"The pessimist complains about the customer, the optimist expects him to buy, the realist adjusts the attitude to the customer for the sale." Let's look at these three points a little more closely, shall we?

In general, most people aren't particularly aware of their own attitude. They may think “I’m a positive, happy person” or describe themselves as a realist – some will even quite “happily” admit to being a pessimist.

However, very few of us actually look deeper into how this affects our internal mindset or our external behaviour as we go through life, both personally and professionally.

** So what is Attitude?
Those with teenagers will have one answer – the rest of us another… On a more serious note, if you have a sales team made up of different personalities, chances are you are dealing with different attitudes every day – as well as your own.

Psychologists define attitude as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. The key word here is learned and this learning is a direct result of experience. This can be actual personal experience or from observing others around you.

You can have an attitude about almost everything and they are usually positive or negative, but they can also be uncertain at times. However, you will have the same overriding general attitude towards almost everything you encounter.

That’s where the terms optimist, realist and pessimist come in and these terms define the general attitude of the person. This general attitude determines their own overriding behaviour and will be the driving force behind everything they do, how they do it and what they expect from it.

** How Do Attitudes Influence Behaviour?
If you have a generally optimistic attitude towards life, then your behaviour will usually match that and the same applies for the realist and the pessimist.

So looking at our three attitude types – what behaviours in the sales process are these types likely to display and how will that impact their sales results and relationship with customers?

** The Pessimist
Will not expect to win the sale. Will feel that the effort involved in dealing with the customer or winning the sale is not worth the reward they will get (or vice versa).

The pessimist will always see the cons of a sales situation and may even create the barriers to the sale themselves. They will expect problems at every turn and simply expect to fail.

Ultimately, the customer will not look forward to, or enjoy, dealing with the pessimistic salesperson and this will influence the outcome of any encounter right from the get-go. Ironically, reinforcing the pessimist’s outlook even more.

If you have pessimistic salespeople in your team then their attitude is probably due to bad past experiences in the sales process, lack of confidence or even unsuitability for the role. All of these things can be dealt with but will require time, and financial investment, in the form of coaching, training or mentoring. Even something as simple as lowering the targets for a pessimistic person who is failing to meet their current targets could be the confidence boost they need if handled appropriately.

** The Optimist
Expects to win the sale. Will want to put in extra effort to win the sale because the rewards are worth it. The optimist will see positives in every sales situation and be able to communicate those to the customer.

The optimist will feel confident about their abilities as a salesperson and this will affect their expectation levels. They will brush off “failure” as an anomaly or something that couldn't possibly be their fault.

The customer will look forward to, or enjoy, dealing with the optimist as they are generally positive and upbeat, however, there is a downside, where the optimist’s expectations may put unwanted pressure on the customer and this could potentially skew the positive outcome of the sale.

Optimistic salespeople are probably more fun to work with but their tendency to over confidence can have a negative impact on other members of the team. Optimists may benefit from higher sales targets to re-adjust their evaluation of their own abilities, as well as coaching or training on understanding personality profiles, particularly where their customers are concerned and encouraged to learn to modify their behaviour.

** The Realist
Will have no expectation about winning or losing sales on a general basis. Instead they will objectively assess each sales situation, along with their knowledge of the customer, and adjust their expectations, attitude and behaviour accordingly.

The realist may not be as overtly confident as the optimist, but may actually have better sales results, as they are more likely to listen to their customers needs, rather than telling them what they want, or being led by the customer, as in the case of pessimists.

Customers may not have any particularly strong feelings towards realistic salespeople, but this is a good thing – the focus should always be on the customer and that is what the realist excels at – simply because they place their expectations about the outcome of the sale to one side and concentrate on how to help the customer – all with the clearly envisaged, end result of achieving the sale in mind.

So as the realist would seem to make the best type of salesperson, what do you do if your team is mostly made up of optimists and pessimists? How can you change their attitudes, and therefore their behaviours, for better sales results?

** How do we change attitude?
While attitudes can have a powerful effect on behaviour, they are not set in stone. The same influences that lead to attitude formation can also create attitude change.

With coaching and on going support, people can learn to change their attitudes. Experience is a powerful attitude former and so by creating experiences for them to learn from the pessimist or optimist can slowly change their attitude and behaviour.

What attitude do you think you have as a salesperson or businessperson? Can you recognise any of the qualities discussed above in your sales people or colleagues?

Author's Bio: 

Eugene Whelan is a qualified business and life coach and is the owner of One To Ten Coaching.

He has over 25 years experience at senior management level in the manufacturing and distribution industries.

Eugene has worked in various senior roles including, sales, manufacturing and commercial.

During this time he has gained an invaluable insight into the day-to-day pressures that go with such leadership roles and the expectations to be met.

Eugene is a direct and enlightened business consultant, able to see the practical side of people and situations as well as the more intangible qualities and potential of both.