Grit – The virtue of success in sales
Sales and its myths
The sales profession is surrounded by myths; it is a profession for extroverts with an innate ability to communicate and convince people to buy what they do not want and thus making it a very unpredictable career option. These myths have distanced a considerable number of women graduates from aspiring for a sales job, and if they did take up the job, these myths have only come to become facts for many of them resulting in career switching.
By virtue, sales is a challenging profession and are considered to be fitting only for the brave hearts. Time is a witness to the fact that the best communicators, the most flexible, adaptable, talented and knowledgeable people were hired for sales. The expectation from these outclassed professionals is that they would deliver great returns to the company by increasing client/ customer base. The everyday challenges that women face in achieving this expectation either advance or retreat them from pursuing sales.
Success Formula for Sales
Despite the realities of hardships in sales, many women succeeded to become celebrated saleswomen. Understanding their road to success helps derive inspiration. Angela Duckworth in her book “Grit” explains the key components to success as passion and perseverance. Passion leads to commitment; it is an intrinsic identified motivation that contains a person from falling apart and nurtures enjoyment of the endeavor for the accomplishment of set goals. And, perseverance gives direction; it is an invisible guide that directs a person towards a resolute cause.
Passion + Perseverance = GRIT
Many women take up the sales profession, but it is the paragons of perseverance dogged in their pursuits become highly accomplished. Talent and skill are the gateways to any profession.
However, just talent or skill or both combined are not directly proportionate to the successful career in sales. This is a profession where daily rejection is inevitable. Facing rejection armored with talent and skill definitely proves to be effective; however, the formula derived by Angela disproves the myth about talent and skill.
Talent x Effort = Skill; Skill x Effort = Achievement
This implies; Talent x Effort2= Achievement
Therefore, the outliers who demonstrate unusual ability, coupled with exceptional zeal and hard work, are remarkable in their profession.
The prejudice about talent and skill distracts us from the most important thing – Effort.
Talent is how quickly your skills improve when an effort is invested and achievement is what happens when the acquired skills are put to use. The effort builds skill and it makes skill productive.
While many take up sales jobs enthusiastically, with a high level of confidence on talent and skill; when encountered with the grim reality give up far too easily, far too early, and far too often. The realization that selling is not a natural talent for them, suppresses their enthusiasm to pursue sales. However, by doing something repeatedly, something that is not a natural talent or skill becomes second nature. Without effort, talent is an unmet potential and skill is unused energy.
Although talent and effort scale up a career, Grit, which is rare, peaks the model for success. Grit helps one to have a clearly defined philosophy that provides guidelines and boundaries to stay on track. It is the formula for success, which is an outcome of several experiments and research work carried out on various professionals. It has proven to be the appropriate parameter to judge the ability of a person to pursue a goal till the end.
Identifying the ultimate goal, i.e. life philosophy is the pillar for developing grit. A clear goal hierarchy, that is unified, aligned, and coordinated with the top level goal results in joyful endurance. Relentless endurance to show up every day and pursue the goal is the ultimate truth to success.
Intrinsic Motivation for Sales
To grow grit, three intrinsic internal qualities that require close attention and nurturing are self-efficacy, growth mindset and resilience.
Self-efficacy, as righty defined by psychologist Albert Bandura, is one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. It is influenced by behaviors, environment and cognitive factors. Each seen behavior can either change or strengthen the cognitive self; these learned behaviors can contribute to the behavior of an individual. Therefore, the following cognitive factors play a vital role in building self-efficacy.
Experiences: Mastering experiences helps an individual to achieve tasks ranging from simple to more complex thus developing high self-efficacy.
Modeling: Observing an identifiable model that exhibits the process of accomplishing a behavior induces confidence to improve self-efficacy.
Emotional States: Ensuring an individual’s perception of emotion is either reinforced or altered prior to attempting a new behavior cultivates positive self-efficacy.
Social Persuasion: Encouragement or discouragement directly manifests an individual’s self-efficacy. Discouragement impacts the efficacy more effectively when compared to
encouragement. Hence, nurturing the cognitive self to embrace encouragement and disregard discouragement ensures high self-efficacy.
Studies have observed that individuals with high self-efficacy believe that they can perform well and are more likely to take up challenges as something to be mastered but not avoided.
Growth mindset, the concept developed by psychologist Carol Dweck writes “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” Alternatively, a fixed mindset makes people believe that their character, intelligence and creative ability are static and cannot be changed. This mindset produces an innate need to prove oneself repeatedly, making it the all-consuming goal.
Whereas a growth mindset advocates that intelligence can be developed, it advances a desire to learn and a tendency to embrace challenges, to persist in the face of setbacks, to see effort as the path to mastery, to learn from criticism, to discover lessons and inspiration in the success of others, and thus obtain a greater sense of free will to reach ever-higher levels of achievement.
Thus, mindset is an interpretative process that prompts us to understand what’s going on around us. A fixed mindset constantly judges and evaluates using every piece of information as evidence either for or against. On the other hand, growth mindset nurtures a voracious desire for learning, constantly searching for opportunities as inputs to facilitate learning and constructive action.
Resilience is the tendency to bounce back and capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
Research has shown that resilience is ordinary and commonly demonstrated by all. It involves a considerable amount of emotional distress, which can be contained by behaviors, thoughts and actions learned and developed.
The important factors that contribute to resilience are:
1. Caring and Supportive Relationships: Relationships within and outside family that create love and trust, contribute role models and extend encouragement and reassurance help reinforce a person’s resilience.
2. Emotional Intelligence: The capacity to be aware of, express and manage strong feelings and impulses.
3. Resilience can be developed by learning from experiences and discovering self-worth, maintaining flexibility and hopeful outlook during stressful circumstances, getting help from support groups and accepting change as inevitable, pursuing goals with utmost trust in oneself and companions.
Overrated talent and glorified skill do not take a saleswoman through every condition of selling, but a conscious effort to cultivate intrinsic internal motivation surrounded by a purposeful life philosophy would guide her towards success. Grit can catapult a successful career in sales.
Go! Get Grittier! Start Selling!!
Mrs. K. Grace Mani,
Asst Professor, SSIM
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