I bet you have seen this picture somewhere before, at a seminar or on Facebook, of a cat looking in the mirror and her reflection, how she sees herself, is a lion. My question to you is: What do you see in the mirror? A top sales professional? A consummate salesperson? A tough negotiator?
Easy now. Even if you are a top salesperson, having the self-image of a 'top salesperson' is not necessarily a great thing for your confidence. Why? Because any time you consider yourself a perfectly respectable, decent, or competent sales professional, you are resting on your laurels, and your laurels, I’m sorry to say, will not be worth a penny tomorrow. What matters is not what you were, what you did, or what you accomplished yesterday but what you are today. The belief that you achieved something great in the past will be too obvious to others, even if you don’t intend it to be. The result? Arrogance. Not a likeable trait. And how is the unlikeable, arrogant sales professional supposed to do a decent, respectable job? Believe me: Yesterday’s success is today’s failure, if you don’t continue to improve yourself.
Look ahead, not back
Forget who you were. Focus on the person you see in the mirror at this very moment. And see that person as a guiding image, as someone who wishes to accomplish even more in the future. Think about how much more you are capable of. You cannot fathom how much is still possible for a person to accomplish. And if you have difficulties in seeing that person in the mirror as a guiding figure, then I can propose someone who fits that role perfectly.
His name is Thomas Geierspichler. He began his life like millions of others. He went to school, studied, worked, had problems with his father, liked to go out, and liked to dance. He was an ordinary young man. One night, on his way back home from a nightclub, his life took a devastating turn. Thomas was sitting on the passenger side of a car, and the driver fell asleep at the wheel. When Thomas woke up, he was a paraplegic. His life shattered into even more pieces. His relationship fell apart. He began to drink and smoke too much. He took drugs. He was heading for complete disaster, and his downfall seemed inevitable.
At some point, a friend dragged him to church. Thomas consented, less out of persuasion than boredom. Then it happened. This visit to church transformed him. A phrase out of the Gospel of St. Luke, “Everything is possible for him who believes,” was from that moment on his guiding principle.
Thomas quit drugs and alcohol and took up sports. While he was playing wheelchair basketball, he met a wheelchair racer, and again something profound occurred. From that instant onward, sports was no longer recreation but competition. He finally had a goal to set his sights on. As a young boy he had watched the ski jumpers and downhill skiers on television, winning medals and having their national anthem performed. Thomas had a new goal now: He wanted to become so good at wheelchair racing that they would play his national anthem when he won. He succeeded in doing just that and much more besides. Thomas Geierspichler won five gold medals at the Paralympics. Five times he heard the Austrian national anthem played in honour of his win. He also earned countless other medals and triumphs.
Visualise your self-improvement
You, too, can accomplish great things. These accomplishments do not have to include a gold medal or the playing of your national anthem. It can simply be the glow in the eyes of a client. Or the fact that the client enjoys doing business with you. Why does she enjoy doing business with you? Because you provide her with a benefit. You make her life easier. You contribute to her own success and development. The money? The profit? That takes care of itself. That’s how salesmanship has functioned for thousands of years.
Granted, comparing yourself to those who have accomplished less or comparing yourself to your own past achievements can make you feel better. But this is not going to help you improve. Improving yourself – that is to say, becoming better than you were yesterday – is the only meaningful thing that you can do. That's how you can shape your future.
By Martin Limbeck, international sales authority and sought-after keynote speaker, dubbed 'The Porsche of Sales.' With his best-in-class German Sales Engineering approach, he helps sales professionals seal more deals. Martin has trained and inspired audiences in twenty-one countries for more than twenty years. The Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) has been honoured as Top Speaker of the Year 2014, International Speaker of the Year 2012, and Trainer of the Year 2011 and 2008. He teaches at Reutlingen European School of Business, Steinbeis University Berlin, and St. Gallen University, and is the author of several bestsellers, including NO Is Short for Next Opportunity: How Top Sales Professionals Think and Why Nobody Wants You to Get to the Top: ...and How I Made It Anyway.