fear that causes you to run around like a headless chicken, desperate to make something, anything, happen.
This is the stage where you’ve reached the point of giving up. The challenge is too big, too difficult, too complicated, etc. From the outside, your behavior may look like you’re rising to the challenge when, in fact, you’ve given up and are just pretending to do something constructive.
Any of these mindsets can and will sap your energy and creativity, undermining your success as a salesperson. However it often feels completely reasonable to be in on these frames of mind. You may feel justified due to your circumstances, but staying stuck in one of these states is a losing game.
So how do you change your mindset?
STEP 2: Catch the Mind at Work
Now that you’ve identified that you’re in that state of overwhelm, the next step is to identify what is fueling the anxiety you’re feeling.
We rarely see problems as they truly are. Instead we view them through the filter of our minds, which is often far from reality. And if left unchecked, this can be what drives you into a state of overwhelm.
First, the mind draws conclusions about what happened. It judges whether the event is good or bad, whether you like it or not, and how it affects you and others.
Next, your mind makes demands on how things should or should not be, how others should or should not be, and what you and others should do about it.
And finally, our minds predict what is going to happen based on what’s already happened. It often blows things out of proportion and makes things seem worse than they actually are.
This interpretation creates the anxiety that takes the form of compulsion, obligation, survival, or impossibility. Our thinking magnifies the experience so we can’t think clearly, can’t see a way out, and can’t see a way through the problem we’re faced with.
And all of this happens at lightning speed.
Many things can put us into a state of overwhelm, and many are not our fault. But when you stay stuck, even for five minutes after something happens, the problem changes. You no longer see the problem as it is, you see your mind’s interpretation of it.
Every human being is made this way, so don’t worry. It’s not your fault. However, it is your responsibility to take charge and elevate your attitude to move out of overwhelm.
STEP 3: Generate Brilliance
Fundamentally, all human beings have the ability to be brilliant. But when you’re entrenched in overwhelm, it’s nearly impossible to do so. But just as your mindset can deteriorate in four distinct ways, there are four distinct steps you can take to lift your mentality and allow your natural brilliance to emerge.
Humans are wired with the ability to follow this natural path:
The first step to getting things moving is to accept your situation as it actually is. Embrace it. Tell yourself, out loud, “This challenge is real, it happened, and I accept it. I’ll say ‘yes’ to it.”
You can accelerate this process by taking a few steady breaths as you do this exercise. It may sound cheesy, but it works. Take a moment to allow yourself to settle in with this acceptance.
Continue by saying aloud, “I will take this problem on as my challenge to overcome. I don’t know what I’m going to do just yet, but I will figure it out.” Take your time to allow your natural determination to rise up.
Identify a clear goal to shoot for. What does successfully overcoming this challenge look like? Tell yourself something like, “Given that this has happened, I now want…”
Write down whatever comes to you. Add on the words, “I want it because I’m aiming at…” Then repeat, “ I want it because I want…” at the end of each phrase. Keep writing until you’ve identified your deepest desire.
Now is the opportunity to create something new in response to the challenge you’re facing. Identify what you want to do now. Continue with the words, “Therefore, I choose to…”
These choices would have happened had the challenge not come about. Allow your natural brilliance to create what you want.
Shifting mindset from overwhelm to brilliance doesn’t solve the problem you’re dealing with, but it does eliminate anxiety, restore confidence, and instill determination so you can figure things out. With a brilliance-focused mindset, you allow new strategies and committed action to take center stage.
We have used this process literally tens of thousands of times with the salespeople we’ve managed over the last 40 years. This three-step process is not just for COVID-19. It’s for anytime you find yourself in one of the four overwhelm mindsets.
Try it for yourself, or if you’re a sales manager, help your salespeople go through this process. It’s the fastest and most effective way we’ve learned to transform mindsets and help salespeople regain confidence and become brilliant performers.
For detailed instructions on how to do this exercise yourself or lead your team through it, just download the free eBook here.
Remember, Mindset is the one thing that changes everything.
Authors: Scott Roy and Roy Whitten from Whitten & Roy Partnership
Scott A. Roy is the CEO and co-founder of international sales consultancy Whitten & Roy Partnership. He has spent his lifetime building and running large direct-sales organizations and co-founded a $1B nationwide insurance company in the United States.
W. Roy Whitten is the co-founder of Whitten & Roy Partnership. He is an expert in attitude and its role in human performance and sales management. In 2004, he earned a PhD for his work in transformative learning and change. In over 40 years as a trainer, consultant and coach, he has personally coached and trained over 100,000 people.