23rd February 2023 Mindset Development Group

Sales targets, in my experience, have continuously increased year on year, while headcount to deliver this increase flatlines or declines. This leaves sales leaders with the perennial problem – how do I get more from my people? Which then leaves the sales executives asking themselves – how can I get more from me?!


How not to accelerate sales performance 

The well-intentioned but misplaced advice I got as a sales leader from my board was to get my team to do more ‘stuff’ – also known as the activity trap. As if making even more calls just for the sake of making calls was the answer. 

The other intervention was to defer to traditional sales methodologies training like those extolled by Miller Heiman: TAS, SPIN, The Challenger Sale, and Value-Based selling (I could go on!). This advice hides a semi-truth – a well-positioned activity with a quality delivery will deliver results, but it is only half the answer.

If like me, you recognise these challenges, but the only go-to solution is to invest in traditional sales training, you’re likely to be left frustrated as it will have little to no impact on sales performance, team culture, and KPIS. And there’s a reason. 


Not all sales training is effective

There is a harsh reality, supported by research, about using sales methodology training as a standalone solution to increase sales. The research shows us there’s a weak statistical link between investing in standalone traditional sales training and an increase in sales, KPIS, improvement in team culture, and retention of key talent – all the desired outcomes. 

Think of the last training you took – how much of what you learned are you currently using? 

Research supports your experience:

  • 80% of the content is forgotten within 30 days (Broad & Newstrom)
  • Up to 87% of knowledge can dissipate and die after three months (Huthwaite International)

Studies show this is because traditional training:

  • Often uses a one size fits all approach
  • Lacks follow-up and reinforcement 
  • Ignores the individual and the relevance to their needs and style of learning


Why traditional sales training doesn’t work

The dichotomy of the situation has been highlighted by research we commissioned from 100 salespeople across sectors and sales dynamics. When asked ‘what’s stopping you from hitting your sales targets?’, they responded:

I am…

  • easily distracted with important work overtaken by operational “busyness”
  • unable to switch off from work and feeling burnt out
  • overwhelmed and deflated by setbacks
  • always getting caught in unhelpful negative thinking loops
  • always feeling that I am not as good as my colleagues and doubting my ability
  • lacking consistent levels of motivation
  • feeling like I am not living up to my potential at work and home


It’s all about the mindset

The challenges are one of changing your mindset:

  • Enhanced self-awareness and emotional intelligence
  • Focus
  • Resilience
  • Motivation
  • Confidence 
  • Empathy
  • Personal Effectiveness
  • Mental wellbeing 

Does it make sense for our salespeople to have a best-practice sales process, product knowledge, and business acumen? Of course it does! This is necessary but not sufficient as there remains a ‘knowing versus doing’ gap. This means that while we know what to do, we don’t do it as effectively as we could and are therefore not living up to our potential. This gap is ‘all about mindset.’ And none of these elements is addressed by the go-to method of traditional sales training.

There is evidence that combining sales training with mindset training is a key driver of success in sales as a growth mindset:

  • improves the ability to improve and adapt
  • overcomes limiting beliefs and biases to improve self-awareness and confidence
  • improves resilience and motivation around handling setbacks and adversity
  • develops the ability and desire to ‘train and develop’ yourself 


An effective mindset produces results

Various studies show that having the right mindset improves results in conjunction with traditional training:

  • +11% vs. control (Journal of Applied Psychology)
  • +19.4% vs. control (International Journal of Human Resource Management)
  • +37% vs. control (Salesforce.com Corporate Board Study)
  • +40% vs. control (Salesforce.com & John Barrows)

This is why it is now part of the standard curriculum for sales training for many companies (IBM, Dell).

Research studies highlight critical competencies required for top sales performance that rely on mindset:*

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Self-motivation
  • Goal orientation
  • Adaptability
  • Relationship building
  • Active listening
  • Product knowledge
  • Solution-based selling
  • Empathy
  • Proactivity
  • Self-regulation
  • Resilience
  • Communication skills
  • Persistence

Twelve of the critical competencies reflected in this research are aligned to elements of mindset, yet the vast majority of companies don’t invest in this type of training.


Mindset training is a recognised business power tool

It is important to be cautious with the content in any mindset curriculum as the subject matter could be contrived to be a bit ‘Californian’ – all joss sticks and crystals! 

However, there is plenty of evidence-based research and thought leadership in:

Sports psychology

Positive psychology

Business psychology

Behavioural economics


Stoic philosophy 

We have taken elements from science, psychology and philosophy and applied them to sales in the creation of our evidence-based mindset framework, The Thriving Sales Professional™.

The Thriving Sales Professional is tried and trusted training that has been applied by over 7,000 delegates. Companies across different sectors and sales dynamics have reported improvements in sales results following our framework delivery. This includes a well-known telecoms company where sales performance per rep improved by 71% over eight months; and a payments company that reported a 52% increase in new business acquisitions.


  • accelerated sales performance

    Traditional sales training or Mindset Development? 

    You can either stay invested in traditional sales training alone and continue to feel frustrated by the lack of impact and implementation or start prioritising your sales team’s greatest tool, their mind. With mindset training, you’ll start seeing robust improvement in sales performance, team culture and key staff retention.

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