What does it take to be successful in sales? One key to success is your ability to get into the minds of your customers and prospects to understand among many things, who they are, what they want and don’t want, what’s important to them, and how to close the deal. But what about your mindset and the role it plays?
In sport, it has become increasingly “normal” that athletes and teams are focusing on their mental game in order to decrease the gap between what they are capable of and how they perform, particularly when it matters most. For example, Major League Baseball has been one of the recent leaders in this area with all but a few teams integrating mental performance into the services they offer the athletes as well as in some cases utilizing these professionals to assist with team culture. However, athletes aren’t the only ones who can benefit from exploring and investing in their mental performance. Anyone in sport, exercise, or other performance areas, such as the performing arts, law, medicine, military, and business, can benefit from exploring and leveraging their mindsets to perform more optimally and consistently for their own benefit as well as to the benefit of the teams within which they may work.
While there are many areas that can be targeted in mental training and coaching, such as confidence, resilience, motivation, focus, performing under pressure, and leadership, an important starting point is the exploration of one’s mindset.
When we encounter a particular situation or event, for example a conversation with your boss about your sales numbers, it triggers thoughts and feelings that then determine what you do and don’t do, and ultimately your performance. Over time, as you experience and navigate various situations and events, you develop habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving. These habits are driven by underlying beliefs, some advantageous and others limiting, and they determine largely your attitudes and perspectives on yourself and your capabilities, others, and the situations you are in. The intention of this process is to help you be more effective and efficient; thus, it can be what helps you succeed, however, it can also at other times lead you to develop mindsets and habits that undermine rather than fuel optimal performance.
To get started exploring your mindset and how it plays a role in your work, go through the following exercise:
1. Identify a few situations that you can profile.
a. These can be a variety of work-related situations (for example, a sales call, a meeting with your boss, and a networking event).
b. They can be similar situations (for example, a sales call with a new prospect, one with a prospect that is closer to the sale, one with someone you immediately felt a good fit with, and one with someone you felt like you couldn’t figure out or connect with)
c. You can profile situations that have happened over time (for example, a situation where you closed a deal at the start of your career versus one now).
d. You can even include some non-work related situations if you think that might be useful to compare and contrast against how you are at work versus in other situations (for example, you as an athlete versus you in your job).
2. For EACH situation, answer these questions:
a. Describe the situation (what happened?).
b. What did you think or say to yourself?
c. How did you feel (emotions, body sensations such as increased heart rate)?
d. What did you do or not do?
e. What underlying belief seemed to be guiding you throughout that situation?
f. Is this typical of how you are in this type of situation, or are there some variations in how you are? When, why, how?
3. Look for discrepancies, patterns, tendencies across the situations.
4. What stands out most to you?
Taking a look at how you “show up” in various situations helps you to know yourself better so you can respond instead of react, develop high performance habits, identify your keys to success, and highlight mental performance areas that you can target to develop and sustain optimal performance. Ultimately, this enables you to leverage your mind, deliver your best, and continue to get better every day.
Dr. Lauren S. Tashman, CMPC is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). She provides mental performance coaching, leadership advising, and team/organization culture consultation to clients in New York City and worldwide.