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Are You a Resilient Salesperson or an Optimistic One?

It’s often said that the best salesmen are the most resilient. But what creates resilience in sales? Ron Willingham, author of Integrity Selling for the 21st Century, believes that emotional resilience is a “necessary trait for a sustained successful sales career”. This resilience enables you to bounce back from the customer who pulls an order, or an issue of bad timing, and continue in the pursuit of the next, undaunted by a temporary defeat.

In this article, we discuss the attribute of optimism as a personality trait and how it is key to becoming a resilient salesperson.

Are optimistic people better at sales?

There have been hundreds of studies into the link between optimism and sales success. Perhaps the most notable of these was one conducted by psychologist Dr Seligman in the mid-1980s. Commissioned by Metropolitan Life, he tracked 15,000 new MetLife sales consultants over two years. Each had taken two tests – the first was MetLife’s screening exam, and the second was Dr Seligman’s profile test which screened for optimism levels.

Over two years, the new hires who had failed the MetLife test but scored highly in the Optimism test outsold pessimistic sales consultants by 21% in their first year and 57% in the second year.

Is your personality trait optimistic or pessimistic?

We are not born as optimists or pessimists. The way we view the world around us, and our own potential to perform in that world, is born in our experiences and how we are ‘persuaded’ to react to them. It is dictated by those around us. Surround yourself with optimistic people, and you, too, will become optimistic.

Consider for a moment how you react when you first meet with a client. Is your focus on:

  • Helping the customer identify and realise product benefits, or getting the customer to buy from you?
  • Helping the customer if you can, or selling something if you can?

If you make a mistake, do you look on it as part of the learning experience, or as a reason why you’re not selling? Is rejection simply part of the job, or is it a cause to become disheartened?

By choosing which response to have, you determine your success in sales. So, how do you shape your optimism, and increase your success in sales?

Emotional intelligence can shape your resilience

Your emotional response to adversity – your level of optimism – is what defines your resilience. Your resilience defines your success. Think of the last time you were turned down by a prospect. How did you react to yourself? You may have had a response similar to one of the following:

  • “They didn’t need the product just yet.”
  • “I need to understand them better.”
  • “I don’t think I explained how the product will benefit them well enough.”

On the other hand, you may have said to yourself:

  • “I’m not cut out for sales.”
  • “I don’t think they liked me.”
  • “I can’t communicate well with them.”

The first three reasons are those that an optimist would say. Yes, she’s been defeated this time, but she’s ready to learn from the experience, put it behind her, and then be better equipped to sell next time. And in a few months, she’ll try the same prospect again. She’s optimistic, and resilient to the core.

The second three reasons are those that would be expressed by a pessimist. She’s given up. She’ll let this bad experience haunt her, and she’ll make the same mistakes again. It won’t be long before she’s given up on sales.

Optimism is a natural trait, isn’t it?

Optimism is often referred to as a natural trait. In reality, it is a skill that can be learned. Emotionally intelligent salespeople sell more. They connect to clients more easily, and know how to control their reactions. Because they understand their likely responses, they can work on shaping those responses. Pessimistic people can become optimistic. And optimistic salespeople are resilient salespeople.

Work on your emotional intelligence and develop your optimism. Increased optimism will help you when you most need your personality traits to shine through – in sales meetings, when you’re helping a prospect to understand the benefits of your product or service.

MetLife worked on its sales force, employed more optimistic people and coached consultants to become optimistic. They increased their market shares by 50%.

To answer the question posed by this article – are you a resilient salesperson or an optimistic one? – learn the art of optimism and you’ll increase your resilience. Improved sales will follow.

Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. The result will be a high-impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and increase sales.

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