Beliefs become your reality.

I have opened hundreds of my sales seminars with this concept. As I do it, I see lots of salespeople and managers in the audience waiting impatiently for the meat of my presentation. But this concept is the meat, and it’s possibly the most important sales and career advice you’ll ever receive. So let me repeat:

Your beliefs shape your behaviors. Your behaviors produce results. Your results become your reality.

This was illustrated during a coaching session I had with Dillon, a young salesperson for a Midwestern LBM dealer. His assignment was to cold call with the explicit purpose of generating introductory appointments with prospects. I warned him that builders and remodelers would ask him to quote projects in lieu of actual meetings, but that the “opportunity to bid” was not the assignment. My advice was to decline bid opportunities and only meet with prospects who were willing to have initial meetings (plural!) before offering any pricing.

Predictably, he told me that he had encountered several builders who were interested in pricing but didn’t have time to meet. Dillon asked for advice, and I recommended that he keep on prospecting for a better opportunity. He called a prospect who promised to meet with him, but only after a price was available. I warned Dillon that this was a common tactic by builders to get pricing and avoid meeting salespeople. If this were to occur, I suggested that Dillon decline the offer to email or fax his price. No meeting, no price.

Any LBM sales veteran knows where this story is headed. Dillon was refused the meeting after investing two hours in a takeoff and proposal. He told me that the builder wanted him to email his proposal. I told Dillon, “I recommend you pass, but you probably won’t because you don’t want your work to go to waste. If you choose to email it, the builder will tell you your price is too high.”

Dillon faxed his proposal. The builder said his price was too high. Dillon lost the sale, exactly as I had predicted.

What lessons can we learn from this story?

  1. Great leaders don’t micromanage, they teach wisdom and beliefs, and thus must allow their performers to fail in order to develop those beliefs. It took a few months before Dillon called me to say of a builder who was refusing a meeting but wanting a price: “I really don’t want to waste my time quoting him if he won’t meet me.” That was the moment I knew a new belief system had become entrenched. Dillon will retain that valuable lesson forever.
  2. Pay close attention to negative statements and complaints. I’ve heard hundreds of salespeople express negative expectations: “My market is different; it’s a price-driven market.” “Opportunity is scarce.” “Our product is just a commodity that the prospect can buy anywhere.” “Competition is tough.” And so on. These statements become beliefs that sabotage results.
  3. Retrain your brain by changing self-talk. Tell yourself: “Sales leaders emerge in every market, and I will be the leader in mine.” Or: “Opportunity is abundant and I am only getting a small percentage of the market right now, leaving lots of room to prospect and grow!” Or: “I help my clients manage costs to increase my value and justify a higher price.” And: “My competition is beatable, and I’m going to wait for them to make a mistake and be there to capitalize on it when they do.” These statements contradict negative self-talk and produce successful outcomes.

Sales is a competition. The teams and individuals who outcompete their opponents are the ones who develop the mental toughness and beliefs to win. Eliminate negative talk and excuses for failure. New talk creates new beliefs. New positive beliefs produce positive results and a new outlook in your career and life.