Have you ever watched sales performance levels drop for a person involved in a divorce? Or, have you watched some top performers doubt themselves even though they led their teams and won the trips and prizes?
What about someone who blames their inability to close on the leads they receive or on the sales manager that leads them? Or, someone who complains every time products, regulations, or competition changes, and they must adapt in order to meet sales quotas or earn the same income?
The Trait Optimism and Its Effects
The CTS Sales Profile defines optimism as, “measuring the salesperson’s tendency to see what happens to them in a positive context.”
I like to think of it in this way, “A person looks through a set of optimistic glasses and sees what happens to them in a way that does not limit them in the future. Whatever happens to them at home or on the job does not decrease their belief in finding a way to achieve their goals or to move forward.”
When those same glasses, for another person, begin to blur with mud or doubt, that person processes life’s hard moments as barriers to their progress. They stop believing, and they see those obstacles in their way as permanent impediments to their eventual success. They’ve bought into the lie that they, “Do not have what it takes.”
This may cause them to complain, quit, or at the worst level, douse themselves with some substance that takes away the resulting fear or anxiety—leading to further dependence and depression.
High Optimism vs. Low Optimism
High Scorers on the CTS Sales Profile prefer sales teams with “can do” cultures where negativity is absent. They believe that bad things can result in positive outcomes and that they control their destiny. Success for them lies in the choices they make and not in outside events.
Low Scorers, in the extreme, believe that setbacks seldom turn out well and usually have negative consequences. They believe capable people who take advantage of their opportunities can fail to be successful.
The book by Claude Bristol, The Magic of Believing, is a book with a lot of magic for us in the twenty-first century. Mr. Bristol was born in 1891 and died in 1951 and wrote his book to help former soldiers adapt to civilian life.
In the book, he presents a strong case from dedication, belief, and character for high achievement. Subconsciously, we can either motivate or demotivate ourselves simply because of the beliefs we buy into. We can either allow or forbid external influences and their setbacks from compromising the beliefs and plans we have for ourselves.
Overcoming Adversity and Self-efficacy
A person’s level of optimism plays a significant role in their ability to sell at a high level. Optimism, often defined as the general expectation of positive outcomes or the belief that the future will be favorable, is associated with several benefits in sales—improved motivation, persistence, and resilience in the face of challenges.
One of the key factors that contributes to high sales performance is self-efficacy. Think of this as self-potency or self-power, which is simply the belief in one’s ability to achieve desired outcomes. Research conducted by Albert Bandura, a renowned psychologist, showed a strong correlation between self-efficacy and sales success (Bandura, 1977). Optimistic individuals tended to have higher self-efficacy, which results in increased confidence and motivation to pursue and close sales deals.
In a study conducted by psychologist Dr. Suzanne C. Segerstrom, it was found that optimistic individuals are more successful in goal-directed efforts, including sales, as they demonstrate greater persistence in the face of obstacles (Segerstrom, 2001).
This persistence is vital for a salesperson, as it allows them to continue pursuing leads and closing deals even when faced with rejection or unfavorable market conditions.
Interpersonal Skills and Coping with Stress
Another advantage of optimism in sales is enhanced interpersonal skills. According to a study by researcher Michael F. Scheier and psychologist Charles S. Carver, optimistic people exhibit better social skills and are more successful in establishing relationships (Scheier & Carver, 1992).
This is particularly relevant in sales, as building rapport and trust with clients is crucial for successful transactions. Optimistic salespeople are more likely to approach client interactions with a positive attitude, which can create a more engaging and persuasive sales experience.
Furthermore, optimistic individuals are more adept at coping with stress. Research conducted by psychologists Karen A. Matthews and Julian F. Thayer suggests that optimists have lower stress levels and are better equipped to manage stress (Matthews & Thayer, 1990).
Given that sales can be a high-stress occupation with performance pressure and fluctuating market conditions, the ability to manage stress is essential for sales success. Optimistic salespeople are better prepared to handle the emotional demands of their job, leading to improved overall performance.
A Positive Attitude Inspires the Client
Lastly, optimism can have a contagious effect on clients. As stated by psychologist Tali Sharot in her book The Optimism Bias, “Optimism is not only a personal attitude; it is a social attitude. When we are optimistic, we tend to be more inspiring to others” (Sharot, 2011).
An optimistic salesperson can instill a sense of positivity and confidence in their clients, making them more likely to trust in the product or service being offered and ultimately leading to increased sales.
Summing Up the Advantages of High Optimism
Your sales reps will have:
- Increased confidence and motivation to pursue and close sales deals.
- Perseverance through adversity and setbacks. (Your sales rep after a strikeout goes back to the plate with greater determination to get a hit.)
- More success in goal-directed efforts .(Your rep closes more deals.)
- A desire to pursue leads and close deals even when faced with rejection or unfavorable market conditions.
- Enhanced interpersonal skills.(They approach client interactions with a positive attitude, which then creates a more engaging and persuasive sales experience.)
- Higher ability of coping with stress and emotionally demanding situations, which leads to better overall job performance.
Optimism can have a contagious effect on clients, other reps, installers, administrative staff, and everyone around them on the job and at home. A person’s level of optimism has a profound impact on a person’s ability to sell at a high level and in a way that is positive and helpful for their client, themselves and their peers.
Be encouraged, “You do have what it takes.” You do have what it takes to get back up and find a way to fight your way forward, and as you do, to turn and help others to do the same as you get better in the pursuit of your life’s ambitions.