This column has always been about shedding traditional ways of selling. More specifically, I have encouraged salespeople to reinvent themselves by adopting what I call a "business resource mindset."
In the early days, the business resource mindset had anywhere from eight to 12 different dimensions to it. It was then contrasted with the corresponding eight to 12 dimensions of the traditional sales mindset (which is the mindset that most salespeople have inherited.
Over time, I have refined and simplified how I express the business resource mindset. For the past few years, there have been six dimensions.
This past year had me doing some major rethinking of what the business resource mindset really was. For example, was "finding the decision-maker" (traditional) vs. "being organizationally savvy" (business resource) really a dimension of sales mindset? I decided it wasn't. It was more in the category of business resource knowledge, and I will be writing much more about business resource knowledge in this coming year.
So this month, I'm going to circle back to the sales mindset so that I can bring you up to date on the evolution of what I believe to be the most important driver of sales success.
Sales mindset is our DNA
Every salesperson has his or her own thought process about what they're supposed to do in order to be successful. For the most part, this thought process operates at a nearly subconscious level. We call this general way of thinking about selling the sales mindset.
Sales mindset can be likened to our sales "microprocessor," "operating system" or "DNA." A practical way to think about our own sales mindset is to consider the many ways we might complete the following sentence: "In order for me to succeed in sales, I have to..."
Sales mindset, more than any other factor, determines what salespeople say and do in every customer interaction.
No two salespeople think the very same way about every aspect of selling. However, there are several ways of thinking that are common among the majority of sales professionals, no matter their experience level or specific selling environment.
This commonly accepted thinking about how to succeed in selling is what I call the "traditional sales mindset." As a result of the natural evolution of the business of selling, most salespeople have "inherited" a traditional sales mindset, which can be summed up as follows. In order for me to succeed in sales I have to:
- Master the ability to communicate information.
- Build relationships (and be responsive).
- Focus on closing the sale.
The business resource mindset, which is acquired, can be summed up in the following way. In order for me to succeed in sales I have to:
- Master the ability to understand the customer's world.
- Build mutually valuable business peer relationships.
- Focus on advancing the sales campaign.
Mindset in the trenches is what matters
In addition to reducing sales mindset to its essence – the three dimensions above – I've also attempted to translate those three dimensions into what they mean in the trenches, where it really counts, illustrated in Figure 1.
Remember, in sales, you are what you think … so stop thinking traditionally. You will amaze yourself with what you can accomplish.