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Having the right attitude is so critical to success in sales, yet few salespeople and managers know how to get that “right attitude.”
In this article I want to share specific techniques to help you master your attitude. It will involve believing in and learning these 2 key principle of attitude management:
1. Mastering attitude is a skill
Most people think their attitude is a natural and appropriate reaction to something or someone in their environment.
Our attitudes tend 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 does what I want them to do it and if they buy from me, in response to that my attitude becomes that of gratitude. However, if a customer doesn’t do what I want, if they don’t show up for their 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.
When attitude management becomes a skill, it stops being something that happens to you reactively and begins to be something that you can proactively practice and manage.
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 a customer asked me a question, such as, “What is your best price?” I would justify my position and I would feel that in some way the customer’s accusing me of not providing massive value.
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 asking about best price was one of my triggers. Hearing that question would trigger my negative attitude.
That’s the first step - recognizing what affects your attitude.
The next step is to ask yourself, “What is positive about this situation and how can it help me change my attitude?”
I spent a few minutes reflecting on why a customer would ask about best price and decided that going forward, I’ll interpret this question as receiving 2 compliments!
The first compliment is the customer saying, “I want what you have.” You see, I’ve never asked for the best price on something that I didn’t have a genuine interest in. For example, I’ve never asked anyone in my life what the best price is for a life-sized garden gnome. My guess is that some places sell garden gnomes at more competitive prices, but I’ve personally never asked that question because my interest level in owning a life-sized garden gnome is incredibly low.
However, when I find something I really want, like a big screen TV, my interest level in knowing what the best price I can buy it for is much higher. And the more I want it, the more I want to know how I can buy it. So when asked about best price, I started thinking about it as the customer saying, “This is what I really want!”
The 2nd compliment is the customer saying, “I want to do business with you.” Again, I’ve never asked anybody for the best price that I didn’t want to do business with. Or I’ve never asked about best price if I didn’t believe they could give me the best price. For example, when do you ask someone for help if you don’t believe that person could help you?
So next time a customer asked me about best price, I would immediately smile. I would smile because I decided in advance to interpret this question as compliments. My new attitude caused me to smile instead of getting defensive or upset!
With a big smile on my face, I would say to my customers,” Thank you so much for asking this question. I really appreciate the compliment.” As I say that, they would usually have a completely confused look on their faces. I would then express to them what I just expressed to you: “You know, folks, I’ve never had anybody ask me for the best price on something they didn’t want, which tells me you like this vehicle and want it. It also tells me that I’ve done a really good job in helping you determine that this is the right vehicle for you. By asking about best price, you’re also letting me know that you believe I will help you get what you want. And so thank you for asking the question. Let me share with you why I believe this is a fantastic price.”
By having a positive attitude and approaching the conversation from that angle, it often completely changed the tone of the conversation. Instead of it being fearful and hostile, like in the past when I had a defensive attitude, it was now enjoyable and pleasant.
These steps of managing your attitude can be applied to almost any other situation that causes average salespeople have a negative attitude.
As an exercise, take a look at these common questions or comments from customers that can be interpreted as negative and could trigger a negative attitude. What is positive about them? And how can you use their positive aspect to determine your attitude in advance?
To summarize, if you think of your attitude as a skill, you’ll start to work on it and develop it just like you do with any other sales skill. Determine the common triggers that tend to shift your attitude from positive to negative. Then ask yourself, “What is positive about this situation and how can I change my attitude accordingly?”
Going through these steps will help you change the definition of many situations and change the way you see things. If you practice it, you can develop a positive attitude, just like you’ve developed any other skill.