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Jonathan Dawson

Jonathan Dawson Virtual Sales Training | Dealer Consulting | Speaker | Dealership Training

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Why 90% Will Fail at S.A.L.E.S. - Does Your Team Practice These 5 Life Skills?

6f6056cf350339e2805bd0831f8b2773.jpg?t=1The biggest objection salespeople will get in their sales career is not from a customer but from inside themselves. This is why I believe it’s critical for a salesperson to learn life skills in addition to honing their sales skills.

I use the word S.A.L.E.S as a memory word for some of the fundamental life skills needed to succeed in sales. Each letter in the word S.A.L.E.S. represents a life skill that salespeople need to practice.


S in S.A.L.E.S. stands for State

State is your physiological and emotional state of being. Unfortunately, most of us allow situations and circumstances of our day dictate our state. But if you do that, you will forever be controlled by your environment. I invite you to consider that you can learn how to bring on positive emotions and positive body language on demand.

Try this exercise. If your mood is neutral or frustrated right now, do this: rub your hands together really fast for 20 seconds. Then, yell “It’s show time!” out loud as you clap your hands. Next, put a big smile on your face or even laugh out loud. It’s okay if it feels fake at first – keep doing it and you’ll notice how after acting excited for a minute or so you’ll feel less frustrated. You’ve just actively changed your body language and emotions from neutral/frustrated to positive.

The key here is practice! If you practice, eventually you could do this type of a physiological and emotional switch without clapping your hands and in response to something more subtle, like finger snapping.

How critical is this skill of actively changing your physiology and emotions? Well, answer this – how critical is it to a have a positive mental attitude when you’re about to make follow-up calls? Or how critical is it to have a smile on your face when you go greet a new customer after you just learned that your customer from yesterday bought somewhere else? Or how critical is it to be positively charged for your next appointment if you haven’t sold anything in a few days?

If you do not learn to control your emotional and physiological reactions, then situations and circumstances of your day will control you. Practice changing your state from neutral/frustrated to a positive state actively and on purpose!


The letter A in S.A.L.E.S. stands for Attitude

I don’t need to tell you how important it is to have the right attitude in our profession. I teach my students these 2 key principles of attitude management: 1) attitude mastery is a skill, and 2) you can determine your attitude in advance.

1)      Attitude mastery is a skill

Without managing it, our attitude tends to be a reflection of our situation or circumstance. So when a customer acts a certain way, we then respond with a particular attitude. If the customer buys from me, in response to that my attitude becomes that of gratitude. However, if a customer doesn’t show up for an appointment, or if they have unreasonable expectations on pricing, my attitude tends to get negative and I get frustrated. Why? Because according to most people’s rules, when things go a certain way, they respond with a certain attitude.

We tend to be very reactionary with our attitudes. When this happens, it causes me to have this attitude.

I want to challenge you to change your attitude on purpose and learn how to master it. If you think of your attitude as a skill, you can learn to manage it and master it just like any other skill. In mastering your sales career, it’s expected that you practice your product knowledge, your negotiation skills, or your presentation skills. If you think of your attitude as a skill, then you develop and practice it just like any other skill.

2)      You can determine your attitude in advance

In my early sales career, I used to allow my attitude to be shaped by circumstances. For example, I often reacted defensively when customers told me my dealership was their 1st stop. I would assume they will take my time but then go buy elsewhere. This caused me to have a negative attitude.

I gradually began to realize the detrimental nature of having my attitude be determined by circumstances. And I decided to figure out how to be in control of my attitude.

The first step in learning how to master your attitude is to recognize the events or situations that trigger your negative attitude.

In the next few days, start paying attention to what causes your attitude to shift from positive or neutral to negative. Is it an event? Or specific words from a customer? Or a manager asking you to do something?

If you recognize a pattern, you can then begin to be proactive and actually change your attitude in advance. So in my example, I recognized that a customer saying this was their 1st stop was one of my triggers.

The next step in attitude mastery is to ask yourself, “What is positive about this situation and how can it help me change my attitude?”

I decided that going forward, I’ll think of the 1st stop response as having 2 positive outcomes for me.

The first positive outcome is that out of all the choices in the market, the customer chose my dealership as the most desirable place to go to first. Just think about it – customers typically dislike car shopping so wouldn’t it make sense that they would look for shortcuts to make the process shorter? So being chosen first is actually a positive sign because it tells you the customer thinks they’re likely to do business with you!

The second positive outcome of being the 1st stop is you get to set standards that all other salespeople or dealerships will have to meet. If you’re outstanding in your service, if you provide an unforgettable experience and if you offer solutions, the customer is likely to come back to you for the final purchase even if they decide to visit other dealerships.

These 2 steps of managing your attitude can be applied to almost any other situation that causes average salespeople have a negative attitude.


L in S.A.L.E.S. stands for mastering your Language.

The language we use is important because words carry meaning, and meaning defines how we should or would respond.

I often hear salespeople describe their customers using demeaning words. It’s common for some to say that customers are liars, for example. If you think using these words has no impact on your business, you’re deceiving yourself.

Other salespeople use negative language to describe themselves. They say things like “I’m not a good closer” or “I can’t hold gross” or “I am not good at getting referrals.” Using such words does not increase your motivation, creativity, or positive outlook on life.

So consider the language you use. Start using positive words to describe yourself, your customers, your day and your abilities. Make a decision today to master your Language so you can master SALES.


E in the word S.A.L.E.S. stands for Energy

You need to learn to master your Energy if you want to succeed in S.A.L.E.S.

There are 6 primary sources of energy:

1. Food – the food you choose will give you energy or take it away
2. Focus – what you decide to focus on, your energy will be directed there
3. Feelings – I define feelings as the filter by which we process our world
4. Faith – it could be spiritual faith or general faith in what you believe is possible in your career and life
5. Family – for many of us, our family is the driving source of energy behind our sacrifices and hard work
6. Friends – the friends you choose can infuse your life with positive energy and support or suck the energy out of your dreams and goals

Look at each source of energy and ask yourself: Am I being intentional at surrounding myself with positive sources of energy?


S in the word S.A.L.E.S. stands for Strategy

Having a strategy for success means that you have a plan by which you’re going to make adjustments in all these different areas: State, Attitude, Language and Energy. Here are just some examples of strategies for you to become a master of S.A.L.E.S.:

  • Dedicate each day of the week to one of these 5 life skills. So on Monday, practice changing your state. On Tuesday, focus on deciding your attitude in advance, etc.
  • Replace a daily or weekly 30 minute TV show with reading a blog or a book on self-improvement
  • Ask someone to become your mentor or coach to keep you accountable


To summarize, in order to succeed at S.A.L.E.S., you need to practice the following life skills:


  • State – You need to actively manage your emotional and physiological reactions
  • Attitude – Learn to determine your attitude in advance
  • Language – Use positive words to describe yourself, your customers, your day and your abilities
  • Energy – Evaluate the 6 primary sources of energy in your life. Start being intentional at surrounding yourself with positive sources of energy.
  • Strategy – What is your plan for success? How will you develop all these life skills?

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