Think yourself successful

Periods of economic pessimism require some motivating messages.  Here, Patrick Joiner shares his tips on
coaching teams – and yourself

In sales as elsewhere in life, there are a few people who for no obvious
reason are just more successful than the rest.

In sport, you might think of England and Liverpool hero Michael Owen. His
basic soccer skills are not appreciably higher than those of many of the
players on the international stage who are all capable of scoring. But most
commentators agree that it is his attitude and self-belief that mark him out as
a real one to watch.

At a recent Institute of Sales and Marketing Management seminar, 150
delegates were asked to identify the chief attributes that they would look for
in a successful salesperson.

While 80 per cent of the words used alluded to attitudes, only 20 per cent
referred to skills. Overwhelmingly the words used to describe a successful
salesperson were persistent, creative, imaginative and so on.

Yet a glance at the content of most sales training programmes reveals an
overwhelming bias towards skills-based training.

The ingredient that singles out the star performer, however, is attitude.
Beliefs shape our attitudes, which in turn drive our behaviours, which then
confirm and strengthen our beliefs.

Successful behaviours

By focusing on the behaviours of successful people and by replicating them,
it is possible for any of us to break into the virtuous circle of belief,
attitude and behaviour.

To be successful in selling, as in any discipline, requires specific skills
and knowledge; these are the prerequisites.

But individuals who wish to rise above the ordinary need to be taught
techniques and skills that will help them to develop success-oriented attitudes
and beliefs which will in turn motivate them to adopt the behaviours that
govern success.

For any sales team to be successful, there are three crucial elements that
have to be in place. Firstly the strategy has to be right, secondly the
salespeople need to have the right skills, and finally they have to have the
right attitude.

There are numerous excellent training courses, books, workshops and seminars
that cover the first two, but all too often the human ingredient is taken for


American business speaker, Larry Winget, speaking at an ISMM-promoted event
at Aston Villa Football Club, took this idea a stage further.

While agreeing that attitude is important, he pointed out that it achieved
nothing in itself, attitude without action is pointless. He also stressed that
we all need to be prepared to take responsibility for our own success.

Winget recounted how at numerous workshops all over the world he has made a
record of all the factors that people blame for their lack of success. The most
common excuse, he has discovered, is geography.

He has spoken in all American states as well as many other countries, and
regardless of where he is, the main reason delegates cite for under-performance
is where they are.

All of his audiences provide lengthy lists of factors that limit their
achievements – product, pricing, management, politics etc.

"I take a long look at the list," he says, "then I look at
the audience, and say I have a problem with your list… you ain’t on it!"

Making it happen

Winget argues that it is no good going through life looking for reasons why
we are not doing well, it’s up to us to make things happen for ourselves.

He also maintains that there is no secret recipe for success, and that each
of us knows enough to be successful, or can very easily learn the things that
we don’t know. The problem, he maintains, is never that we don’t know enough,
it’s that we don’t do what we already know.

This kind of message is often uncomfortable for us to hear. It’s easy when
we can blame our lack of success on factors outside our control.

The idea that when we don’t succeed we have only to look in the mirror to
see the cause of our failure is not a pleasant one to accept.

At the same time, however, it’s also good news. The one thing in this world
over which we do have complete control, for which we have to assume full
responsibility – and for which we can take full credit – is ourselves.

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