Many of you reading this heading might think that it reads backwards. That is, it should state that “more sales will lead to greater happiness!” This notion is intuitive with almost all salespeople receiving a shot of endorphins (the happiness hormone) when they close a sale. A recent study concludes, however, that being happy leads to more sales – 37% more sales in fact according to the author of the Harvard Business Review article, Shawn Achor. A bestselling author of two books on the subject, Achor asserts that a decade of research has shown that a good healthy level of happiness helps people’s careers not only in sales but in productivity by 31%, accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as myriad of health and quality of life improvements.
You might be asking, “Even if being happy can help sales, how can I just be more happy?” What a great question. Does Northbound have a workshop on happiness? Unfortunately, we don’t, but Achor shares the results of a happiness training program done with the KPMG that proves that a company can teach it’s people how to be happier on the job and off. He also gives tips on how to do it yourself. I’m a firm believer that happiness, like selling skills, can largely be taught. What happened at KPMG in this study supports this.
With just a three-hour introduction to positive psychology and training on how to apply the principles at work, all measured areas improved including life satisfaction, perceived stress, effectiveness at work and work optimism. Even months later, this very short session’s impact was still holding strong. A key component was doing daily exercises which, after 21 days, became a habit.
The exercises were simple:
- Write down three new things you are grateful for every day;
- Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;
- Exercise for 10 mins a day
- Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out
- Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team
I’ve read a lot about cognitive psychology over the years – especially the groundbreaking work of Dr. Aaron Beck – and the themes are consistent with the KPMG study. Every feeling that you have is created by thoughts. Therefore, change your thoughts and you can change your feelings – including happiness.
The incredibly compelling part of focusing on gratitude, positive experiences and kindness is that once you train your brain to change the pattern of how it works, you get better results. When you get better results, you have even more great stuff to focus on which leads to more happiness. More happiness leads to greater results and the cycle continues.
Unfortunately for many of us in sales, it can become a downward spiral just as quickly. Focusing on the sale you missed, on the sales manager who is annoying you, or on the prospect who was rude can create, as Zig Ziglar calls it, “stinkin’ thinkin‘”. Happiness and attitude go south and so do your sales. They feed off each other and before you know it, you’re in a miserable slump. Don’t let this happen to you!
Print out the 5 daily actions and start today turning them into habits. A very small commitment of your time will pay tremendous dividends in both your happiness and your sales performance. It could very well end up being the greatest investment you ever made!