Sales Coaching Series, Part 26: Just before you go "on stage"...

Back from a week's break and ready to pick up again, where we left off...

This week I want to remind you of the importance of mental rehearsal before you begin prospecting.

When you are out amongst prospects and clients, and in selling mode, you are effectively on stage. You are performing. No professional actor, or sports person or musician goes on stage without mental rehearsal. You should be no different.

I regularly facilitate training programmes in front of 15+ people and sometimes seminars with hundreds of people in the audience. Each time I am travelling in the car to the venue, I am visualising the ideal outcome. It is a form of 'back to the future' thinking. I always visualise the faces of the attendees as they leave the room at the end of the day. They are happy, they are beaming, they have learned new concepts, ideas, methodologies and they are saying to me "thank you, that was great!".

Does it always work out exactly like this? I have to say, more often than not, yes. I have invested hundreds of thousands of hours crafting and perfecting the way I deliver; it is my own personal style and I make no apologies for it! It looks simple, however, I assure you, "it is simplicity AFTER complexity".

I know that after a full days programme, attendees can be tired, mentally drained and need space to absorb and distil what has just been imparted. On the other hand, I always feel invigorated. It is as if there is adrenaline coursing through my veins and I'm on a bit of a "high". I always feel like this as well, when I am prospecting or meeting future clients for the first time.

Prospecting should liken the Olympic high jumper; you know the athletes I am talking about. They get the crowd clapping behind them to build encouragement, confidence and self belief. You can see them visualising the steps they are about to take; their heads bobbing up and down, and reaching the point where they do their final lift and a mighty stretch to arch over the high bar. They repeat this visualisation again and again.

This mental rehearsal is essential for all top performing athletes and it is no different for you, for me, for all of us in sales. Actors rehearse and in order to become a part in the play or movie, some go to extremes. I'm sure you all have your favourites. So, what can you learn from these top performers?

I guarantee they never, ever think of past failures. They recall past successes and fill their minds with positive images of the zone. What are the images that come into your head about yourself, when prospecting? What words and "vocabulary" do you express about yourself? I can guarantee you this; if you express self-doubt, self-limiting beliefs, negativities about any part of the selling process, you will not be disappointed!! You will get what you believe...and you will not be disappointed.

Almost everything is a mental game when you think about it. For example I played a game of golf, last week. I was playing okay for my standard. I remember thinking to myself "this is going too well"! In other words, I was almost waiting for myself to "blow up"; and anybody who has played any form of sports, knows that confidence and self-belief are critical success factors. I convinced myself that the next drive was going to be in the bushes! And it was! FATAL thoughts. Golf is amazing in that you can talk yourself into success, or talk yourself into failure. I'm convinced it is a game that is 90% mental and 10% skill.

I'm also convinced that sales falls roughly the same proportion. You must see yourself as the Ronaldo or Messi of your profession. How would the ideal you think, act, behave, plan, prepare, execute, deliver and follow-through? Think through the A-Z of the process.

Mentally prepare for the next encounter with a prospect; what comes at the start, what is in the middle and what is at the end? Remember, everything counts! The little things, the touches, the nuances...all are important and add up to the full package.

So, my suggested exercise for the next day is for you to take some time to plan out your next prospecting visit. Close your eyes, visualise the ideal outcome, visualise the ideal you, take control of what happens first, second, third and so on, and in particular, what you want to achieve from the meeting.

To repeat what Stephen Covey says, "begin with the end in mind". 

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