The new rules for sales success are the new ABC of Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. In this second post in the series I review Daniel Pink’s rules on Buoyancy. He breaks down his thoughts into: Positivity ratios, self-questioning negativity, measure rejection, negativity and realism. Following the style of my blog post in Part 1, I’ve added some practical execution tips from our TPP playbook.
Positivity Ratios: There is quite a bit of research being done on what drives great team performance and great relationships surrounding positive and negative feedback. I trapped some of this research in a blog post earlier this year here. Daniel Pink quotes Barbara Fredrickson’s website as a way of measuring your “Positivity Ratio”. The tipping point is 3:1 which frankly is a tough ratio to hit. I was slightly under. Take the test on her web site. Daniel’s point is that the research is quite compelling that a positive outlook determines your success.
Execution Tip: I would say this in the context of sales. A career in sales is a wonderful idea if you want to be in sales but if you don’t want to be in sales it can be dreadful. One thing is for sure we have seen great sales professionals lose their confidence, lose their self- belief and lose their positive outlook and their performance drops. Their product knowledge hasn’t changed. Their customer and market knowledge hasn’t got worse. They intellectually understand the sales process. However their belief system has weakened. I find a close analogy here with competitive sport. The fitness level is as good as ever but the mental game has gone. Watch for the signs and move in to help. Focus on small wins and build up their confidence quickly.
Self-questioning: How do you explain to yourself why you failed? Daniel suggests breaking it down. Is this failure permanent? No way, it was a one off because…….that’s the way to answer it. Is this pervasive? No way, it was just down to this prospect being weak with little ability to move his peers. Is this personal? No way, it was a bad time and it’s still a live prospect just not today. You can see how answering these questions by blaming yourself can lead to self-fulfilling negativity and poor results.
Execution Tip: The beauty of a strong sales process is that it depersonalizes sales. It sets out a logical path to measure success. It allows an objective review of failure and success. We find that sales teams often lack a robust process to produce consistent results and when results fail, the manager is left with anecdotal measurements too blunt to execute correction tactics.
Measure Rejection: In this final part of buoyancy Daniel suggests actually counting your rejections in a week. Embrace the sea of rejection and realize it hasn’t stopped you. You are still here! And for the really big rejections, the fund raising, the big account that got away he suggests documenting those rejection letters and using them to drive you forward.
Execution Tip: Rejection affects people differently but no one likes it. In our experience if you have a compelling story to tell and you are skilled at really understanding the real issues on the table then you will succeed most of the time. In a sales environment there are only two real reasons why people don’t buy: they don’t believe they have the problem you can solve or they don’t believe your solution works. It’s very rarely personal.
Negativity & Realism: All this positivity must be key. Forget negativity. Push forward in a wave of passionate confidence and all will be well! Not so fast. A little negativity needs to remain to be real. Authenticity comes with being realistic. He quotes Julie Norem of Wellesley College and her work on thinking through gloom-and-doom scenarios to manage anxieties.
Execution Tip: Two points worth noting here. We encourage “road map” thinking within our sales teams. For example to hit a monthly target of say $150,000 you should have at least 4 road maps to take you there. You build pipelines to give you options. Closing that $150k month may involve making negative assumptions about prospects C,D,E. However your roadmap of prospects A,F,G, and M gets you there. Secondly in terms of being negative and realistic. We teach within our third phase of our process what we call the “bump in the road” admissions. You need to point out problems that can occur with implementation and if it does how you will solve those issues. This negative approach will give you massive credibility. You will sound different from the competitors and the experienced manager you are selling to will recognize someone who cares.