How The Brain Conspires To Sabotage Sales Training…..

…..And Keep You Stuck Where You Are

Every one of us resists significant change of any kind. Our brain has a built-in mechanism that resists change and keeps all of our bodily functions, behaviors and income within very narrow limits. Every time we attempt to make any significant change to move out of our comfort zone by doing something different this mechanism, which acts like a thermostat, jumps in and snaps us back to our previous narrowly defined set point.

As a graduate exercise physiology student at the University of South Carolina, I studied a concept called homeostasis. This concept basically says that the human body strives for equilibrium and constancy. Nowhere is this more evident physiologically than the regulation of body temperature. When we are healthy our body temperature seldom fluctuates more than one or two degrees in any twenty-four hour period. Only when we are ill does it rise more than five or six percent. And if it were to rise ten percent or more than normal we would be in serious trouble and perhaps even die.

This same physiological principle also applies to human behavior and income level. There is a certain behavioral and income comfort zone that we all operate in. When we stray outside of this comfort zone we become very distressed. Nowhere is this more evident than in our income level. Over the least two decades I have observed that my sales training clients can experience an income rise or drop of about 10 percent without experiencing terrible distress. Let that income level rise or fall more than about 10 percent and they get uncomfortable and will unconsciously do things that will insure that they get back to the set point or “normal” for them.

For example, let a sales person “get lucky”, close a big deal and earn a significant income above what they are accustomed to making and they will unconsciously sabotage themselves. I did. In 1986, I made one sale in the spring of that year that paid me more money than I had ever made in one year. I then, unconsciously, spent the rest of the year doing next to nothing and ended up just barely having my best year ever. The old adage, “don’t get above your raising” kicked in and ensured that I didn’t have a blowout year. This same phenomenon is the reason that 99 percent of all lottery winners end up pissing away all of their winnings within a few short years of hitting it big. They can’t handle prosperity and are uncomfortable with all of their new found wealth and in order to “get comfortable” they squander their wealth and go back to their old comfortable ways.

The principle of homeostasis works in families and social groups as well. Nowhere is this more evident than in a large bureaucracy such as government (think post office here) or education and is the primary reason we will never see any significant change in either one. Change will only come to these organizations when it is imposed by some external and unavoidable catalyst.

Homeostasis, doesn’t distinguish between good change and bad change. It resists all change and is one of the major reasons that any sales training that teaches radically new and different strategies and tactics is seldom adopted by the participants unless there is continuous – at least twice a month reinforcement training for a minimum of at least eight months.

The questions for you dear reader is: How do you deal with homeostasis? How will you make change for the better easier to adopt? How will you make change last?

These questions rise to great importance when you seek to become a New School Selling Sales Master. If you have been hacking around the sales arena for years as a mediocre performer and have now decided that you are finally going take some professional sales training and make the big break through, how will you react to this new and radically different sales training?

Ultimately, you have to decide if you really do want to spend the time and effort it takes to get on and stay on the path of sales mastery. All odds are against you, so you must know going in what to expect or you will most certainly revert back to the old ways and your future will be like your past.

2 replies
  1. John Edwards
    John Edwards says:

    I completely agree Steve. I have managed sales people who want to have more commission, but never raise their standard of living to match the income. I have also had some that would close a few good sales and coast, knowing that the commission would “carry” them for a while. I think the same dynamic is associated with the entitlement mentality we are experiencing.


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