While at a recent business dinner, I received a call from my eight-year-old son. “Hi, Daddy,” he said in a low, remorseful tone. I knew from the sound of his voice that something was wrong. “I’m not happy and Mom’s mad—I broke one of the cross-beams on my bed.”

I listened to the story for as long as I could before returning to my dinner guests. Twenty minutes later, I spoke to him again, expecting things to pick up where they had left off. Instead, I received an unexpected surprise. His tone was brighter and he was in a much better mood. When I asked him about the change, he simply said he decided not to be sad anymore. I immediately thought his mood swing must have been influenced by an episode of Wipeout or The Three Stooges. But he was very clear about his decision—very deliberate about making a choice to change his attitude and the way he felt about the situation. I was impressed and it got me thinking.

Anticipating Your Prospect’s Response is Deadly

During the first call, my son was thinking, “Wow, if Mom is this mad, what’s Dad going to say?” The storyteller had taken over—that negative story we tell ourselves, that fearful inner dialogue we have about future events. The storyteller speaks with such conviction that it’s almost impossible to igore! In my son’s case, in an attempt to take back some control of the situation, he chose to be upset in preparation of my response. But then he reversed and chose a better attitude—to be happy—and he did this before he knew what my response was going to be. In other words, he detached from anticipating my response. This is a relevant point for sales professionals.

My son gave me a gift, reminding me of the three things under our control that make all the difference in our selling performance with prospects:

  • What we choose to think!
  • How we choose to feel (our attitude)!
  • How we choose to act!

What you choose to think and feel – namely, your attitude – influences the way you respond and interact in life. This is the energy you give off during prospect calls. Your attitude and energy reflect your openness to people and experiences.

Detach From the Storyteller

Here’s how the storyteller can crush your best efforts. Reluctance in two vital areas will paralyze your performance.

  • Reluctance to ask the important questions—those to which you may be unwilling to hear the answers.
  • Reluctance to a committed, consistent effort to prospecting. You focus on the storyteller’s tale of rejection.

In both cases, the storyteller produces and projects your prospects’ response. This kind of thinking, this anticipation of negative outcomes, will leave you feeling disapproved, rejected and defeated, before you even get started.

In every type of sales interaction for as long as you play the game, you should expect to hear responses such as, “We’re not interested,” or “We’re very loyal,” or “We’re happy right now, so we’re going to hold off.”

This will never change and should never rattle you. What does need to change is your attitude. If these statements cause you frustration and anxiety, your response will be embedded with defensiveness—a position of weakness, not strength. Detach from the storyteller—from the triggers and new words and responses will emerge.

Taking Back Control

Navigating the twists and turns of life is tricky and unpredictable. We shouldn’t expect to control or predict or outcomes of our prospect calls and meetings. But we can control is our response, which has everything to do with our attitude and the way we choose to think and feel.

Two simple takeaways came out of that encounter with my son. Life lessons that impact everything we do in sales and life:

  • Refuse to give the storyteller the power to control what you do and say. Stop anticipating negative outcomes. Silence the wrong inner dialogue inside you.
  • Let go! You’ll experience power when you let go of the need to control your prospect’s story and their response. Stop wasting energy on this.

Detach from the script your storyteller is writing and directing for you. Detaching is the first step to achieving the responses and outcomes you deserve.