Everything You Need to Know about Your Sales Leadership Mindset

By Jim Cathcart

What is a mindset anyway? Everyone talks about it, but some folks have no clue what you’re referring to.

I define it as the point of view, perspective, or position from which one views the world. In earlier generations, they called it “attitude.”

That term took on new meaning for me when, as a young man, I was watching the NASA moon landing on TV. The narrator was talking about the “attitude” of the spacecraft. Attitude? I was confused. How can a thing have an attitude? Then I realized he was referring to the angle at which the astronauts were approaching the moon – and the view that was available to them from that position. The attitude of the spacecraft afforded them only a partial view of the moon’s surface and, though much more was there to be seen, they couldn’t see it from their point of view.

Now, substitute the word “mindset” for the word “attitude” and you will get it. The setting of our mind to a particular viewpoint will determine whether we see the whole picture or just a partial or misleading portion of the whole truth.

How Do Beliefs Shape Your Mindset?

For example: if you believe that people are fundamentally bad and not to be trusted, then you will tend to interpret even the most loving acts as mere manipulations to win favor. On the other hand, if you believe that people are more good than bad, then you’ll be more balanced in your interpretation of their actions and intentions.

If you perceive a prospect to have limited potential for buying, then you will not probe and explore additional ways in which you could serve him or her. So, instead of a huge enterprise sale, you might get just a one-time order.

In sales leadership it is essential to embrace a mindset of being aware of your own mindset. A mindset of your mindset? Yes, self-awareness is the vital starting point for leadership. You must be aware of the position from which you lead. That will also help you notice other people’s mindset, which will allow you to lead them more effectively.

An Example of a Damaging Mindset

I once worked for an auto dealer whose mindset was that people either could sell or could not. It was part of who they are, so there was little justification for trying to improve them. Hence, the dealer did almost no sales training. They taught us about our products and had us shadow other salespeople at first – then we were on our own to sink or swim. I sank.

After two months in this highly supervised and impersonal  dealership, with no trust or encouragement, I got a call to the manager’s office. He said to me, “Jim, terminations are seldom pleasant.” I was shocked and replied, “You’re firing me? Why?” He explained that they always fired the person with the fewest sales each month. In my first month I had been third from last and they had fired two guys. This month I was last, so…

Think about that mindset. Seeing people that way caused them to have constant turnover, no employee loyalty, and a culture of dishonesty and manipulation. It was the only time I’d ever been fired and I’m truly glad it happened. That was in the 1970s and, ever since then, I’ve thought differently about sales. I wanted to do good for people, to help them, but my employer just wanted me to exploit them. The impact of that mindset awareness moment led me to later develop Relationship Selling™, my trademark system that caused me to become a professional speaker and author.

The Mindset of Relationship Selling™

The mindset of Relationship Selling™ is that relationships (connections with others through which value is exchanged) are assets – and should be protected and developed. When you see relationships as assets, you nurture them and form new ones intentionally and carefully. After all, a great relationship with the wrong person can easily become a liability. And even a superficial relationship with the right person can begin to open new opportunities. The more value you bring them, the more value they can provide you.

Begin today to notice not only what people say and do, but also the point of view from which they are approaching it. If someone tells you about a sales call they made, probe and ask them about what the customer was feeling and what their own main purpose was for the call (get money or help people). Become aware of mindset in every situation and you’ll also become sensitive to new points of view.

Once, on a tour of The White House with a group of fellow past presidents of the National Speakers Association, then-U.S. president Bill Clinton spent a few minutes in the foyer with us. One of our group said, “Mr. President, we are professional speakers and, in many ways, so are you.” His reply stuck with me all these years later. He said, “Half of my job is keeping people in the right frame of mind.” Mindset – there you have it. Even world leaders are aware of its importance. Perhaps you and I should be as well.

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is a Top 1% TEDx speaker and the author of 18 books. He’s the sales consultant and motivator who popularized the concept and practice of “Relationship Selling.” Jim is a regular contributor to Selling Power and a certified Peak Performance Mindset Trainer. Contact Jim at Cathcart.com.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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