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From David Hoffeld

This is one guest article of many to come about “The Science of Selling”, an exciting new book that finally applies science, and what we are finding about how we think about buying, to sales.

For years, many in the sales community have operated with the belief that success in selling is dependent on innate communication skills and a gregarious personality. The assumption has been, if you didn’t have “it”, you couldn’t be taught it.  However, a tidal wave of scientific research, studying what makes people successful, has disproven that theory in recent decades. Though some people do have heightened levels of natural ability to become a top performing sales person, talent is not enough.  Because of the exceptionally crowded marketplace, you must continually improve your knowledge and skills.  In other words, to be successful in sales today – you must sell beyond your natural ability.

One fascinating example of this is seen in the work of Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, who  has conducted several studies on how one’s mentality influences one’s performance.

She has found that people tend to embrace one of two common outlooks.

  1. Fixed Mindset– believing you can do little to change your abilities
  2. Growth Mindset– believing that through effort you can improve your abilities

Below is a short quiz that will help you identify what mindset you have. 

Which of the following statements do you believe to be true?

  1. Your ability to sell is part of who you are and not something that you can change.
  2. No matter how good you are at sales you can always improve.
  3. You can learn new selling strategies, but you can’t change much about your ability to influence others.
  4. Selling is a skill that you can develop, regardless of your natural talent or personality.

Questions 1 and 3 are fixed mindset statements, while statements 2 and 4 are focused on growth mindset.

These mindsets will heavily influence sales results because the outcomes each produce are radically different. Those who have a growth mindset are far more likely to be successful than those who don’t.  One of the main reasons a growth mindset drives high achievement is because it alters how the brain perceives failure. Those with fixed mindsets are more prone to see failure as a judgment on themselves.  If they fail, they feel like failures.  In contrast, people with a growth mindset view failure as the feedback that shows them how to adapt and take their abilities to the next level.

Over the years, I have witnessed the vast difference in performance between sales people who are content to rely on their giftedness to bring in enough sales to squeak by (fixed mindset), and those who work hard to surpass their natural aptitude (growth mindset) to achieve or beat their sales goals each year.  In fact, this is one of the things I recommend that sales leaders test for when hiring for an open sales position.  Those with a growth outlook are more motivated to succeed and, as a result, far more likely to become top performers.

What about you?  If you have a growth mindset, great!  If you have a fixed mindset, it is something you should address because it will hinder your ability to achieve the level of success you desire.  The good news is that your mindset is your mindset and you can change it.  By choosing to embrace the new, empowering belief that your sales skills are like a muscle that needs to be continually strengthened you will inspire the work ethic necessary to achieve high levels of sales performance.

Watch these short videos for even more information:

Why Poor Hiring Decisions Occur

How To Hire Salespeople