Tell yourself a new story to increase sales confidence
Storytelling is a very powerful tool in your sales arsenal. You can quickly use them to win over a prospect or convince a customer to follow your advice. (If you haven’t yet developed this critical selling skill, I highly recommend you do.)
Yet, few salespeople understand the most powerful story they tell is the one they tell themselves. Every salesperson out there has an internal story running through their head each day. When you are prospecting, cold calling, or presenting information about your products, we tell ourselves, which is also called the inner narrative. When driving down the farm driveway to call on a customer, you are telling yourself a story about what you are doing and how it either helps or hurts that customer.
This internal story can build confidence and make us the hero. However, far too often, we tell ourselves a story that erodes our self-image into a peddler of unnecessary products.
See if any of these common thoughts cross your mind at times:
- “I don’t want to bother them”
- “I don’t want to be a nuisance”
- “I want them to want me on their farm”
- “I better not bother them right now, it’s _______________”
- Planting, harvest, Monday morning, Friday afternoon, just before or after the holidays, raining, snowing, a nice day, markets went down….”
- “I treat the little guy no different than the big guy” as an excuse to stop at the small farm customer or avoid the big farmer we are afraid to call on.
- “I can’t call on an account that big. They know more about agronomy, nutrition, tractors…. than I do” as an excuse not to call on that big account.
- “I don’t want to be the typical pushy salesperson”
- “I don’t want to be that salesperson that my dad hated”
- “Farmers aren’t buying right now because _______________”
- Interest rates went up, prices went up, commodity prices went down, fertilizer went up, or cattle markets are off.
If you are like the many salespeople who I work with in training workshops, you have these thoughts running through your head daily. You even get proof that your customers think this way when they tell you how terrible the other salespeople are that call on them.
This inner dialogue is a confidence killer. However, there are some ways to convert these confidence-killing thoughts into helpful selling thoughts. It takes some mental flexibility or mental gymnastics. It involves reshaping the past and applying it to your current and future activities.
When coaching a salesperson or working with them in training workshops, I like to run through these comments as I did here. I ask if anyone has ever had these thoughts. Of course, all their hands go up.
Next, I go through and pull out the ultra-negative words highlighted above: bother, pushy, nuisance, dad hated, etc.
I ask them, do these words really describe what you do? Do you push products? Do you bother farmers? When you bring your best in a selling situation, are you acting like that salesperson your dad hated or are you helping them to be more productive and successful? By the way, maybe your dad was just a bit cranky.
I explain further. If you truly feel that you are a nuisance, that you bother customers, and that your technical knowledge and your products are not helping, then you lost the sale before you ever left your house in the morning.
Mental Gymnastics to help you sell:
- Pushy-salesy reframe: Reframe this by telling yourself: “I’m not selling anything until I find a need, understand the impact of that need and then I position a solution to that expressed need.” If you truly are diagnosing a problem to the best of your abilities, that is not pushing. It’s helping!
- Bothering reframe: “I don’t bother customers. I help farmers succeed by learning as much as I can about how to use my products, services, company, and network so they can continue to farm.” I do this because I am here to serve our customers so they can become the most successful, they can be That might include financial, time, or emotional benefits. And, I do all of that so me and my company can achieve success.
- Bad experiences, failures, and reframing history: You may be like everyone else who has gone before you. You made mistakes. You had moments in your sales career when you were too pushy, Maybe you did bother customers or had no success in a day or month. Welcome to the club. This happens to every one of us. You are human after all. You aren’t perfect and you will stumble before learning to run with your selling skills. You don’t even have to leave your house to have these negative experiences in sales. You might struggle to pick up the phone today because it’s a week after Thanksgiving and a few weeks before Christmas. And if you do make that call, you might feel that you bothered your customer because they were right in the middle of something important in their business or personal life.
The best mental reframe you can learn is to turn setbacks into steps in your learning and development. Decide that everything that happened before now was a step in your sales development. Narrow your approach each time towards that perfection you are striving for. However, realize you probably aren’t going to reach perfection.
Yet, you can and will learn from every experience, good or bad.