Applying Learned Optimism to Increase Sales Productivity

Schulman, Peter
January 1999
Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management;Winter99, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p31
Academic Journal
Why is it that individuals with the most talent are not always the most successful? Why are others over-achievers? Based on 30 years of research with over 1 million participants, Dr. Martin Seligman and his colleagues have uncovered a significant new predictor of achievement�optimistic expectations. Ability and motivation are not always enough in the absence of optimistic expectations, particularly in situations that require persistence to overcome adversity, such as sales. In other words, research has finally turned common sense wisdom into scientific fact: Expectations of success or failure are often self-fulfilling prophecies. Moreover, this fact has been taken a step further�expectations can now be measured quantitatively and training programs can transform pessimism into optimism. The benefits of optimism have been proven�increased motivation, superior achievement in various domains (including greater sales productivity), and better physical health. These findings have important implications for salesperson selection, training, and organization design.


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