Belief is the foundation for achieving our highest aspirations. Our belief also influences the mindset and behavior of people around us.
In his book Pygmalion in the Classroom, Dr. Robert Rosenthal published the results of an experiment involving an elite group of teachers who were told that because of their teaching excellence, they would be assigned a group of the brightest students in the school.
The teachers were to use the exact same curriculum they were teaching their other students and were told that very good results were expected from this high I.Q. class of students.
At the end of the year, these “gifted” students topped the entire school district in academic achievement. Not much of a shocker, except for this minor detail: the “elite” group of students and teachers were randomly selected from the general school population!
This true story conveys the raw power that belief has in forging people’s destinies. What beliefs and expectations do you have of yourself, of your prospects and people on your team? How can we strengthen our belief system?
For a period of about two years I did door-to-door sales to help finance my university education and put some spending money in my pockets. During that time, I received a world-class degree in the psychology of belief.
Most of my schoolmates who also came on board to sell, did not last a week after training. The constant rejection was too much. I remember one cold winter day knocking on doors and not making a single sale. On days like these, I too felt like quitting! I knew I could get other, less demanding work, but I decided to stick it through. It became a challenge and an education in mental strength training, resilience, hard work, and most of all—Belief 101. Here are some key strategies I learned:
Mentally Rehearse a Successful Outcome
When you work on commission, you notice very quickly what works and what doesn’t. What didn’t work for me was wasting time in the coffee shop with other depressed sales reps sharing stories of loss and rejection.
What did work was mentally rehearsing a successful outcome before the start of the day. I noticed my sales increased on days I visualized myself approaching prospects confidently and watching their faces light up with smiles at the great opportunity I was offering. I saw them signing contracts, handing me deposits, and warmly shaking my hands. I visualized myself with a clipboard overflowing with contracts. During my visualizations, which took about five to ten minutes, I felt an intense rush of excitement well up inside me as I had a successful day and high-fived my peers.
I also found that I had a better sales day when I meditated early in the morning for about thirty minutes before the start of the day. People are stressed enough as it is and don’t have the time to chat with a tense, nervous-looking sales rep standing outside their door. When people noticed my calm, serene presence, they’d welcome me in. My energy helped reduce some of their own stress.
Check Negative Thoughts at the Door
In this line of work, unsubstantiated negative thoughts have a habit of creeping up: “It’s too cold or too hot to sell, it’s a bad territory, you’re not cut out for this, call it quits for the day.”
I soon learned that the best way to keep up my sales momentum was to check any negative thoughts as soon as they emerged by saying to myself, “Cancel, cancel. Negative thoughts and negative suggestions have no influence over my mind.”
I also used other methods to keep the negative thoughts at bay, but this inner dialogue was sufficient to stop many negative thoughts from overpowering my mind, and it allowed me to sell successfully and consistently.
Don’t Take Rejection Personally
Being on straight commission, I quickly realized that to a large degree, sales was a numbers game. Each no simply led to a yes, and the more no’s I got, the more yeses I’d make.
It was difficult at first not to take rejection personally. I spent a lot of time and energy in the early days replaying each rejection in my mind. But I soon realized that I had no way of reading other people’s minds. They could be having a bad day, or might have had an argument, or maybe they had been burned before in a bad deal.
Since I had no way of knowing, I adopted the emotionally neutral position: “Some will, some won’t, who’s next?” If someone rudely dismissed me, instead of being rude back, I simply thanked them for their time and went on my way. I no longer expended time and energy wallowing in the feeling of rejection, and my sales increased as a result.
Assume the Sale
If you knew you could not fail, you’d certainly act differently than if you expected to fail. A quality product that’s competitively priced in a hungry market should be an opportunity for most sales people and entrepreneurs. Yet every day I saw reps who went to the door expecting to fail: drooped shoulders, shifty eyes, little eye contact, limp-fish handshakes, weak, choppy presentations, exuding an apologetic look that said, “Sorry to trouble you, Sir, Ma’am, but you wouldn’t want to buy anything from me today, would you?”
I know, because that’s how I started out, and my sales were miserable. But when I assumed the sale and expected to win, my sales more than doubled. I simply acted as if I already made the sale: shoulders square, a warm, confident smile, firm handshake, steady eye contact, strong, fluid presentation, shaking my head often in an affirmative “yes.”
Assume the sale. Believe you can. Expect to win!
SHARIF KHAN is a freelance writer, inspirational keynote
speaker, consultant, and author of Psychology of the Hero Soul, an
inspirational leadership book on awakening the hero within.