It was raining a torrent on this gray, cold day as John, a territory manager for a manufacturer’s distributor, scurried from his car and into the office of one of his clients. As he got in the door, he wiped the water from his glasses with a napkin he had in his pocket.
Kathy, the company receptionist, was there to greet him. “Geez, it’s really coming down out there!” said Kathy, understating the obvious.
“Tell me about it,” said John, “Hey, is Larry in today? I have some new products I need to show him.” He asked her without pausing. Kathy, knowing John for years has always stopped in on Tuesdays, ushered him into Larry’s office immediately.
Negative Talk Sets Low Expectations
“Hey Larry, how’s business going?” John asked the normally gregarious man.
“Not too good, we’re extremely slow,” Larry answered in a depressed manner.
Then Larry leaned closer to John and asked an all-too-familiar question that he has heard a lot lately, “Hey, off the record, how is everyone else doing out there?”
As usual, John answered on cue. “Everyone is telling me it’s slow right now, Larry. A lot of companies have laid off people. It’s terrible out there.” And so John, thinking that he was bonding with Larry, has unknowingly laid the groundwork for his own failure.
Is it any wonder that since John has normalized poor expectations, Larry’s account will be reaching the 90 days overdue status very soon?
The self-fulfilling prophecy of low expectations can be more damaging than any other real or imagined stumbling block to operating a profitable business.
Your Expectations Create Your Results
Simply stated, negative talk can set our expectations and help create a blueprint for disaster. Especially when that expectation is coming from an impartial outsider and is a validation of ones own self-limiting beliefs.
Of course, the opposite is true as well.
When one expects with confidence that good things will happen, those thoughts and attitudes can create success, too. Our expectations have a remarkable effect on the people around us and on our success or lack of it. More so, it can determine our attitude, good or bad. In turn, the people around us start to reflect our attitudes back toward us.
The Science Of Expectation
For more than 40 years, Dr. Robert Rosenthal studied the impact of one’s expectations on the behavior of others. In his book, Pygmalion In the Classroom, Rosenthal reveals in many different studies how powerful the effect of expectations can be.
In these studies, teachers were given a group of students and were told that they were gifted and above average in intelligence. Unknown to these teachers, the students were selected from the general school population and were not advanced but actually were average or below average instead.
Because of the positive expectations that were embedded into the minds of these teachers, the students surprisingly received grades and accolades far beyond what anyone would have expected. They simply outperformed their peers. They went on to perform with behavior and grades far superior than anyone could have predicted based on their past performance.
Rosenthal calls this the ‘Pygmalion effect’.
Take a moment to think about how we as sales people can help set the expectations of our clients based only on the words or attitudes we project.
You, the salesperson, can be a very powerful influence and can help to build up or tear down expectations.
Take Action To Expect More
Think about taking action to harness the power of creating expectations. Here are 3 things you can change immediately to create a better, more successful vision:
- End The Pity Party – When a client asks you to commiserate with them over the poor economy or even prods you for information about their competitor, don’t feed the negative expectations. Instead, convey to your client all of the opportunities that are available to them through the many different solutions your company offers. Let them know that the smart contractors like them are finding ways to succeed even in a challenging economy.
- Build Esteem In Your Buyer – Use the power of praise. Always let your regular clients know that you expect the best from them. Tell them how much you admire their ability to pull through, even when things are tough. Assume that they are smart enough to find a way to get more calls to fill their customer hopper. Then let them know that you think this about them. Your client should feel 10 feet tall after talking with you. Leave them looking forward to the next time you get together.
- Stop The Gossip – Just because you are frustrated with a certain account, maybe someone who talks down or who disrespects you, don’t try to make yourself feel better by gossiping about them. The first thing the person you are gossiping with is wondering is, “What is he or she saying about me when MY back is turned?'” This visit is not about YOU. It is about the client and the issues that they are going through and how your services can solve them. Stay focused on how you can help them.
Expect and It Shall Be Done
Remember that what you expect of yourself is what you accomplish.
If your message is always about communicate how the suffering of the industry, then that is what those around you will believe. If you talk about how there are pockets of hope and success out there, those around you will be witness to those successes.
Help yourself and your clients visualize the path to achieving success.
It always leaves a clue and it is available to all of us. Just be aware of, understand and take action on your expectations.
Expect the best of yourself and those around you and you will always find yourself with the success and relationships that you have always wanted.