The Power of Attitude in Sales

The Power of Attitude in Sales

There is a scene in Ron Howard's film Backdraft that still inspires me.

Kurt Russell (Bull) and William Baldwin (Brian) are talking. Bull lays out the facts about fire fighting with these words: "This isn't like selling log cabins in Aspen, Brian. If you have a bad day on this job, somebody dies."

Firefighting was a profession to Bull. Selling isn't. Selling is just a job. If you wince at Bull's dismissal of sales, think about it from the firefighter's perspective. Then ask yourself, "What if my job requires me to have one good day after another or someone might get hurt? Would I come to work a little more focused?"

One definition of professionalism is someone who has a good day at work whether or not he or she feels like it. This is critical in light of an important survey reported in Elaine Hatfield's Emotional Contagion. The survey found that, at the time, 75 percent of Americans considered every third day to be a bad one. That means a typical salesperson has four bad months a year!

Four Bad Months!

In City Slickers, Billy Crystal's character, Mitch, declares to his wife at the end of the film, "I'm not going to quit my [sales] job. I'm just going to do it better."

Your clients get better when you do. You have to choose to like the job and then choose to do it better. Too many salespeople blame bad moods and bad days instead of taking control of their own attitudes.

A good attitude is a powerful sales tool. Believing you can have one good day after another is one place to start.

When you have a good attitude, you can often change others' attitudes. Here's the proof: It is 11:45 p.m. Friday night. My plane just landed almost three hours late, and I missed the second consecutive dinner party with my dear friends. I head for my car on the frigid roof of the Madison, Wisconsin, airport parking ramp. As I get to the parking control gate, I discover my window is frozen solid. I open the door and hand the ticket to the attendant. She greets me with a pleasant, "Hello, that will be $12."

As she completes the transaction, she hands me my receipt and says, "Thank you, sir. And welcome home."

She didn't say, "Here's your receipt."

She didn't say, "There you go."

She didn't say, "Three dollars is your change."

Here is the late night parking lot attendant acting as a self-appointed welcoming party. And just when I needed a kind word.

I drive out of the airport and go home feeling better than I did when I landed. I think about how an attitude of service and a sincere concern about your fellow human beings can make a big difference in even the most minor transactions.

No matter how mundane your job, you don't have to have a mundane attitude. As long as you're going to do something, put your heart into it. Your clients will notice.

What could you do with four more good months a year?

Learn more about sales careers.