Leadership & Management

How to Shift Your Leadership Mindset for More Sales Success

By Alice Heiman  •  September 14, 2018

Think about all the things you’ve done right today – even if you just woke up, got out of bed, ate breakfast, and got yourself to work. If it’s later in the day, you probably coached your team members and led them to close some big deals.

But then you do one negative thing – maybe you spill coffee down your shirt or you’re late to an important meeting – and your brain focuses on that one negative thing.

Why Do Negative Experiences Stick?
Why? No other game is scored this way; but, in the game of life, you can do 100 positive things, and one negative thing still wins. Dr. Rick Hanson said, “The brain is like Velcro® for negative experiences, but Teflon® for positive ones.”

I’ve worked with clients who gave in to negative thoughts about their sales team, using phrases like the following:

  • These salespeople don’t…
  • Why can’t they ever…
  • If they would only…

Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts. But the truth is you have to stop complaining. If your salespeople suck, you have to fix it or fire them. It’s not about them – it’s about you.

That’s right. If you want to drive sales growth, you have to stop looking at your sales team and start looking at the ways you might be preventing your company from increasing sales. What are you willing to do to change?

If I gave you and your sales organization everything you needed to succeed in the way of skills and tools, it wouldn’t help much unless you have the right mindset – so let’s start by changing those negative thoughts.

What Happens When the Sales Leader Has a Poor Mindset?
One of my clients wanted to increase sales, so they hired me to train and coach their sales team. This team had the latest and greatest tools, but – when I talked to the salespeople – I quickly noticed their morale was low. Not only did they feel their goals were impossible to meet; they also felt unappreciated.

When they didn’t hit their numbers, their sales manager yelled at them. When they hit their numbers, their sales manager yelled at them some more – telling them they could do even better. All the yelling and threatening wasn’t motivational.

Similarly, I was hired to train another sales team and – when I talked to that team – they said, “The owner and the sales manager don’t like us.” Leadership revealed to me they didn’t like one person, but that attitude rubbed off on the rest of the team. The sales reps didn’t feel appreciated and they didn’t think their manager trusted them to get work done – because leadership wouldn’t let them work remotely.

What a huge disconnect!
Sales leaders in both examples may not think they affect sales, but their attitude toward their teams had a significant effect. Are you getting in the way of sales in a similar way? If so, you’ll need to change your mindset if you want to drive growth.

First, think of the actions you take to keep a positive mindset in general:

  • Do you get away from work occasionally and take a vacation?
  • Do you take breaks during the workday?
  • Do you meditate occasionally?
  • Are you exercising daily?
  • Are you kind to people? Do you give compliments?
  • Do you smile throughout the day – especially when you interact with people?

These activities can really make a difference and keep you thinking positively.
Next, you should analyze your thoughts. If you have negative thoughts such as, “If only this company would…” or “Oh, Jim’s never going to make quota,” it’s time to flip the switch. You have to believe your team has the ability to succeed and that you have the ability to lead them to success.

If you travel by airplane frequently, you’ll know this common phrase as flight attendants explain how to use oxygen masks in case of an emergency: “Remember: You put your mask on first before attempting to help others.” You need to believe in your team before they can believe in themselves and really drive that exponential growth. Once you have the right mindset, you’re ready for takeoff.

If you would like to read more about rewiring your brain to think more positively, I would highly recommend The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor or How to Rewire Your Brain for Positivity and Happiness by Walter Chen.

If you’d like more information on any of these ideas, I’d love to have virtual coffee with you and chat about them. You can schedule it here.

A version of this post originally appeared on Alice Heiman’s blog as “It Starts with You: Transform Your Mindset, Skillset, and Toolset to Drive Sales Growth.”

Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth – and has been helping companies increase sales for over 20 years. She regularly emcees the Sales 3.0 Conference and is a certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer.