By Joan Kelly-Kincade, Strategic Sales Advisor
Imagine knowing a secret that contributes to sales success even as everything around you continues to change. Wouldn’t that be a game-changer?
Full transparency: This month’s topic is not the secret sauce. But it can provide a stronger sense of who you are, why you do what you do and what you will do moving forward.
Last month’s blog, Connecting with Prospects and Thinking Forward Together, introduced the idea of deciding to think forward when you connect with prospects. Let’s add one more decision: Decide to pay attention to what you choose to do next, and why. This means you have decided to cultivate more of a growth mindset. And that is a true game-changer.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
What you do after getting or losing a sale often depends on whether you lean more toward a fixed mindset or toward a growth mindset. According to Carol Dweck, a PhD at Stanford, a growth mindset “is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
A growth mindset doesn’t mean you control all outcomes. It means what you do next is intentional, and you intend to move the process forward regardless of the previous outcome. Importantly, people with a strong growth mindset continue to evolve and learn from previous mistakes, which means they are better equipped to improve with the next sales opportunity. This ability is more important than ever in today’s ever-changing sales environment.
How Do You Know If You Have a Growth Mindset?
First, let’s look at what having a growth mindset is not. Being flexible, or always being optimistic and positive, does not guarantee a growth mindset. However, if you have a growth mindset, it is likely you are fully engaged in processes where you can measure outcomes. This is a great clue because it means you are interested in learning, progressing, trying new strategies and capitalizing on successes while setbacks don’t get you down for long. Instead, you learn from them. And you probably share your success with others.
To understand the basic differences, let’s compare a fixed mindset with a growth mindset, keeping in mind that Dweck writes that, “We are all a combination of fixed and growth mindsets.”
Stops being curious
Similar situations get similar attention
Is hesitant to seek advice
Does not seek new challenges
Focuses on what does not work
Views challenges as obstacles
Is attached to what happened already
Defines themselves based on outcomes
Is less resilient over the long term
Makes time to learn
See similar situations with a fresh eye
Asks for help
Is willing to try everything
Focuses on what works best
View challenges as opportunities to learn
Looks at what is possible next
Not defined by outcomes
Is more successful long term
We know appearances can be deceiving. Beginners often appear to have a growth mindset, and experts often appear to have a more fixed mindset. If you are an expert, though, what you have to offer is valuable experience and knowledge gained through periods of change and challenge! It’s possible to be an expert that also has a budding growth mindset. With some of the above differences in mind, here is what that might look like.
An Expert with a Growth Mindset
- You make mistakes because you try new things.
- You are ready to catch errors.
- You use mistakes as a form of feedback.
- You are willing to be fluid and course correct based on what you learn.
- You explore processes with intention and view processes as a standard to respect and refine, rather than avoid.
- You are forward-thinking and believe in what is possible.
Recognize Which Triggers Tend to Make You Stay Fixed or Help You Grow
It is important to remember that we all have both a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Which one you veer toward changes all the time and is triggered by the challenges, disappointments and insecurities that are a normal part of being human. As a sales professional, if working toward a growth mindset is appealing, here are examples of sales triggers you may recognize and suggestions for next steps that are focused on leaning into a growth mindset.
- Do large goals make you shut down and retreat to a fixed place? If so, count every sales advance and every conversation thread. This helps you recognize incremental progress as interim successes, and you can use this awareness to build confidence and momentum.
- Do data and reporting make you cringe? If so, make advances and conversation threads part of your KPIs. This affirms the process and possibilities in the narrative and the numbers.
- Do you fade away every time you hear “I’m not ready?” If so, challenge your own assumptions and explore other possibilities with the prospect. Don’t prejudge reasons or results. Instead, employ the spirit of inquiry within discovery. Instead of drawing back, assume you will recognize the most relevant and logical next step.
Don’t be afraid to talk about what these triggers mean and why you think they are affecting you. A negative trigger can be too strong to ignore, and a positive trigger might make everyone choose differently. It is likely others feel as you do or that they have their own triggers to talk about. Share this with the team!
Attention, Passion and Persistence
Commit to cultivating a growth mindset whether things go poorly or if they go well. This means you don’t depend on talent or luck for the next sale or where you will end up at the end of the year. It means you are focused on how you choose to think about what comes next based on seeing possibilities realistically. This takes practice and more than a desire to want to see things from a different perspective. It takes deciding to pay attention to the choices we make. And it takes grit.
As defined by Angela Duckworth, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, grit is “having the power of passion and persistence.” Passion and persistence! If you are in the senior living field, you already have passion and persistence. You have grit!
Bottom line, it helps to think like a beginner. Ask yourself, “Knowing all I do, what would I do if I was just starting out?” This is the beginning of cultivating a strong growth mindset.