We all know about glass half empty, glass half full kind of people. By definition salespeople have to demonstrate half full approach, optimism being the fuel that drives sales reliance.
What we are finding mid 2010 is that for many salespeople remaining positive is becoming a real challenge. The economy is not recovering in any meaningful way and, for many new businesses, is still hard to come by with customers just as likely to procrastinate as to purchase.
This creates a difficulty for salespeople. All the reasons/excuses they gave for business being poor are long used up. Being behind target is the norm, the high watermark of 2007 figures being a distant memory. Many have not earned meaningful bonus for some time and don’t see much prospect in the near future either.
We are seeing increasing evidence of salespeople becoming resigned to this low performance, under achieving state. This is very dangerous because it creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. Underperformance leads to pessimism, which encourages down-grading personal expectations, which creates negativity, which affects behaviour, which reduces effectiveness, which sends the whole loop replaying again.
This was brought home in an organisation where a new recruit (and new to selling) had no memory of the good times, had never met customers rolling over to give themselves up. She had only known post 2007 trading conditions. She began in her sales role early in 2008, that year she came in the top 5 salespeople and this year she is currently number 1.
What’s going on? A rookie salesperson out performing her more experienced colleagues? Sure, her numbers are not beating 2007 levels, but at current growth rates, they will be by mid 2011. She has no mental baggage holding up her sales performance.
If you have a sales team struggling to believe they can ever replicate their previous performance, you need to act; this is not a problem that will be solved by a returning buoyant market-place.