When you look at the selling masters out there, the people who make sales look effortless, are you encouraged? (“Maybe with hard work, that could be me.”) Or does some part of you feel threatened? (“Terry’s a natural at sales; I’ll never be able to close a deal like that.”)
The answer is important, because it’s a key window into your selling mindset.
Mindset is a term popularized by Stanford professor Carol Dweck. In studying human achievement, she repeatedly found that one of the best predictors of success boiled down to the way people saw the world.
Are you a fixed mindset salesperson?
In a fixed mindset framework, positive traits—in our case, the ability to sell—are innate, or fixed. It holds that we are all born destined to reach a certain level and then stop. The goal is to hope you turn out to be a member of that race of magic people.
If you approach sales with a fixed mindset, you are discouraged by setbacks—dry periods, difficult customers—because it makes you secretly doubt you’ve got that “special sauce.” Challenges mean risking failure, and failure is devastating, since it seems to reveal an inner truth about just how talented you are—or aren’t. When others sell better than you, this sparks jealousy and feelings of your own inadequacy, to the point where you might find yourself rooting for your peers to fail.
Fixed mindset salespeople are wary of change. They don’t like learning new systems—after all, trying something different is a form of risk. They resent peers who sell more. Every pitch, every presentation, feels do-or-die, and rejections are devastating. It can feel harder and harder to bounce back from each “no.”
A growth mindset, on the other hand, suggests that talent, intelligence and so on can be increased with hard work and practice. People operating under a growth mindset are thus willing to try to learn and improve as much as possible, even if it means admitting what they don’t yet know.
If you’re a growth mindset seller, you’re excited by challenges. A finicky customer is an opportunity to test a new persuasion technique. Challenges could mean failure, but failure is a learning opportunity, so the stakes of any one particular interaction might not feel as high. When others sell better than you, your takeaway is, “How can I get there, too?”
Growth mindset salespeople are always looking to expand their pool of knowledge. They might eagerly ask their peers for new tips and tricks. Every pitch, every presentation, is a chance to get a little better at selling. Hearing “no”s aren’t fun, but it is an opportunity to examine their presentation for spots that could be improved. They display what Steven Pink, in his book To Sell is Human, calls “buoyancy.” It’s a mixture of optimism and realism that keeps a good salesperson springing back after each rejection.
Growth mindset is not simply the more enjoyable way to engage with your sales career. In today’s fast-paced, ever-shifting market, being willing to change, adapt, and learn is a necessity.