Working in sales means getting a lot of rejection, on a daily basis, constantly. Even worse, most of the time that rejection isn’t based on logical facts, as much as it is based on negative sentiments, which means the rejection comes with comments, insults and an occasional threat. It’s not a profession for the weak of mind. You get beat up. Some prospects not only won’t buy, they want to sell you on why you’re company is bad, or why you are bad person for even working in sales.
Even the strongest minds will eventually start to doubt, fear and loathe in a constant barrage of negative comments. That barrage causes what is often referred to as “head trash”. I define head trash as anything negative that’s factually false but might seem true.
The first culprit of head trash thinking (in sales and outside of sales) is a concept called “Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc”. That’s fancy legal latin for “after it, therefore because of it”. In other words, one thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other. That’s not always true, in fact it’s hardly ever true. Just ask Pavlov and his dogs. I’ve always enjoyed THIS Scene from the TV Show “West Wing” that addresses this concept well. Mistaking sequence for causality is a good way to add some head trash into your brain.
The second culprit of head trash is simply repetition. Something gets repeated often enough, hence it must be true, assumes your brain. This is especially deadly for the sales mind, because as I just stated, our profession involves hearing rejection on a constant basis, and any sales person hears a lot more rejection than they hear positive support (mostly because we don’t ask for referrals often enough). If you start believing some of the negativity, you’ve fallen prey to a leading cause of sales head trash.
The antidote to head trash is “Brain Food”. That’s all the stuff you seek out to watch, read or listen to that confirms and re-enforces correct principles and proper thinking. That stuff counters the negative barrage you are exposed to as a sales person. It feeds your mind with accurate data, real encouragement and breaks false perceptions and negative self talk. That seems obvious and simple, but that’s because most fundamentals are basic and simple. We just forget to do them.
To be clear, I am not talking about positive affirmations. I am not a big believer in standing around chanting “there are no weeds on my lawn, there are no weeds on my lawn,” because if you do that, the weeds will take over and kill the lawn. I am a big believer in paying attention, seeing the weeds, pulling the weeds, and then reading up on weed prevention. More importantly, finding some brain food and confirming the thought that a weed on your lawn doesn’t mean you are a failure or a bad person.
Create a habit of finding and consuming data that inspires you, educates you, and re-enforces your focus on rock solid principles versus “common knowledge” and media hype. Dedicate time on your weekly calendar to rebuild your psyche and your confidence with brain food. Even 30 minutes early in the morning, or on the commute to work dedicated to brain food instead of updating your status on social media (brain junk food) will pay significant dividends in controlling your self talk and generating ideas.
I’ll add a recommendation for a good brain food appetizer. A colleague found these 5 Ted Talks and shared them with me. These are great brain food! He watched one of them with his sales team and sparked a conversation around what takeaways each person got from it. As much as we all love pipeline updates and admin announcements, dedicating one quick 40 minute meeting a week to brain food for you and your sales team is an excellent way of applying this basic, yet essential concept.