Customer Experience News & Trends

How to improve sales starting today

“One of life’s most painful moments comes when we must admit that we didn’t do our homework, that we are not prepared.” Merlin Olsen, Hall of Fame football player, was referring to one of his losing games when he made that statement. It has a lot of meaning for salespeople today. 


Self-assessment is the quality that makes top performers who they are. They are able to evaluate themselves objectively and make improvements in problem areas. A study at Cornell University found that when it comes to self-assessment, 75% of salespeople believe they are above average.

Men typically inflate their assessment of themselves, while women are harder on themselves. The result is that many salespeople don’t have an accurate picture of who they are, how they perform and what they can do to improve.

Without self-awareness it’s difficult to improve performance.

Here are strategies that may help improve self-awareness:

  • Pay attention to past sales results. Don’t be too quick to dismiss past failures as being outside your control or influence. This doesn’t mean you should obsess over them. Just see what you can learn from them.
  • Seek feedback. Seek out those who work closely with you and get their input on everything — from your skills and competencies to attitudes and behaviors. Create your own board of advisors. Go into this with an open mind. Leave your ego at the door. When you ask for someone’s opinion, be read to accept it.
  • Benchmark others. Compare yourself to others whose attributes and skills you admire. We all have heroes, people we want to be like. It may be a sports hero or a great salesperson.

Reflection exercises

Try to give objective answers to three questions:

  1. What are my greatest strengths that contribute to my sales results?
  2. What are my greatest limitations that hurt my sales results?
  3. What would my severest critics say about me?

Pessimistic salespeople

Pessimistic salespeople become consumed by their negative feelings. They tell themselves, “My quota is always unrealistic,” or “All the customer cares about is price.”

These thoughts become so ingrained that it changes how they perform in selling situations. It’s proven that an attitude of fear or panic can be debilitating.

An attitude adjustment

Top performers are optimistic. But they aren’t born with optimism. It is a disposition, a way of viewing the world that can be developed. Successful salespeople think twice as many positive thoughts as negative people. Positive self-talk reprograms us to expect success.

Adapted from: “Reignite Your Passion for Selling,” by Scott Anderson and Chip Kudrle, both are managing partners of Diamond Performance Group. They have worked with 3M, IBM, Wells Fargo, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

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