Albert Bandura coined the original term and the concept of self-efficacy, which is defined as “how well one can execute courses of action to deal with prospective situations”. Its innate meaning is really the “belief” in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations.
In the current COVID-19 crisis, belief is really the key between selling and not-selling. Nothing else. If your sales organization has the belief that it can still execute even when prospects or customers alike may have their heart and mind set on other objectives, personal or professional, you are better positioned than majority of sales organizations and sales reps to come out of the turn successfully.
However, self-efficacy is not inherent in every sales representative in the same way, some may have a strong sense of self-efficacy and others a weak sense of self-efficacy. Those in the former are always in a better position to:
• Recover from setbacks and obstacles
• View challenges as opportunities to hone their skills
• Even further cement their interest in their work and the sales activities needed to be conducted to achieve success
• Perform better and persevere under stressful scenarios
Studies on the topic of self-efficacy have been successfully correlated to performance at work. While one’s sales experience in similar situations as COVID-19 puts them in a better position to execute (given they have dealt with economic instability and fear in the market) there are factors besides experience that can help boost one’s self-efficacy. These factors are:
• Experience (as discussed above)
• Vicarious Experience
• Verbal Persuasion
• Physiological and Psychological state
Absent experience, the last three are both critical to boosting your self-efficacy. So here’s how you can do it:
1. (Vicarious Experience) Observe someone who is positive and continuing to go into their sales role daily with the mindset that they are going to sell no matter the situation. This is not to state that they aren’t empathetic to the current crisis and with people experiencing hardships, but this individual should be someone you can model and has a positive effect on your motivation through their behaviors. Join in on their calls or meetings if needed because of the need to work from home.
2. (Verbal Persuasion) Listen to positive or encouraging messages and positive talk from others or positive self-talk. Talk to your mentors, managers, or coaches to get some positive affirmation going. If they can’t do this (they’re in the wrong role first), then there are plenty of online resources through YouTube.
3. (Physiological and Psychological State) The more at ease and calm you are with your approach the stronger your self-efficacy and belief. So do things that will help you calm down, relax, and not tense up or become anxious. That may mean taking a walk if needed, at home exercise, turning off the news, or practicing mindfulness (I encourage the Calm App or HeadSpace).
How does technology play a role here, well, those with higher self-efficacy will use technology as an enabler to help them get to their end goal especially if they “believe” that technology has a positive impact on their performance. For this reason, evaluate what you currently have that can be used to boost your self-efficacy.
Off the top of mind, they could be sales enablement tools such as sales coaching and training solutions, sales engagement platforms, etc. that have call recording which can help you improve upon “verbal persuasion” and “vicarious experience”. If you dig up some past calls for your team and how certain individuals may have overcome challenges. Understandably different scenario today, but they key is to instill a belief and sense of perseverance even if challenges present themselves.
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