Entrepreneurship is driven by optimism. A positive outlook is vital to the success of anyone who is growing a business. The remarkable ability to envision and believe in the best possible outcome in any given situation is a trait that sets successful business owners apart from those who struggle. Where others see only obstacles and let fear or doubt get the best of them, entrepreneurs see the favorable side of challenging events and approach obstacles believing they can be overcome.
One area of business success that can only thrive with optimism intact is sales. Being able to sell your product or service is fundamental. No matter how great you are at what you do or how amazing your product is, without sales, you have no business. You have to believe people want to buy from you. You have to know that what you’re offering is worth it. If you don’t have an unshakable belief in yourself and your business, who else will?
Here’s why optimism matters in sales:
Your attitude is contagious
We all like to work with and do business with people we know, like, and trust. Having a sunny disposition attracts prospects to your personality; and when you belive in yourself, others can feel it, and they are more likely to believe in you too. Sales expert Wendy Connick explains that a positive attitude is contagious. When a prospect can tell you’re an upbeat person, they will feel more positive too and think more favorably about what you’re attempting to sell them. Connick says, “things like tone of voice, volume, word choice, and excitement level have a strong effect over the phone, since the other person can’t see you.“
Nobody is excited to work with or buy from someone who sounds depressed, because it’s a drag. So even if you’re feeling low, put some pep into your sales conversation. Listen to upbeat music before your meeting. Put on a smile during your call. Make the conscious choice to sound excited and enthusiastic. Your prospect will feel the attitude you bring to the call; and even if she doesn’t buy, she will have a positive impression of you. You may get a referral or simply build your network with someone else who is excited about what you’re doing and spreads the word about you and your business.
Confidence is key
In Inc Magazine’s roundup of The Top 10 Traits of Inc 500 Entrepreneurs, they found confidence was key: “Confident entrepreneurs present themselves effectively, take initiative, and have conviction in their ability to build businesses.”
You have to know that you can deliver. You have to believe that your product or service is the best, and that you can meet the needs and desires of your buyers. If you’re hesitant or if you have a sneaking underlying suspicion that you cannot measure up to expectations, buyers will be suspicious of you. They have to feel like they are spending their money wisely — that they are putting their trust in the right hands.
If you hem and haw during a call, seem hesitant, or unsure, it will show. It’s not enough to ‘know your stuff’ and present a polished pitch or presentation. You have to walk into a room or pick up the phone committed to success, knowing that you can do it.
An article by Steve Martin in the Harvard Business review reveals, “less than 10 percent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 percent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.”
If you want to be successful in business, having emotional stability is important. Happiness and satisfaction with life in general will take you further than any individual sales success and outshine any failure. You cannot tie your self worth to a sales call. If you do, you’ll get discouraged and attempting to grow your business will begin to feel grueling and hopeless. You have to know that it will all work out for the best, stay happy, and keep moving forward.
Reality doesn’t bite
Maintaining optimism in sales doesn’t mean that you refuse to look at a situation for what it is, ignore reality, or operate under delusions. Entrepreneur Jason Wesbecher says, “The best sales people constantly ask themselves how could this go wrong?” They balance their optimism with a “healthy dose of paranoia” to face potential challenges head on.
Having an optimistic viewpoint will help you take a more objective look at constraints and drawbacks when the odds are stacked against you. With optimism, you can think more creatively about how to solve problems, address objections, and communicate favorably about what might be viewed as a shortcoming. Wearing rose colored glasses in business doesn’t make you blind. You just know that your future is bright.
Giving up isn’t an option
Pessimists are more susceptible to giving up — something business owners can’t afford to do. No matter how much a pessimist needs a ‘yes’ in sales, whatever enthusiasm they drum up to start, will wane quickly with each ‘no’ they get. If you believe your prospect will turn you down or that a potential customer will not buy, you will not have the resilience you need to persevere. Every “no” will serve as confirmation to feed your negative outlook.
To be successful in sales and grow your business, you must decide to see every ‘no’ as an opportunity — a welcomed challenge to reexamine your approach, to refine your offering, improve your product, or just move on to knock on the next door. There are plenty of opportunities to get a ‘yes’ out there in the marketplace.
You will have an easier road through the trials of entrepreneurship if you are naturally an optimist. A tendency to see the bright side will get you through dark and trying times.
However, optimism can also be learned and grow stronger like a muscle. You can practice positivity. Read success stories for evidence that your dreams can be accomplished. Go for the low hanging fruit first, and get some yesses under your belt early to build your confidence. Get into the habit of writing lists of pros and cons, but spend more time and energy fleshing out the details of the pros. That’s where the gold is. Study sales. Seek out resources and sales experts to learn as much about successful selling as possible. Knowledge is empowering.