K S Ahluwalia
There are all sorts of books and articles that talk about the attributes of high-performance salespeople or high-performance teams.
There are statistics, data points, research, that identify all sorts of characteristics: Aptitude, comfort in talking about money, ability to handle rejection, listening skills, self-discipline, time management capability, industry knowledge, market knowledge, competitiveness, goal orientation….. The lists go on and on and on.
All valid, all helpful, but somehow something is missing.
Sales success, whether individual or organizational is simply about mindset!
Everything else flows from the mindsets we have about what we do as sales professionals. But to simplify things, we can have fixed or growth oriented mindsets.
Fixed mindsets are all about limitations. People with fixed mindset believe they are born with certain capabilities, their potential is fixed and never changeable (hence the name “fixed.”) They may have tremendous capabilities, they may have achieved great levels of success, but ultimately there is a “ceiling.” They max out, they can't go forward. There is someone or some organization better (they may also have a fixed mindset, they just have greater capability).
People and organizations with fixed mindsets are all about winning or losing, proving yourself to be the best. They treat the customer as an opponent, something to overcome. They measure themselves on what they've won, comparing themselves to others, hoping to be better than everyone else.
When they lose, it's usually someone or something else that's to blame, “the customer didn't get it, the competition has better products, our products are too expensive.” Fixed mindsets are a zero-sum game. They are never about discovery, learning, improving.
We see fixed mindsets in their recruiting, coaching, and development, “you have it or you don't.” They miss the opportunity to “develop it.”
As leaders, people with fixed mindsets tend to be in tell or criticism mode. Since learning, growth, discovery are foreign to them, they are limited in their abilities to develop people and their organizations.
We see it in their customer engagement, qualification, and deal strategies.
We see it in their overall growth strategies–how they view customers, the markets, their competition, how they learn, and how we view future opportunities.
They tend to miss opportunities that fall outside their vision or world of experience.
We see promising people and promising companies fail because they have a fixed mindset and cannot adapt to change.
People and organizations with fixed mindsets ultimately give up–they never achieve their full potential. They hit a ceiling or brick wall and can't get past it.
Growth oriented mindsets are simply about that–growing, as individuals and organizations.
They are about learning, improving, adapting, figuring out how to get better. The best with growth oriented mindsets are obsessed with learning, growing, improving. They approach everything differently, whether it's how they engage a customer, solving a problem, or approach their daily work.
Since they always see possibilities in themselves, they tend to see possibilities in other people, the organization, and their customers.
Like people with fixed mindsets, they may lose, they may fail, but they are hungry to learn from those situations, improve and grow.
They may find they don't have certain critical capabilities, but rather than seeing that as a limitation, they try to overcome them, they experiment, learn, improve.
We see this every day. People who by background, experience, training, (and assessments), should never be in the role they are in, should never have achieved what they have achieved–yet they have defied all conventional wisdom and have overcome (or are in the process of overcoming)
The good news (and the bad news), we can change our mindsets! Our mindsets can be a choice, we can move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, likewise, sometimes we shut down and move from a growth to fixed mindsets.
We can look to build organizations of people with growth mindsets-think of what that would look like, how it would change internal collaboration and your ability to engage customers!
Rather than looking only at traditional criteria in recruiting and developing our people, what if we started assessing people based on fixed and growth mindsets. We know upfront, recruits with a fixed mindset will reach a limit—perhaps they already have. We know people with a growth mindset will be driven to figure out and learn what they need to learn–we just have to point them in the right directions, give them the right development, training, coaching and reinforcement.
This “simple” change can profoundly change our organizations and our abilities to help our customer succeed, in turn succeeding ourselves. But it starts with each of us, we can only succeed in doing this by adapting growth mindsets in everything we do.
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