The founder of our company, David Sandler, created and made famous a powerful learning model he called the Success Triangle.
- Attitude is what happens between your ears.
- Technique is what you learn to do.
- Behavior is what you do consistently–what you put into practice.
Those three corners on the triangle can drive our ascent to its fullest and highest potential – and not just in sales, but in life.
Most salespeople and sales leaders we work with gravitate first toward the Technique corner. That’s understandable. It’s easiest to focus on technique. It’s the low-hanging fruit. You can quickly improve your results by upgrading your Technique. Once you focus on Technique for a while, you may find yourself becoming more comfortable addressing the behavior corner. The behavior corner challenges us to examine when and how often the specific techniques we’ve learned are actually put into practice. If we know how to perform great techniques in some area of our life, but we never or rarely bother to execute those techniques, is it going to help us? Of course not. You know the old joke about how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Well, the behavior corner asks us if we are breaking down that elephant into little bites when it comes to our daily behaviors—the things we commit to do, and actually do, day after day.
But technique and behavior are not enough. Our Attitude (also known as our mindset or belief system) is just as important as the other two corners when it comes to creating relationships with buyers—and mapping out and aligning with the buyer’s journey. If our belief system reinforces scarcity, or victimhood, or a belief that people are fundamentally dishonest, we’re not going to get very far with the modern buyer. Yet for some reason, many sales professionals, leaders included, minimize or ignore the significance of critically evaluating and upgrading their own Attitude.
Attitude determines our internal dialogue. It determines what meaning we assign to the experiences we have. If we are second guessing ourselves with our internal dialogue, or we’re still living out scripts we learned as children that no longer support us (such as “don’t talk to strangers”), we’re always going to go off track. We’re going to waste a lot of time and energy that we simply cannot afford to waste. And we’re going to miss opportunities.
When we were little, and our parents turned off the lights at the end of the day, we were afraid of the monsters we thought lived under our beds. They would cause us fear, doubt, and worry—so much so that we convinced ourselves we could see and hear them. That monster-under-the-bed example may seem like a faraway experience… but in order to sell effectively to the modern buyer, we need to get a handle on which monsters are still under our beds and are causing us to fear, doubt, worry, and make bad decisions.
Let me give you an example. A critical, non-negotiable part of the qualification process with the modern buyer is finding out the available budget – the investment. We’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of salespeople over the years and one of the things we’ve consistently found is that, at first, most of them are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of coming right out and asking a decision-maker how much money is available to solve a problem.
Most of them skip the discussion about investment entirely, then try to sneak in their pricing at the end of their presentation. Does that work? No. It usually results in a “Let me think it over” response. The big question is: Why are so many salespeople resistant to initiating this discussion?
The answer is that there is still a monster under the bed. Sure, a time has gone by and we’ve grown up, and we no longer need our parents to come in and soothe us so we can fall asleep. But you know what? That doesn’t mean we got rid of the monsters! They just took different forms and showed up in different spaces: our locker or our dorm room. Eventually, they followed us to work and took up residence in our desks and telephones and computers.
Some of the biggest monsters actually come from our parents. If, while we were growing up, they told us, “Don’t talk to strangers,” or, “It’s rude to talk about money,” or, “Money is the root of all evil,” – then whether we realize it or not, we’ve probably still have a monster under the bed. That monster is keeping us from selling effectively to the modern buyer. It’s keeping us from getting the information we need to qualify opportunities and strengthen relationships.
The Attitude point on the triangle challenges us to notice and assume personal responsibility for our mindset. Is it a mindset of fear, doubt, and worry? Or is it one of confidence and conviction in our message? If it’s the former, we have some work to do on our self-talk and our self-concept.
I tell our clients: You can talk yourself in or out of greatness in an instant. In fact, we do talk ourselves out of greatness every time we start fantasizing about bad outcomes that may never actually happen–and don’t even matter if they do! For example, “They know more than I do,” or, “I don’t know all the details about our product/service,” or, “If I stand my ground on this issue, they will disapprove of me.”
Here’s an important reality check, brought to you by the Attitude corner of the Success Triangle. We’re not having this conversation with the buyer in order to be liked.
The Success Triangle is incredibly powerful. All three of its points are critical priorities for personal and professional growth. The principles for effective, self-sufficient selling to the modern buyer all rest on the rock-solid foundation of the Success Triangle – Attitude included.
How do we know that? Because experience has shown us countless times that when people and teams commit to excel at all three corners of the Success Triangle, and then follow through on that commitment, they eventually dominate their markets – and find themselves at the very top of their profession. And that’s exactly where they belong.
Written by David H. Mattson.
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