Once upon a time, a little child wrote letters every single year, addressed to a jolly old man residing at the North Pole. These letters politely requested greatly desired Christmas gifts, and based upon the child’s behavior in the preceding year (or, more usually, the past few weeks), the gifts would magically arrive on Christmas Eve.
This tradition led those who followed it to believe, throughout our young lives, that good behavior was rewarded at Christmas with these incredible presents.
However – spoiler warning – eventually that magical belief became (sadly!) dispelled when we discovered that “Santa” was actually our parents. The knowledge that our parents were the Christmas gift providers rather diluted our anticipation, and the motivation to behave “extra good” didn’t seem as necessary as it had before.
So that belief in Santa Claus had a substantial impact on our behavior. Although it later seemed a far-fetched and illogical belief, it certainly brought an incredible amount of joy, and the wonderful gifts that appeared Christmas morning only reinforced the power of that belief and continued to drive our good behavior.
Every parent is bewildered and enthused by the steadfast and confident belief a child has in Santa Claus. Ask any child under 6 about Santa Claus and they will confidently tell you tales about his existence. As adults, we momentarily suspend our own rational belief and conjure stories and expectations to reinforce the child’s belief in Santa in the pursuit of creating great joy for the child and driving positive behaviors.
So in this purest and most fictional of examples, haven’t we proven that our behaviors really are driven by our beliefs – and that we have the power to drive positive behaviors by changing or reinforcing our beliefs?
Numerous studies provide further evidence that our beliefs influence our confidence, behaviors and performance. Our beliefs form our expectations, which drive our actions, which ultimately produce results. The quality of these results can either reinforce or change our beliefs.
Consequently our beliefs are simply our mindset, which has been impacted by the results of our actions over many years. And we underestimate our ability to manage our beliefs and ultimately drive positive actions.
Why can a child believe so adamantly in a fictitious jolly fellow? Because they associate their belief with magical results (a special gift). And even though this belief changes when they discover that the jolly fellow is in fact their parent, they have already developed behavior patterns that will ensure they can still derive magical results (special gifts) year over year.
So why don’t salespeople develop such strong, productive beliefs? Why don’t salespeople conjure up positive expectations that enable them to confidently perform sales activities that provide positive results?
Left to their own devices, with minimal training or coaching, the behaviors and actions that salespeople confidently engage in (or don’t engage in) are simply a direct reflection of their past results.
While I would never imply a salesperson is like a child, I would suggest that there is plenty sales leaders can do to influence the beliefs of their sales people. Quality skills training that stimulate positive expectations and greater sales confidence will always drive stronger sales behaviors and produce great results.
Our belief in Santa may be long gone (or not?!?) but our belief in obtaining great results from positive behaviors will never dissipate. So let’s continually strive to improve our behaviors (skills) and receive the joy of special sales results – year over year.
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