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Sep 07

3 Proven Psychological Strategies to Add Years to Your Life!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Confidence , Self Improvement , Stress Management

No, we haven’t found the fountain of youth. However, psychologists and neuroscientists have conducted a ton of research regarding how people can flourish in this life and enjoy happiness, while actually extending their lives— in both a physically and mentally healthy way. This post truly captures the essence of the three most powerful, research-based psychological strategies to make this happen – quickly and permanently!

1. Maintain optimistic expectations

Optimistic expectations can help you challenge setbacks that come your way. Neuroscientists have discovered that self-talk can actually re-wire your brain in either a very positive or very negative way, depending on whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. This re-wiring process is called “neuroplasticity.” One of the best ways of changing your thinking is to develop an optimistic interpretation of negative events that you experience.

Burgeoning research by Dr. Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”) involved hundreds of studies where people were trained to change their hard-wiring from reacting to disappointing events pessimistically, to reacting optimistically. Thus effectively changing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness (the main contributors to depression) to hope and self-confidence helped them eliminate their feelings of depression.

Many of these studies also show when people develop an optimistic attribution of negative events, they can often recover from the physical challenges associated with chronic depression and anxiety.

So, how do you explain setbacks and unfortunate events to yourself?

How do you persevere and remain resilient under adverse circumstances?

Do you look at setbacks as overwhelming catastrophes or as hurdles that can be overcome?

[Tweet “Be #optimistic, laugh often—build a strong support system. Find out how to extend your life:”]

How Pessimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this kind of self-talk as “linguistic toxicity.” When bad things happen, pessimistically hard-wired people tell themselves such things as:

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my fault.”)
  • Permanent (“It’s a permanent flaw.”)
  • Pervasive (“It’s always going to be this way for the rest of my life.”)

How Pessimistic People View Good Outcomes

When good things happen to pessimistically hard-wired people, they view it as

  • External Cause (“It was a fluke, or luck.”)
  • Temporary (“This won’t last.”)
  • Exclusive (“I was lucky with this, but the rest of my life is awful.”)

How Optimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this type of self-talk as “linguistic nutrition.” People who are hard-wired, or learn to give themselves optimistic explanations for setbacks, view them as follows:

  • External Cause (“This was a fluke and an exception to the rule of how things go with me.”)
  • Temporary (“This is a fluke occurrence. It won’t happen again.”)
  • Exclusivity (“I had difficulty dealing with this, but in the rest of my life I am thriving.”)

How Optimistic People View Good Outcomes

People that are optimistic expect good outcomes to occur frequently.

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my skills, work ethic and motivation that caused this to happen.”)
  • Permanent (“I certainly expect good things to continually happen to me.”)
  • Pervasive (“This is just one example in my life where I have the skills and talent to be successful.”)

Obviously, it is extremely important for people who are not hard-wired to attribute unfortunate outcomes in an optimistic sense, to learn how to remove their pessimistic thinking habits, and change them to positive thinking.

2.  Laugh as often as possible

Research on the amazingly powerful effects of laughing on the body and mind started with the groundbreaking book by Norman Cousins (“The Anatomy of an Illness”).  Cousins chronicled how he completely recovered from a terminal diagnosis by laughing out loud several times a day, for at least a few minutes each time.  He produced the humor by watching the funniest videos he could find (“The Three Stooges,” “Candid Camera,” and others) while hospitalized for his illness.

Once he saw how his pain subsided while laughing, he convinced the medical staff to take his blood pre and post laughing episodes.  The results were remarkable.

His symptoms immediately went into remission, and he helped fund massive research projects studying the power effects of laughing and having fun on brain chemistry, and the eradication of physical symptoms.  One of the more modern advocates of the power of bringing fun and humor into ones’ life is Dr. Steve Allen, Jr., a physician and the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen.

3.  Maintain a strong support system of friends and family

Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans and each year close to 43,000 commit suicide in this country. Recent research into how to minimize depression without using psychotropic medication demonstrates the idea of an “Anti-Depression Toolkit.”

Three powerful tools in the toolkit are are:

a) using healthy self-talk (“linguistic nutrition”)

b) any form of spirituality, including prayer and meditation

c) frequent exercise.

However, the most important “tool” by far is having a caring, empathetic, and non-judgmental support system.  While depressed individuals often lack the energy or motivation to reach out, it is a critical component of mental health. For example, widows and widowers are particularly vulnerable—having lost their soul mate, and they can slip into depression if they do not build an alternative support system. If you suffer from depression, you must also stay away from critical, judgmental, anxiety-provoking, and demanding people. You can always consult with a therapist to decide who to include and exclude from your network.

Research shows that when one has a strong support network their emotional strength grows. This means getting involved with an objective sounding board of like-minded peers, and removing yourself from the isolation that accompanies depression. Social interaction is conducive to a healthy and active lifestyle.

There you have it. Do you want to build amazing resilience to stress, add joy to your life, and extend your well-being far more than you have ever dreamed? Add an optimistic and expected habit. It brings fun and laughter into each day, and nourishes your support system.

Aug 04

Simple Secrets for Using the Power of Positive Affirmations to Supercharge Your Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

Since Ruth Fishel published her classic book, Change Almost Anything in 21 Days,” the power of using positive affirmations has gained much attention.  We now know from the rich research conducted in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that our belief systems and the thoughts connected with them drive our success or failure.

Much outcome research has been conducted with sales professionals. Why do some sales professionals get overwhelmed and flee the profession within a year, while others flourish and continue to build successful careers?  The answer lies in the self-talk habits that sales professionals bring with them when they first enter the profession and continue to use as they adapt to the stresses and strains of selling as a career.

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations, positive or negative, are the statements we make to ourselves, based on how we interpret the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment.

All too often, our affirmations are negative and self-defeating, such as “That client said ‘no’ to the sale because I screwed up.”

Such a negative affirmation will produce serious damage to the sales professional’s confidence and self-esteem, thus leading to more “failed sales attempts,” and a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling hopeless and helpless results in continual selling failures.

The good news is that we have choices in the types of affirmations that we say to ourselves, and positive affirmations said consistently can have powerful benefits, both in career success and even your health.

World-renowned experts, such as Dr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of the Positive Psychology Movement, point to many cases of people overcoming devastating illnesses, using positive thinking, including repeating positive affirmations.

Dr. Seligman sites 40 years of his own research connecting sales success with affirmations that sales professionals use to maintain an attitude of optimism and gratefulness, discarding “failed” sales as flukes and focusing on the next sales opportunity.

5 Characteristics of Successful Affirmations

1. They must be positive.

The verbiage must always be positive. For example, saying, ”I am confident about my sales skills” is much better than saying “I no longer doubt myself in terms of my sales skills.”

2. The must be said with passion and gusto.

When we believe that our affirmations are true and in the present, and we repeat them with power and energy, we begin the process of conditioning our subconscious minds to actually strive toward making these beliefs true in the present.

Affirmations must be given more than lip service. When you say it with conviction, feel it by visualizing it as real, and let the wonderful feelings of having already accomplished this, then you re-program your mind and your body to accept it as part of the new you.

“I know that what I have to offer my customers will absolutely impact them in a positive way and they will thank me over and over for providing these products (or services) to them!”

[Tweet “Supercharge your #sales success with positive affirmations! Learn how here.”]

3. They must be said in the present moment.

Our subconscious minds do not know whether something is happening in reality or in our minds. For example, if you close your eyes and visualize holding a half of a lemon and see yourself taking a juicy bite out of it, you will salivate, as your subconscious mind believes this visualization is in fact really happening.  Our bodies respond to what we think about just as if it were actually happening at that moment.

So, with affirmations, be sure to state them in the most positive way and as if they are happening and real, right now. Even if you don’t know who your next prospect is, state it as if you have already met this potential customer:

“I know exactly how my product (service) will benefit this customer and if I were this customer’s best friend, I know exactly what I would say right now to convince him to buy.”

4. They must be realistic.

Giving yourself unrealistic affirmations sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Positive affirmations should reflect views of yourself and your success that are truly possible, not only in your fantasies.   For example, I cannot realistically affirm that I am becoming a famous actor or athlete, but I can affirm that I am a terrific psychologist and mentor for sales professionals.

5. They must be personal.

We can only make affirmations about ourselves, not what we want other people to be.  So, give yourself affirmations about your success as a sales professional, living out your career goals in the present.

A wonderful example of using a positive affirmation to explain ones’ success, despite missed opportunities in the past, is this quote from Michael Jordan:

I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and I have missed.  I have failed over and over again in my life.  And that’s precisely why I succeed!”

How to Get Started Using Positive Affirmations

  • Use your computer desktop to post your affirmations and repeat them at least 10 times a day, rotating new ones weekly
  • Use sticky notes posted on your bathroom mirror so you will begin to repeat your affirmations while brushing your teeth or brushing your hair
  • Use more sticky notes on your refrigerator, your car visor, or other places that you frequent daily
  • Use affirmations as mantras to use during meditation, while engaged in yoga and while conducting mindfulness exercises

The key to success is repetition and, as Ruth Fishel has shown, if you are consistent, you can change your life and your success in as little as 21 days!

May 26

The Important Link Between Optimism and Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

How do you explain unfortunate events to yourself, such as not getting the sale? Is the tone of your self-talk optimistic or pessimistic? As it turns out, the way you explain negative life events matters because there is a link between optimism and sales success. Based on over 1000 studies, we know that optimism has the power to boost your sales.

Research on the link between optimism and sales began with an investigation of a major life insurance carrier, and since then it has been replicated in more than 1000 studies over 40 years, across many industries and sales organizations. The findings of these studies proves definitively that maintaining an optimistic explanatory style brings dramatic success.

Optimistic VS Pessimistic Explanatory Styles

Explaining Failures

It boils down to how you explain unfortunate events to yourself.  For example, if a sales professional has a disappointing sales call, how does he/she react and explain that disappointment to himself/herself?  People with an OPTIMISTIC explanatory style rationalize the “failure.” They see it as a fluke, a temporary setback and not representative of who they are in general.

A person with a PESSIMISTIC explanatory style, on the other hand, will view unfortunate events as directly related to their inadequacy. They see it as a permanent issue and representative of other “failures” in their lives.  They often view the situation as an insurmountable obstacle and conclude that they may need to consider a change in career.  Sales professionals who quit or are fired are most often pessimistic in their explanatory style.

Explaining Successes

When good outcomes occur, such as closing a sale, OPTIMISTS believe it was exactly because of their skill. These successes will repeat themselves and they view the success as proof that they have the talent to continue to be successful.  Optimists have what social scientists refer to as an “Internal Locus of Control.”  They perceive that outcomes are in their control.

When good outcomes occur to PESSIMISTS, they are more likely view them as “lucky.” The success was temporary and not indicative of their skill and effort.  Pessimists embrace an “External Locus of Control,” where they believe that circumstances beyond their control impact them constantly.

This ground-breaking research by Dr. Martin Seligman led to a questionnaire which can easily determine whether someone tends to maintain an optimistic or pessimistic explanatory style. Knowing the link between optimism and sales, companies often use this instrument to select the optimistic applicants.

Want to learn more? Check out Dr. Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. You can also take this Learned Optimism quiz from Stanford, which is adapted from the book.

Research on Optimism and Sales

Here is a sample of the many research findings that show a clear link between optimism and sales:

Insurance

Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.

Real Estate

Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent.

Banking

Top sales people are 25 percent more optimistic than below-average sales people.

Automotive

Optimistic sales people outsell pessimists by 20 percent, and optimistic sales managers outsell pessimists by 27 percent.

Telecommunications

Optimistic sales people outsell pessimists by 29 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 39 percent.

Customer Service

Top customer service staff are 50 percent more optimistic than below-average staff.

In addition, optimism is good for more than just posting excellent sales numbers. Research also shows that optimistic people live longer and have stronger immune systems.

The link between optimism and sales may have you wondering – are you doomed if you are hard-wired with “Pessimistic Genes?”  Absolutely not!  Developing optimism can be easily learned, so there is hope for all professionals. Every individual can start today by practicing a more optimistic style of self-talk. Also, if you think your sales team could benefit from a lesson, I am available to help – just email me at DrJack@FunSpeaker.com or give me a call at 800-497-9880.

May 24

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 5

By Dr. Jack Singer | Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Friday Finale

Today is “Friday Finale!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 5 of a 5 part series.

Part 1: Gameplan for Sales Success

Part 2 : Triumphant Tales Tuesday

Part 3: Wednesday Workshop

Part 4: Mental Toughness Thursday

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports CoachThis is the final day of my week long Game Plan for Sales Success. Just like the first day, Magic Monday, the intent of this wrap-up day is to provide fun and more bonding to end the week long training program.

When a football team is preparing to face an opponent on Saturday, Friday is the day for a no pads, relaxed “walk through” and team bonding. For sales professionals, the game plan to develop revamped selling skills, new products or services, and learning best practices from each other has now been conducted and the final day is the time for a wrap up, which may be accomplished with low stress team building exercises and work-games. There are many workbooks on the market, describing sales training exercises and games.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Friday Finale Agenda

#1. Open the day with a fun icebreaker exercise: The Human Treasure Hunt. This is my favorite exercise to begin a training day. Hand out a page that contains a checklist of what attendees need to gather among their colleagues. The checklist actually describes characteristics of the attendees, rather than things. The first person to complete the checklist wins a nice prize.

Each of the items on the checklist begins with this sentence opening: “Find two colleagues who…”

You can have fun items, such as “Find two colleagues who have the same birth month as you” or “enjoys the same flavor of ice cream.” And…you can have job-related items, such as “Find two colleagues who have been recognized for their success selling (a product or service) and ask them the secrets of their success.”

By blending fun and job-related items, the Human Treasure Hunt becomes a great way to open the day. It also has a side benefit of allowing more networking among all of the participants.

Now, the first person to complete the checklist doesn’t win the prize until she/he reports the information in front of the entire audience, so when approaching people to get information for the checklist, participants need to carefully listen for their names and listen carefully to what they tell them, so they can accurately repeat the information to the audience. For example: “Mary Jones and Tom Smith both have been honored for their sales success this year. Mary attributes her success to….and Tom attributes his success to…”

This trains participants to listen carefully, memorize the material, and then present it correctly.

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#2. Games for building rapport with customers. Like all sales games, these customer rapport building games can be conducted individually or in teams, which compete with each other. One hilarious way of practicing these skills is by using improvisation methods. This stimulates thinking on your feet, and having excellent communications and careful listening skills.

In one of these games, Alphabet Soup, divide the participants into pairs, and have them choose who takes the role of sales person and who takes the role of customer for round one. In round two, they will switch roles.

Set up this game by telling everyone that they are in a sales setting with their product or service being discussed with a prospective customer. The sales person starts by making a comment about the product or service, but the comment must begin with the letter “A.” The person playing the customer role responds, but his/her response must start with the letter “B.”

The two continue alternating sentences until they complete the last statement or response with the letter “Z.”

This can get hilarious and teaches quick thinking, while building rapport with a customer.

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#3. Games for improving listening skills. Developing wonderful listening skills is critical for the success of any professional sales person. I like to begin by teaching a method of listening that I call the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. model. While a description of this model is beyond the scope of this article and can be found detailed elsewhere, let me summarize each heading in the model.

Treat your customers with respect and value each one.

Reflect the meaning of what your customer is telling you before you actually respond to it.

“I” statements are most powerful.

Understand the needs and goals of the customer before trying to sell.

Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the customer, as well as the content of what she/he is telling you.

Probe gently and with respect.

Help the customer feel safe in the conversation.

Summarize frequently during your conversation to ensure that you are hearing what the customer is trying to relate to you.

Once your audience has a thorough understanding of this model, you can ask for two volunteers: one to play the role of sales person and one for customer. Have them come to the front of the room and have the “customer” role play the type of customer with whom your team members typically deals. Have the role playing “sales person” try to listen to the needs and goals of the customer, and the objections or concerns about the product/service, etc. After 10 minutes or so, stop the exercise and ask the “customer” whether he/she felt listened to. Why or why not did they feel that way?

Once questions are answered and feedback is given, pair up the entire audience and have them practice the skill.

A second exercise is a really funny way to demonstrate how most of us do NOT listen. This is the party-game called Telephone. Get six volunteers to leave the room and give a seventh volunteer a card with some information or a short story written on it. Then call in one volunteer from the other room and have the volunteer with the information read what is on the card to the second person. The second person is then charged with the task of memorizing the information and reporting it (without the card) to the third volunteer. The process proceeds one volunteer at a time until the last volunteer is given the information.

By the time the story is told to six or so people, it is completely distorted from the original. This game is loads of fun, but makes the point about how important listening skills are.

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#4. Games for closing and handling customer objections. Another improvisation exercise can be used in for closing deals and dealing with customer objections. Again, have everyone in the room pair up. One member of the pair will be the customer and the other the sales person, and then the roles can be reversed for a second round with different instructions.

Have all of the “sales people” leave the room and give them their written instructions, while the “customers” get their written instructions separately. Then bring the “sales people” back in, find their “customer” partners and begin the exercise.

Here’s an example of how to set the scene for round 1: The sales people are told that “You only have time to make one more sale today and you only have until the end of this workday to close a sale worth $5000 in order to win a bonus trip to Hawaii.” (Note: if possible, use actual products or services that your team sells.)

The “customer” role players receive these instructions: “You are considering purchasing _____, but you are only interested in one of her/his products today, and it’s the one that sells for $4000.”

Let the fun begin. You’ll hear uproarious laughter throughout the room, as sales people wheel and deal with customers and the customers resist. Many great closing techniques will be demonstrated, which can be presented to the entire room by those “customers” who were actually swayed to purchase the more expensive product.

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#5. Closing exercise. If your team is small enough that everyone knows each other, the Brag Bag exercise is a marvelous way to close the day and the training week. Each attendee has a small paper bag and puts her/his name on it with a permanent marker. Each bag is hung around the room with masking tape, leaving the open end exposed. Now each attendee is given enough small strips of paper to have one for every bag (or attendee).

Here’s the best part: After learning much about their colleagues during the five-day training, each attendee has several positive impressions of each colleague. So, each attendee writes the most positive thing she/he can say about each colleague on separate slips of paper and drops each slip in the appropriate bag. Each attendee then picks up his/her bag and staples it shut. They are not to open the brag bags until they leave the seminar. Imagine the joy and comfort on the way home, waiting for their flight, or when they finally arrive at home, to read a whole group of slips, relating positive feedback from each of their colleagues! What a great way to end your training week.

Of course, for many of you, the training will involve large numbers of attendees, where you will not have much information about the colleagues with whom you did not interact during the week. Therefore, here is a closing exercise for large groups of attendees:

Random Picks 

The trainer reviews the content for the entire week and then each participant writes down an Action Plan for him/herself. I prefer having a handout, with numbered lines on which to write down the actions/behaviors each participant will begin practicing and the date by which they hope to accomplish those actions. A sentence beginning with “I will” can lead off each line. For example, a participant my write down that she/he will “practice listening skills with my spouse or best friend for a week and solicit feedback about how I am doing.” They then write down a date by which they plan to complete the task.

On the bottom of the sheet, they put their names and business telephone numbers. All papers are passed to the front, shuffled and placed in a pile. On the way out of the meeting room, each participant picks a sheet, makes sure it is not his or her own, and commits to call the person whose action plan she/he received, on the date shown on the paper.

The beauty of this exercise is that it serves to stimulate actionable take-aways and commits the participant to follow up, because they will be made accountable by the colleague who received their action plan and will be following up.

Of course, you are free to modify any of the exercises conducted during the five day sales training program. Here’s wishing you the best of continued success in training your sales team for peak performance!

 

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

May 13

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 4

By Dr. Jack Singer | Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Workshop Thursday

Today is “(Mental) Toughness Thursday!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 4 of a 5 part series.

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports CoachThis is the fourth day of my week long Game Plan for Sales Success. The week began by exercises aimed at developing group cohesion, and was followed on Triumphant Tales Tuesday by case studies of sales successes that colleagues in your team can share with each other. Wednesday was the day that sales managers introduced specifics about a new sales push, new products, services, sales strategies etc. Workshop Wednesday was more of a didactic format, so that attendees could be exposed to your power-point, video programs, handouts, etc., teaching them all they need to know about these products and services.

We now have arrived at Thursday, which has the goal of troubleshooting problems sales, disappointments, missed opportunities, etc.  This is where mental toughness comes in.  Elite athletes gain knowledge from setbacks and bounce back quickly.  So, (mental) Toughness Thursday is all about training your team to deal with disappointments, mishaps in sales and missed opportunities.

Like athletes, many sales professionals look at missed opportunities and setbacks as “failures,” which now erodes their self-confidence.  And obviously, loss of self-confidence feeds on itself and undermines performance.  So, you need to teach them to quickly defuse the self-flagellation that could result from perceived “failures.” The best way to do that is by pro-actively putting this skill into the training package during the Toughness Thursday.

Using mental toughness in the face of disappointment is one of the most important ingredients for maintaining focus and overcoming the fear of continual failure. Once the sales professional runs into adversity, it is easy to become distracted from the goal, focusing instead on his perceived failure and the fear of repeating the failure.

Sales Performance= Sales Skill + Knowledge + Motivation  Minus Distractions.

This simple formula tells it all.  The more the distractions, the less the sales performance, regardless of skill, knowledge and motivation.  And, the number one distraction is the negative self-talk that follows setbacks in performance. 

Four training tips to help your sales team overcome negative distractions. 

#1) Stop negative self-talk immediately. Self-limiting, negative and pessimistic internal dialogue (self-talk) always inhibit success. Examples are sentences that begin with: “What if …,” “I hope I don’t . . .” “I should have said . . .” “The client won’t like me if . . .” “I always have problems with . . .” “I probably won’t be able to close this sale,” and “I can’t believe how stupid I was to miss that . . .” Negative, messages that pass through your mind immediately lead to muscle tightening, rapid breathing, and perspiring. These physiological responses are perceived as “stress,” and stress inhibits great performance.

Wear a loose fitting rubber band on your wrist and when negative thoughts go through your mind, snap the rubber band hard enough to stop the thought.  If a rubber band isn’t convenient, tighten a fist as a reminder to stop thinking that way.

Once you succeed in stopping the thought, take a few slow, deep breaths, relax, and change your thoughts to ones that are positive and optimistic. For example, when you catch yourself beginning a thought with “What if…,”  change it immediately to “No big deal.  I’ll learn from this and move on.” Always tell yourself to move on to the next opportunity and never linger on the negative situation that already passed.

Once you have taught your team these tips, pair them up and role play negative thinking scenarios and practice healthy responses.  Share examples with the rest of the team.

#2) Give yourself positive affirmations, continuously.  Regardless of what happened that you are not happy about, look to the next opportunity right now. Fill your thinking with positive affirmations about yourself, such as… “I am a very successful sales professional. In my career, I have bounced back from many disappointments and achieved success. I don’t have to be perfect to be successful, and I don’t have to get every sale to be successful.” 

A great plan is to have each member of your team write down 10 positive affirmations and say each one 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening.  Make sure they write down the affirmations, not just think about them.

# 3) Visualize sales success before you approach potential customers. Visualize yourself preparing for your next sales call and feeling confident as you enter the room. Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin. Picture the customer smiling and nodding in agreement as you show him/her how your product or service is perfect for their needs.

#4) Use the power of goal setting. You are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when you write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about it. Write down short and long-term sales-related goals that are specific and action-oriented. Ensure the goals are realistic.

Next, visualize yourself feeling wonderful once you achieve that goal. Imagine it as if you’ve already achieved the goal. It’s important to then list ways in which you could (or did in the past) sabotage yourself from accomplishing the goal, and how you’ll avoid that behavior.

Training your team to recognize negative distractions resulting from sales  disappointments and how to overcome those distractions will give them the mental toughness necessary to be continually successful.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Finale Friday.

 

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 29

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 3

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

Today is “Wednesday Workshop!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 3 of a 5 part series.

sales, sales success, insurance sales, sales coaching, role playing, game plan

In my first two articles about a week long Game Plan for Sales Success, I discussed kicking the week off with “Magic Monday,” involving strategies to develop group cohesion among your sales team. The second training day, which I referred to as “Triumphant Tales Tuesday,” has the goal of successful team members sharing the elements of their successes with their colleagues, in the form of case studies.  This day includes role playing exercises, so that team members can practice the skills that have already been shown by their peers to be successful.

Now, we are at mid week, where I suggest a workshop format, Workshop Wednesday.

Recall that this training week mirrors that of a sports team. Wednesday is typically the day for the team’s game plan for their next opponent is introduced. In this case, sales managers can introduce specifics about a new sales push, new products, services, sales strategies etc. Workshop Wednesday is more of a didactic format, so that attendees can be exposed to power-point, video programs, handouts, etc., teaching them all they need to know about these products and services.

As on Tuesday, role playing exercises can be very helpful in practicing these new strategies.

Because many sales professionals internally resist change, the introduction of new or different products, services or sales strategies may raise this resistance.  Consequently, this is a wonderful opportunity to discuss methods of overcoming resistance to change.  In such a discussion, I include such topics as “Overcoming Imposter Fear,” “Taking Charge of Your Internal Critic,” and “Taking Charge of Your Attitudes and Emotions.”  All of these topics (addressed in other articles I have written) address the issue of resistance to change.

Like all training days, I recommend ending with a fun exercise.  There are many manuals offering team building closing exercises and some are directed specifically for sales professionals.  An example is “Superspy.” In this sales training game, attendees pair up in teams to discover the most critical information they need about a fictitious company that is a prospective buyer of your product or service. The team with the most creative ideas for uncovering critical information about the prospective buyer wins a fun prize.  All of these exercises serve multiple purposes:  having fun together, developing a competitive spirit between small teams, and brainstorming to develop creative ideas to sell your products.

Stay tuned for the next installment:  (Mental) Toughness Thursday.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 12

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 2

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 2 of a 5 part series.

Today is Triumphant Tales Tuesday!

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

In my first article about a week long Game Plan for Sales Success, I discussed kicking the week off with Magic Monday, involving strategies to develop group cohesion among your sales team. Using a nautical analogy, no matter how many different “boats” your individual team members arrived on when they joined your sales organization, they are now all on the same “ship,” with each crew member working toward the goal of bringing the ship into port successfully.

Now, it’s Tuesday and time for team members to share success stories with their colleagues. Modeling success strategies from colleagues helps all team members achieve their individual goals, with the combined team goals obviously being accomplished as well.  Again, as in sports, focusing on team goals, rather than individual ones, creates cohesion and the desire for colleagues to help each other.

Triumphant Tales Tuesday actually serves three purposes:

  • First, colleagues share case examples of sales successes they have accomplished, a form of “best practices” sharing.  The more detail included in the stories, the better, with all of the elements that ultimately led to the sale, including listening to and assessing the prospective client’s needs, asking the right questions and closing techniques.
  • Secondly, sharing case examples of success stories that the sales professionals shared with some prospective clients, in order to convince them to purchase products or services, is a valuable sales tool, from which to learn.  For example, an insurance sales professional can share a story that she told a prospective client about how happy another client was that he purchased that insurance product, because shortly afterward, there was an accident or family tragedy, which was fully covered by the product they had purchased.  Showing prospective clients how current ones are thrilled with the product or service they purchased from you is a powerful selling tool.  It is like a testimonial, but telling it in story form is much more impactful than simply quoting a comment from a satisfied customer.  Of course, if the current client is willing to be contacted by your prospective client, that is even more powerful. Your current client will be helping to close the deal for you!
  • Third, these tales of success can easily lead to role playing scenarios, where team members can practice story-telling skills with each other, as if they were telling them to prospective clients.

Role playing, with the task simulating as closely as possible an actual sales scenario, is a powerful learning technique.  Football teams, for example, in preparing for bowl games, will simulate crowd noise and other distractions during their practice and they practice in the same facility in which the big game will be held. Simulating what they will face during the game conditions the players’ mental and physical “muscle memories” so that the actual game will be much less stressful and they will be focused on the goal of winning.

So, too, in sales training, the closer the training simulates the exact situation in which the sales professional finds himself, the less mental and emotional distractions will hamper the ultimate sales approach.

There are many forms of role-playing used in training.  Like all training, I make it fun by having colleagues cheering for each other, giving out prizes for the best “acting,” and concluding the day with another fun activity.

Stay tuned for my discussion of the third day of the Game Plan for Sales Success, Workshop Wednesday.

Listen to Dr. Jack and Jon Hansen discuss this topic on BlogTalkRadio.

Listen to internet radio with Jon Hansen on BlogTalkRadio

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 08

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 1

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 1 of a 5 part series.

Game plan for sales success by Dr. Jack Singer

Successful college and professional coaches have certainly perfected a game plan for practicing and finely tuning their team members’ skills, so that when game day comes, they are prepared to perform at a consistently high rate, regardless of unforeseen obstacles and challenges.

The exact same skills can be taught to sales teams, in order to maximize their ability to perform when it counts the most, rebound quickly from setbacks, and stay focused on maintaining their edge.  This series of articles delineates five days of training, with each day representing a different theme, leading up to Friday’s final day of sales training. 

Magic Monday

Many sales managers put their team members into competition with each other, with fancy charts and graphs, showing who is winning for the month, etc.  But, rather than putting team members into individual competition with each other, it is critical to form a foundation of team cohesion, with incentives for accomplishing team goals, so members push each other to achieve.

When I consult with sales teams, I always begin the training by developing cohesiveness with fun (yet powerful) team-building exercises. First, we engage in a warm-up exercise. This may involve attendees pairing up and each interviewing their partner to learn about a success “secret” that no one else in the room knows about. For example, someone may have been a science fair winner, a spelling champ, or a varsity athlete or cheerleader.  The interviewers then share these “secrets” in front of the group so that something special is learned about each member of the group.

Another powerful exercise is “brag bags.” This is a wonderful exercise, for smaller teams, where everyone on the team knows all the other members. Each member has her/his name written on a paper bag, and all the bags are taped to the wall.  The task is for each team member to anonymously slip a separate piece of paper all the other bags, listing something positive about every other team member. Team members then seal the bags, which are not to be opened until the days’ activities are concluded and the team members leave the office or workshop site.  Imagine the boost you would feel when you get into your car and start opening your bag. You will get positive feedback from each of your colleagues about things they recognize, but probably never related to you.

Once everyone is warmed up they are ready for a fun, yet empowering teambuilding exercise, where attendees are divided into teams and given a task to complete.  The first team to complete the task wins prizes, such as gift certificates, movie passes, etc.

There are a myriad of books on training games, team-building exercises, etc. The task may involve puzzle solving, a treasure hunt, or an outdoor challenge.  They must cooperate and work together to achieve success.

Notice that on Monday nothing related to sales has transpired.  But the foundation for the coming days of training has been established, with the entire sales team knowing much more about their colleagues than before and a cohesive team is forming.

Stay tuned for my discussion of the second day of the Game Plan, Triumphant Tales Tuesday.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Feb 25

How to Motivate Your Sales Team for Consistent Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Sales Professionals

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.

Professional Clinical/Sport Psychologist

How to Motivate Your Sales Team for Consistent SuccessAllison is a very successful sales professional.  Last year her income was higher than she ever imagined that she would earn.  But, Allison came to see me because she dreaded going to work each day.  It was not the process of selling that she dreaded…it was the fact that she was struggling to motivate herself. You might wonder how someone making a great income could be unmotivated regarding her job.

Research on motivation began with the pioneering work of Dr. Abraham Maslow, who determined that people are motivated according to a hierarchy of needs, and money happens to lie near the bottom of that hierarchy.  Consequently, once someone makes a good income, the higher order needs become paramount in driving that person’s passion.  Earning more money does not satisfy a deficit in higher order needs, such as  a feeling of belonging and a sense of accomplishment.

In Allison’s situation, she didn’t trust her sales manager, believed he didn’t genuinely care about her, played favorites, and rarely gave her verbal recognition of her success. As a result, Allison didn’t see a future with the company, regardless of her sales success.

Another pioneer in the research regarding job-related motivation was Frederick Herzberg, with his two factor model.  Herzberg’s research showed that salary or commission rarely motivates people; instead, having not enough money will make them dissatisfied with their jobs. Earning more than they need is nice, but will not motivate them or enrich their jobs.

So, what motivates a sales force?

It’s an age-old question, of course. Money has always been the big carrot for sales people.  But, as both Maslow’s and Herzberg’s research showed, financial compensation is an important determinant of job satisfaction only when a person doesn’t have enough for her/his needs.

David Joyner, executive vice president of sales for Caremark Pharmaceuticals describes it this way: “Salespersons in general have more needs than simply getting a paycheck. That is part of the reward, certainly, but once you have a fair compensation plan in place, then the real work of employee motivation begins.”

To create satisfaction, a sales manager needs to provide job enrichment by addressing what motivates his team to do their jobs, then finding out how to make it better and more satisfying for each of them.

My own research into job stress showed there are marked individual differences in the way working people are motivated. However, we can generalize from the vast number of motivational studies conducted with thousands of sales professionals in hundreds of working situations.  Survey data shows that beyond a good income, most sales professionals need to feel a sense of trust, for both their colleagues and managers, a real sense of achievement, and recognition of their hard work.

  • Creating a culture of trust. Sales professionals need to trust that their supervisors want them to succeed, not just to hit quotas and the monetary rewards. They need to feel that their supervisors genuinely care about them.  As a sales manager, it is critical to take the time to show a genuine interest in the families and lives of your sales people.
  • Creating a culture of achievement. Setting individual and team sales benchmarks is fine, but it is even more motivating to show your sales force how their performance has enhanced the image and success of the company.  They need to feel as if they are important ingredients their company’s success. They need to buy into the important role that their products or services play in the lives of the end user.  All of this ties into Maslow’s need for a sense of belonging and feeling like an important a part of a successful group.
  • Creating a culture of recognition. Sales professionals feed off of recognition.  This means that managers need to be personally recognizing them frequently.  A common misconception by some sales managers is the belief that “their paycheck shows them how well they are doing, so I don’t need to pat them on the back.”  This notion is absolutely wrong.  Everyone loves a pat on the back.

There are other forms of recognition that are just as important.  A sales manager at Nortel Networks emphasizes this kind of recognition and states, “There are two things that Nortel has never stopped or changed, even through challenging economic times. One is our annual sales conference, where we bring our sales team together, both to interact with each other in a forum setting, but also to do peer recognition. You get the sales team up there on stage and you reward them in front of their peers. That is hugely important to them.”

The other way to feel recognized is to belong to an exclusive group…such as the high producer’s group that is invited to attend seminars with powerful speakers at lavish locations, at company expense.  This feeling of being a member of this elite club is the ultimate in personal recognition.

Sales Performance= Sales Skill + Knowledge + Motivation  Minus Distractions.

This simple formula tells it all.  The more the distractions, the less the sales performance, regardless of skill, knowledge and motivation.  And, the number one distraction is negative thoughts and beliefs about feeling unfulfilled in terms of trust, belonging, a sense of achievement or recognition.  Sales managers can certainly eliminate these distractions from their sales professionals by consistently providing these powerful motivators to them. Frequently ask them for feedback to get a pulse on how they are feeling and what you could be providing that is missing for them.  You will be rewarded greatly with a highly motivated team!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem.

In his speaking presentations, Dr Jack teaches sales and financial services professionals the exact same skills he teaches to elite and world champion athletes to Develop & Maintain the Mindset of a Champion!

To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.