To Boost Sales, Control Your Inside Game

IESE Prof. Cosimo Chiesa leads Continuous Education session

16/01/2013

2011 CHIESA, C._208_MEI3_IESE_071349

Selling is a complex activity, particularly in times of uncertainty. And the current crisis is presenting unprecedented challenges. Many presentations do not bear fruit, reaching monthly targets becomes practically impossible and frustration gradually seeps into the minds of the sales professionals. According to IESE Prof. Cosimo Chiesa, today’s crisis is not any different from others that humanity has faced throughout history. The key to succeeding in this environment does not lie in sales technique or skill, but in attitude.

In a Continuous Education session on Jan. 15 on IESE’s Barcelona campus, and in a lecture hall filled to capacity, Prof. Chiesa discussed how sales professionals today face a world in which change is occurring rapidly and is marked by constantly evolving technologies. 

Faced with increasingly fierce competition, many manufacturers and sellers resort to lowering prices to achieve certain market shares. This a mistake that must be avoided, said Prof. Chiesa, since "the consumer doesn´t understand margins, only value propositions.”

At the same time, many companies are finding it hard to offer a specific value proposition through their products so they can compete in increasingly narrow sectors, he said. Many companies are choosing to close, or are forced to do so. The way forward, he said, is to work harder and outpace the competition. "Why do some companies succeed while others do not? A multitude of business studies worldwide indicate that 80 percent of professional success depends on attitude. That is the answer," he said.

The Inside Game of Sales

In the second part of his presentation, Prof. Chiesa delved into the concept of attitude, its origins and its effects. He argued that the success of a salesperson is controllable and that mindset and motivation are forces much stronger than people believe. Seventy-five percent of one’s attitude is marked by modifiable (non-genetic) factors such as education, environment, experience, physiology or language.

These factors determine what are called values ​​and beliefs, which in turn shape a person’s thoughts and trigger our feelings, followed by his or her expectations and attitudes. These comprise the emotional elements that define our “inner game” as people and professionals. The process affects behavior and, ultimately, performance - what is called one’s “outer game.” If we fail to have a positive and fighting attitude in our inner game, it is difficult to achieve satisfactory results, particularly in sales.

Knowing oneself and working to define and modify areas for personal improvement is a fundamental task, he stressed. Setting goals for what we want to be, what we want to get and why we want it will provide a basis to support and guide success.  For that reason, people who are able to control their inside game are able to carry out their work in a much more positive way, he concluded.