Sales skills and pre-defined processes are vital for a sales reps’ success. Knowing what to do and knowing when (and when not) to do it is at the core of any type of selling. However, top-performing sales reps possess more than just the right skills; they also have a powerful mindset that helps them overcome obstacles and perform consistently well, giving them that X-factor.
Whether it is chasing down a Fortune 500 decision-maker, or getting a difficult customer to sign a contract, top performers use self-talk to overcome challenges and maintain a positive outlook, no matter what else is happening around them. And while you can probably succeed in sales without an ongoing internal narrative, you’re unlikely to break through to the next level unless you change (and constantly manage) your own beliefs.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the things that top sales performers regularly tell themselves. Here the four most common things:
1. What can I do to improve?
Top sales reps are never satisfied with their current level of performance, no matter how high it might be. They’re continuously looking for ways to improve and grow their skills, and aren’t afraid to question existing orthodoxies or look at what new technology might be coming around the bend. By asking themselves, “What can I do to improve?” they stay curious, creative, and open-minded, allowing them to push their limits and step outside their comfort zone.
This constant drive for improvement helps them stay ahead of the competition, and helps them become better than they were the week before. Even if the changes are incremental, over time, they add up, and somebody who might have been average had they stayed on the same trajectory will eventually become a top performer, as long as they’re willing to challenge themselves.
2. Failure is only temporary
Rejection is a part of sales, no matter how much we might detest it. Top performers, however, understand that failure is temporary and rather than let it get them down, they use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran once said that the difference between a successful salesperson and an unsuccessful one is how much time they spend feeling sorry for themselves after losing a deal; that is, top reps don’t waste time on self-pity, they dust themselves off and try again.
Top reps use failure and setbacks as an opportunity to gain insight, learn from their mistakes and become better at what they do. They view it as a necessary part of the learning process, which helps them to keep moving forward. Silicon Valley coined the ethos of failing quickly in order to reach success. Successful sales reps see things the same way. And while they don’t go out looking for failure, they know it’s just a necessary part of the game.
3. It’s a sprint, AND a marathon
Sales is a challenging and demanding profession that requires consistent effort and persistence. Top performers understand that it’s not just about achieving short-term goals but also about staying focused on long-term success. They view their career as a marathon and pace themselves accordingly, ensuring that they don’t burn out too quickly.
At the same time, they maintain a sense of urgency to achieve short-term goals to keep moving forward. A long term goal might be to become a CRO at a large organization, or to make a certain amount of money. This goal should be top of mind when going through the motions, but it won’t be achievable in a few months, which is why you need to look at your monthly, weekly, and daily activities first, understanding that if you give it your all, they will eventually compound and get you where you want to be. Focus on the day, the week, the year, and the decade, and eventually, you’ll see your goals becoming your reality.
4. This is WHY I’m doing this
Top performers know their “why” — the reason they’re in sales and why they are willing to put in the effort to be successful. They have a deep sense of purpose that drives them to achieve their goals, whether it’s providing for their family, achieving financial freedom, or (and this is not uncommon) a good old fashioned chip on their shoulder.
Keeping your “why” top of mind isn’t always easy, and when we’re bogged down in the weeds or facing a particularly difficult period, usually the only thing we can think about is how to get out of it. But if you remember your “why,” you can use it as fuel to get you through the difficult times. Without it, you’re simply suffering without understanding why you’re suffering. Your “why” is your nourishment, your companion, and your driving force. And if it’s powerful enough, then no setback can ever convince you to quit.
Finally, a sales process that gives you the freedom to sell.
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