Tips & Resources

Brain Training for Sales Pros: 8 Techniques to Optimize Your Mindset and Boost Appointment Outcomes

Alex Neil
By Alex Neil
10 May, 2024

Discover the secrets of training your brain for maximum sales success. Here’s how to use your mindset for money making.

a brain and logos representing sales techniques

When we speak of the psychology of sales, we tend to think exclusively of the prospective customer’s mindset. But how often do we stop to consider the mindset of the marketer or salesperson? 

After all, you’re selling yourself as much as you’re selling a product or service. Optimizing your mindset is essential to a thriving career in sales, which is why so many professionals use tried and tested techniques to actively wire their brains for success. 

Let’s take a look at the mental attributes of leading salespeople and how you can develop the same attributes yourself.  

1. Insight: Understand where they are Coming From

Your prospect will rarely have the same background as you. To form a real connection, you need to get on their wavelength.

Naturally, this entails (if possible) researching your prospective client ahead of your sales appointment. But there’s more to it than that. You should broaden your mindset to prepare yourself for any sales interaction.

This means actively exploring alternative mindsets and developing solid and ever-expanding general knowledge. Here are some avenues for training your brain to expand your horizons:

  • News media (mainstream and alternative): Stay abreast of world events in as many sectors as possible. Be mindful that your prospect may not be consuming the same news media as you are, so actively confront your own biases by exploring different news angles with an open mind. Look out for news on issues that do not ordinarily concern your demographic.
  • Social media: Monitor public sentiment by exploring the kind of content people consume. Trending topics on X (Twitter) are a good place to start. Remember that comment sections can be a goldmine in this regard.
  • Newsletters and podcasts: Subscribe to newsletters and podcasts on a variety of subjects, particularly those outside your comfort zone or area of expertise.
  • Human interaction: Seek out subject matter experts and people from social groups other than your own. In these interactions, listen more than you speak and ask meaningful questions. 
  • Microlearning: Break your learning into bite-size chunks of information. Watch short video clips, scan infographics, read listicles, and complete short quizzes. 

2. Empathy: Share in their Experience

Shame and empathy researcher and author of “The Gifts of Imperfection” Brené Brown defines empathy as “connecting to the emotions that underpin an experience.”

This goes beyond simply understanding the facts of a person’s situation to actually trying to feel what they are feeling. Brown explains that this requires you to have the courage to be vulnerable yourself. 

Only then can you understand your prospect’s pain points and how your product or service might alleviate them.

To develop this skill, you can use a Customer Empathy Map. This will help you map out what your prospect sees, thinks, feels, hears, says and does.

3. Critical Thinking: Connect the Dots

technology's icon linked together
Source: timify

Famed journalist and skilled debater Christopher Hitchens believed that “the essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

To convert a lead into a sale, you need to think and communicate clearly. This means dissecting information and breaking it down into premises and conclusions to see how the dots connect (or don’t). 

Leadership and business coaching consultancy The Leadership Effect suggests nine critical thinking tools for better decision-making:

  • The Decision-Making Tree: Use this flowchart to visualize the decision-making process.
  • Changing your lens: View issues through different “lenses” – contexts, points of view, and realities.
  • Active listening within the Socratic method: Ask probing questions in dialogues and debates
  • The decision hygiene checklist: Use this to ensure your learning of what someone else thinks isn’t influenced by what YOU think.
  • Where accuracy lives: Use this Venn diagram to find the overlap between your own ideas and those of others.
  • Root cause analysis: Use this simple tool to identify the root cause of a problem by first defining it and then asking a series of “why” questions.
  • The RAID Log: Write down the risks, assumptions, issues, and dependencies at hand when making decisions.
  • The 7 So-Whats: Answer seven “so what” questions to determine the potential consequences of a given decision.
  • Overcoming analysis paralysis: Identify what is causing you to procrastinate on making a decision and address that.

4. Confidence: Know your Worth

The dreaded cold call is perhaps the most challenging aspect of sales. While cold calling has an average success rate of 2%, research shows that failing to cold call results in 42% less growth for your organization compared to organizations that do employ cold calling.

The bottom line? Cold calling involves enduring a lot of rejection to achieve significant long-term growth. To overcome this and similar challenges in making sales, you need to have confidence in spades. 

Strong self-esteem is the foundation of confidence, and these tips can help you bolster your self-esteem: 

  • Own your achievements: Think and talk about your achievements like they matter because they do.
  • Counter your negative thoughts: Write down your negative feelings about yourself and then confront these mistaken beliefs by writing out realistic but positive refutations of each of your imagined flaws. Do this often.
  • Celebrate your strengths: Turn to friends and family to tell you what they view as your strengths and write these down. 
  • Be kind to yourself: Counter critical self-talk by referring to your list of negative thoughts and then asking if you would ever say such things to a loved one. Of course, you wouldn’t. Become your own best friend by talking to yourself as you would to a cherished friend.
  • Show self-compassion: Instead of criticizing yourself when you next make a mistake, give yourself the grace of being allowed to err on occasion. Tell yourself, " It's okay. Nobody is perfect. You’ll do better next time.”
  • Develop positive mantras: Create positive mantras to reinforce your sense of self-worth. Lines from songs that make you feel happy can make very effective mantras. Repeating these to yourself regularly can rewire your brain for positivity.
  • Be mindful of your body language: Become aware of your body language. Simply standing up straight, smiling, making eye contact, unfolding your arms, and grounding yourself automatically makes you feel more confident. Watch how this makes prospects more receptive to you.
  • Deal with the origins of your low self-esteem: Whether it’s a highly critical parent or repeated experiences of perceived “failure,” we all have things in our past that made us think we weren’t worthy of success or happiness. Explore what caused you to doubt yourself. Then, use the critical thinking skills you’ve developed to remind yourself your past experiences or failures don’t determine your value. A life coach or therapist can be very helpful in this regard.

5. Humility: Know your Limits

Remember that confidence and arrogance are not the same things. In sales, as in life, it’s always better to undersell and over-deliver than the other way around.

A recent Zenger Folkman survey of 708 leaders to determine the impact of arrogance/humility on leadership effectiveness found that arrogant leaders (34%) rated significantly lower in overall effectiveness than humble leaders (66%).

At the core of humility is heightened self-awareness. To develop this in yourself, consider yourself and others with a sense of curiosity:

  • Recognize your own limitations and own your mistakes.
  • Acknowledge others’ strengths.
  • Be open to growth and learning. 
  • Prioritize others’ needs alongside your own.
  • Listen attentively and ensure others feel heard by you.
  • Welcome feedback and apply it wherever possible.
  • Express gratitude to others often.
  • Be open to constructive criticism.

6. Focus: Start with the End in Mind

happy woman with icons of business success metrics
Source: timify

The second of best-selling author Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to start with the end in mind. 

We do this subconsciously in many facets of life already, and you can train your brain by playing games like Solitaire or Chess that enhance your critical thinking, strategic planning, and problem-solving skills.

Like playing these games, you need to map out the process of a successful sales call in your mind first. Ask yourself:

  • What am I selling?
  • What are its features and benefits?
  • How might these serve my prospect?
  • What objections might my prospect raise?
  • How can I counter these?

Thereafter, visualize yourself successfully closing the sale. Imagine what it will feel like. Keep that feeling with you as you make your sales pitch.

7. Positivity: Think Win-Win

Of the roughly 50,000 thoughts you have each day, 95% are the same thoughts as the day before. Research also shows that consistent positive thinking significantly improves quality of life and health outcomes.

In sales, as in life, a positive mindset is more likely to result in a positive outcome.

Do the following in order to develop a more optimistic outlook on life:

  • Cut the negative self-talk
  • Take time every day to feel and express gratitude
  • Look for the humor in life
  • Practice reframing events that you experience as negative
  • Spend time in nature

With this mindset, you’ll feel better about yourself, and prospective clients will be more open to what you have to say: win-win!

8. Assertiveness: Stay the Course

According to one study, 55% of people attribute missed work opportunities to not being assertive enough. Fortunately, as you gain confidence, you’ll simultaneously develop your ability to be assertive. Assertiveness is a key attribute of highly effective salespeople. 

Use the following tips for becoming more assertive:

  • Use “I” statements
  • Practice saying no
  • Rehearse what you want to say
  • Use open body language and a level tone of voice
  • Manage your emotions
  • Start by practicing assertiveness in low-risk scenarios

Assertiveness is particularly useful if you don’t make the sale in the first appointment (or the client is a no-show). It is always possible to close the deal in your next appointment.

Parting Thoughts: Successful Salespeople are Resilient

Despite your best efforts, sometimes you won’t be able to close a sale. As a salesperson, you need to be able to bounce back when this happens.

By combining and developing the techniques listed above, you’ll be able to keep a clear head and a positive outlook so that past failures do not taint your ability to anticipate success in the future.

Alex Neil

About the author

Alex Neil

Alex Neil is a seasoned marketing professional with a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share, encompassing both event marketing and sales. A passionate contributor, she uses her writing to shed light on the intricacies of event management, creativity, and effective sales techniques, providing valuable insights and inspiration to her readers. When she's not writing, Alex finds balance through the calming practice of yoga or by enjoying the great outdoors with her furry companion, Harley, playing frisbee.

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