What if I told you that there’s one trait that almost guarantees your success in sales?
What if I told you that there are multiple research and case studies to back up this claim?
What if I told you that there are companies that have changed their hiring practices to include a screening for this one trait?
How would you react to learning how to develop this trait that has been proven to predict a salesperson’s success with wild accuracy?
If your answer is, “hurry up & tell me”, then good because there is one.
This powerful, proven, and predictive trait, guaranteed to greatly increase your sales success is…
Yep, that’s it. Optimism.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that optimistic sales professionals outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%. These findings held true across multiple studies. As a result of these powerful insights MetLife—one of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs—changed its hiring practices to include a screening for optimism, which ultimately improved employee retention & greatly increased sales productivity.
Optimism is the extent to which an individual maintains positive expectancies for the future. It does not mean being blind to the actual reality of a situation. It means maintaining a positive outlook because we can’t be realistic about the future, only optimistic or pessimistic. In the words of Tal Ben Shahar, Ph.D., positive psychology expert, and Harvard professor: “Things do not necessarily happen for the best, but some people are able to make the best of things that happen.“
Optimism can turn a situation that looks negative or bleak into an opportunity or something to learn from. It can replace the draining thoughts of pessimism with something that will create more positive energy.
So, how do you become more optimistic? In other words, how do you create more positive energy?
Simply put, you bring energy to every situation—and that energy has an impact on your sales success and overall satisfaction in life. In order to understand how to train your brain to be more optimistic, we first need a more specific understanding of what we mean by the word energy.
Albert Einstein, in his most famous equation, E=mc2, indicated that energy and mass are interchangeable; they are different forms of the same thing. He famously said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it.“ Whether we are conscious of it or not, everything is composed of energy, including our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
There are two kinds of energy—catabolic energy, which is destructive and draining, and anabolic energy, which is constructive and fueling.
Anabolic describes energy that is constructive, expanding, fueling, and growth-oriented. Anabolic energy helps move you forward and achieve positive, long-term, successful results, and is useful in leading others in the same direction. Anabolic energy fuels your body, your perceptions, and your interactions, and allows you to have a more complete view of situations, and to more easily come up with solutions. Anabolic energy is the cornerstone of sustainable high performance and consistent sales success.
Catabolic energy, on the other hand, is draining, destructive, resisting, and contracting energy. While catabolic energy provides you with an energetic boost to combat what you perceive to be a stressful situation, it is distracting and acts like a blinder through which you only see a limited view of a situation, thus reducing the choices available to you. Though, it may be useful in the short term, when used on a long-term basis catabolic energy is toxic and ultimately undermines your performance, your health, and your happiness.
The 5 Levels Of Energy & Sales Success
With the broad categories of anabolic and catabolic energy, there are 5 different levels of energy and sales success. Levels 1 and 2 are catabolic and are associated with stress, fear, and anxiety. Levels 3 to 5 are anabolic and are related to productivity, effectiveness, and life satisfaction. The higher your level of energy, the more potential you have for success. Being aware of and understanding your energy is the first step towards being able to choose your desired energy, helping you to perform to your fullest potential.
Let’s take look at the 5 Levels of Energy & sales success one by one:
Level 1 Energy: The Victim
This lowest level of energy is catabolic. If you have any energy in this level, you are a victim to (at the effect of) certain events, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and perceptions that hold you back from success. Level 1 energy includes thoughts and feelings of guilt, fear, worry, and self-doubt.
When people operate from a Level 1 perspective, they feel as though they have a lack of choice or options. At Level 1, individuals are usually focused on problems, because that’s predominantly what draws their attention. They feel trapped by certain circumstances or believe that they are, in some way, at the effect of what happens around them. The prevailing frame of reference at Level 1 is “I lose” or “I am losing.”
We all experience Level 1 energy at times, and in some aspects of our lives, and so, it is normal. Normal, however, does not mean required. With the help of a professional coach, you can remove what is no longer working for you or desired by you and replace it with more of what you really want.
Perspective, thoughts, emotions, & actions at Level 1 Energy:
Perspective – I lose
Thoughts – I can’t win, it’s outside my control
Emotions – Fear, doubt, worry, overwhelm
Actions – Avoidance
Level 2 Energy: The Fighter
Level 2 energy is also catabolic. It is the predominant energy not only in the workplace but in life, in general. Level 2 energy is characterized by conflict, with the core emotion being anger. This energy contains thinking of antagonism, struggle, resistance, frustration, and defiance.
From a Level 2 perspective, everything tends to be viewed as black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. These judgments result in limited options, as the full scope of available possibilities is not apparent to the person operating with Level 2 energy. At Level 2, people typically come from a win/lose frame of reference “I win, so, therefore, you must lose.”
Many sales professionals frequently find themselves in Level 2 energy. After all, competing with others (and against themselves) is a key goal for many of them. In certain aspects of life, this may appear to be the case, however, even in competitive situations, there are usually more powerful and much healthier ways to achieve great results.
Perspective, thoughts, emotions, & actions at Level 2 Energy:
Perspective – You lose
Thoughts – I want to win by any means I can
Emotions – Anger, irritation, frustration, blame
Actions – Defiance
Level 3 Energy: The Rationalizer
This level is the first level of anabolic energy. At this level, people take responsibility for their thoughts, emotions, and actions, and know that what they think and feel is up to them, not others. The focus of Level 3 energy is on winning, through achieving your goals and meeting your own agenda, first and foremost.
The difference between winning at Level 3 and winning at Level 2 is that the intention of those operating from a Level 3 perspective is to have the other person win as well, but only after securing the win for themselves. The difference between Level 2 and 3 is that at Level 2, the key thought is “I want you to lose,” and at Level 3, the key thought is that “I want to win.” The result sought may be similar, but the intention behind it is light years different, energetically.
Sales professionals who have a lot of Level 3 energy are masters at rationalization. They will motivate themselves and others by finding ways to cope, release, forgive, tolerate, compromise, and explain away resentment, stress, and disappointments in order to encourage cooperation and productivity.
Perspective, thoughts, emotions, & actions at Level 3 Energy:
Perspective – I win
Thoughts – I want to win, if you win too, that’s fine
Emotions – Forgiveness, toleration
Actions – Cooperation
Level 4 Energy: The Caregiver
This energy is moderately anabolic, and its core thought is concern for others. It is the level of caring, giving, supporting, and helping. Level 4 energy looks and feels very selfless, since the focus of these actions is to work and achieve so others win and succeed.
At Level 4, people take little personally, as they are more able to see things objectively. People with Level 4 energy feel that a true win for them is achieved when the other person wins first, and so, the Level 4 perspective is “You win,” since being of service to others supersedes the need to do for themselves.
Sales professionals with Level 4 energy truly care for and help others succeed. They have a great deal of compassion for others and are inspired, and inspire those around them, to serve others. They often foster collaboration, teamwork, and loyalty in their pursuit of success.
Perspective, thoughts, emotions, & actions at Level 4 Energy:
Perspective – You win
Thoughts – I want you to win
Emotions – Compassion, concern, caring
Actions – Service
Level 5 Energy: The Optimist
This high anabolic energy is found in top sales performers. With Level 5 energy, you see opportunities, possibilities, and solutions everywhere. This energy allows you to have a wide-ranging view of situations and, thus, have many choices available to you.
Level 5 energy reconciles good and bad, and right and wrong, so that nothing is judged one way or the other. People with Level 5 energy begin to see everything as an opportunity, meaning they are genuinely as excited by the things that do not go as planned as by the things that do because they know they can handle and capitalize on whatever comes up.
The intention associated with this energy is predominantly, “We all win, or no one wins.” A lot of people give lip service to this concept, but few actually walk the talk with it. Sales professionals with Level 5 energy are calm, powerful, entrepreneurial-minded, conﬁdent, optimistic, and feel a sense of inner peace and fulfillment.
Perspective, thoughts, emotions, & actions at Level 5 Energy:
Perspective – We win
Thoughts – We all win, or no one wins
Emotions – Trust, calm, curiosity, confidence, optimism
Actions – Acceptance
A few key points to bear in mind:
- The 5 Levels of Energy progress from the lowest, most catabolic state to the highest, most anabolic state.
- No one is exclusively anabolic or catabolic; energy is a continuum, and we all possess energy across the whole range.
- Although there may be levels that we spend more time in than others, we fluctuate from level to level throughout the day.
- Everyone is a combination of all the levels of energy—it’s where you spend most of your time that determines your sales success.
How To Become An Optimist
Applying the energy levels is conceptually simple, but our success in applying them grows with practice. There are three basic components:
1. Be Aware.
First, you need to become aware of how you show up in different situations. Without the awareness developed by knowing the 5 Levels of Energy, you might wallow in victimhood (Level 1) or frequently engage in destructive conflict (Level 2) without any thought of how your energy is affecting your effectiveness. Simply ask yourself in the moment, “Is the energy I’m bringing to this situation anabolic or catabolic? Is it constructive and fueling or is it contracting and draining? Is it helping me to move forward or is it holding me back?”
2. Recognize Where You Are
As your awareness of your energy grows, you’ll learn to recognize where you are on the continuum of the energy levels. This can be trickier than it sounds, and it’s an area in which a professional coach can be an invaluable aid. We fluctuate between different levels based on how we’re thinking about the situation we’re in. We may have thoughts or beliefs stemming from our personal experiences that bias our perceptions and keep us in the catabolic range. Challenging those beliefs and questioning how true they are today, is the first step to loosen the grip of catabolic energy.
3. Choose Where You Want To Be
Once you’ve recognized where you are, you can slow down, consider the situation, and consciously choose the level that’s the most productive or useful for the situation you’re in. Sometimes this is an in-the-moment action, and sometimes developing this skill can take a bit longer.
With practice, however, you will become aware of the energy at play in your life, learn to recognize what level of energy you’re in, and develop the skills to shift your energy when it feels off. And eventually, optimism (and the numerous benefits of it) will come to you as naturally as riding a bike.