• Duane Cashin

The Importance of Practice in Improving Sales DNA

When we talk about Sales DNA, we’re talking about how a salesperson thinks.

We’re talking about how their thinking drives their reactions in certain key selling situations. Their thoughts, positive or negative, will have a significant impact on their actions and therefore their results.

When sales DNA appears as a weakness, it’s what sabotages a rep’s ability to execute.

We have a tendency to think of Sales DNA in very black and white terms: you either have positive DNA/thoughts or you don’t. And, while there is an element of truth to that statement, it misses a very big opportunity: that those salespeople whose thoughts are not always supportive can (and should) improve upon it with practice.

Professional athletes all have natural DNA, both mental and physical, that supports excellence on the field, but every one of them still practices for hours daily to improve their performance.

If they slack off, they lose their edge.

If they slack off, self-defeating thoughts and insecurities can begin to creep into their minds.

They’re not exempt from practice simply because they’re naturally gifted.

The same goes for good salespeople.

In training, salespeople learn how to improve their execution of sales process, listen and question better, qualify prospects better, so that, when they’re actually in front of a prospect, they don’t become overwhelmed and revert to old, familiar selling behaviors.

And, that’s the really difficult thing -- to overcome the tendency to backslide into old ways of selling.

It’s like a coiled spring: You can pull on it and it feels as though you’re changing it, but the second you release the tension, it reverts back to its original shape.

Improving Sales DNA requires much more effort and time than improving selling tactics and techniques because any one of a salesperson’s six Sales DNA competencies -- which are what comprise a rep’s Sales DNA Score -- can present itself as a weakness:

  1. The need to be liked (prevents salespeople from asking tough, timely questions, pushing back, or challenging their prospects' thinking)

  2. Tendency to become emotional (makes it difficult for salespeople to engage in active listening)

  3. Discomfort talking about money (makes it difficult for salespeople to fully qualify on finances, terms, and the ability to pay)

  4. Self-limiting beliefs (sabotages effort, focus, and outcomes)

  5. Personal buying habits (causes salespeople to understand and empathize with stalls, put-offs, objections, excuses, and so on)

  6. Difficulty overcoming rejection (causes salespeople to procrastinate making their next prospecting call)

When attempting to overcome any one of these unsupportive thoughts and behaviors, you can pull hard with awareness and coaching, but as soon as you stop, the rep (the spring in this scenario) reverts back to its original shape. It can feel like you never pulled on it at all.

How can you change the shape of a spring? You just keep stretching it -- over and over again, stretching it further and further each time you do it.

Eventually, you’ll change the characteristics of the metal, and it won’t return to its original shape anymore.

But, that takes time and tremendous effort, and most people will quit during the process.

Sales leaders are no different. Most find it very difficult to help their salespeople overcome their DNA weaknesses because the work is not easy. It requires tremendous amounts of repetition, positive affirmations, permissions, workarounds, and role-playing.

Change doesn't occur quickly.

When you’re coaching a good sales rep and you see their DNA snap back into an old place, don’t quit. Picture the spring, and know that, with additional attempts, you’ll eventually change its shape.

It won't happen immediately, but your salespeople will eventually change and overcome negative sales DNA provided neither of you gives up.

Coaching like that is hard work. Practicing like that is hard work.

When you’re ready to get help, give us a call.

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