It’s 5:52pm and I’m sitting in my 1986 Firebird in a suit and tie purchased on a credit card. I’m looking in my rearview mirror and reciting the words, “I’m the best salesman in the world” over and over again. I change my voice inflection. I change my facial expression. I change my volume. I look myself dead in the eye and say it at least 50 times. Then, I grab my door handle and pull open my car door.
I’m going to go sell a $20,000 sunroom in less than two hours. A nice young couple, who actually thinks I am here just to design a room they might win, will buy it.
I walk out of the house 2 1/2 hours later with a check for $2,000. This is the power of autosuggestion.
Autosuggestion is the practice of repeating something to yourself over and over until you actually believe it. I was 19 years old when I had this job. The commute from Lebanon, PA to York, PA was a solid 60 minutes — yes, even in a Firebird driven by a 19 year old. The smartest thing I ever did was use that commute time to listen to audiobooks (tip: Listening to audiobooks when you commute can give you the information you need to further your career and change your life, when you find the right material you will actually look forward to your commute — as I do). During my commute time at this particular job, I listened to one particular audiobook called “The Secrets of Closing the Sale,” by Zig Ziglar.
Since the late seventies, Ziglar was a highly-paid sales trainer and eventually transitioned in to motivational speaking. I had never tried anything like autosuggestion before. But I was motivated to sell and decided to give it a shot. Within three months I was ranked fourth in the company in total sales and I was the youngest salesman in the entire company. In fact, I looked so young that they originally hesitated to hire me. They even encouraged me to wear a fake wedding ring just so I’d look married and hopefully seem a bit older.
My job consisted of receiving a daily appointment somewhere in central Pennsylvania at a home address. These appointments were set up through a clever strategy based on using the name, address and phone number information the company collected through a ‘register to win this sunroom’ sweepstakes. Unsuspecting people would stroll through the mall and see a mock sunroom set up inside the mall as a demo display. A sweepstakes sign stood right next to the demo sunroom, tempting them to register to win the sunroom in an annual drawing. They’d fill out the entry form. Our telemarketing department would call them and tell them that they were in the final round of the drawing. During the call, the telemarketer would recommend that a representative visit them to design the room in case they win. Once the appointment was made, I’d get a phone call with an address and a time slot. The telemarketer’s job was to get me in the house. That’s it.
From there, I’d have to put on a two hour presentation for the homeowner. What’s more — 99% of the homeowners that didn’t buy on the very first visit never ended up buying. You either sold on the first visit or you just didn’t sell — or get paid.
So, to recap:
- They think I’m here to show them a room they may win
- My presentation is about to take two hours of their evening, and they don’t know it
- If I don’t sell on the first visit, I’m not making any money…I’m on full commission
Through my brief time at this company I was chased out of a house with a baseball bat and once threatened to have a doberman released on me — just to name two interesting scenarios.
But using autosuggestion I started to reprogram my mind and this impacted my self-confidence. I literally transformed myself in to a selling machine. The autosuggestion I practiced, by repeating “I am the best salesman in the world” over and over again, eventually penetrated my own psyche. I believed it. I drank my own Kool Aid.
At one point, I was at a sales convention in Philadelphia and the president of the company asked everyone to stand up. He started to ask a series of questions and asked people to sit down depending on their answers. He asked things like, “Who has closed more than $50,000 in sales this month?” He eventually got to a high number (I can’t recall the exact number) and there were only four of us standing. Then he said, “Anyone under 20 years old please stay standing.” I was now the only person standing. His point was that age didn’t matter. It was all about effort and mindset.
Fast-forward 20 years or so. Here I am, still listening to tons of audiobooks again on my hour commute on route 78 every morning and evening. Time and again I have heard the same practice of autosuggestion across many of the best self-development speakers and leading authors including Anthony Robbins, Napoleon Hill and more.
Anthony Robbins, the world’s best motivational speaker and life coach, stresses that using autosuggestion really only works if it’s done with emotion. He calls these autosuggestion statements ‘incantations’ and uses them daily in his own life. This guy has coached former Presidents so I take his advice seriously. I share this with you because it has worked for me. And 20 years later, I see that many other people have figured it out too.
It takes daily, consistent and meaningful effort. But it works. In it’s simplest form, choose a single phrase that you know you need to believe in order to accomplish something. For me, it was that I was “the best salesman in the world.” I said it every day for at least 10 minutes before I entered a home for a sales call. It took less than a month for it to start working and the effect magnified over time.
So what is it that you need to believe? Find your statement. Find a mirror or just do it while you are running or at home alone. Repeat it passionately over and over for at least 10 minutes, daily. Even better, do it right before the activity you need it to reinforce. Just like a football player before the superbowl, prepare your mind and body for what you need it to do.
The key here is ‘passionately’ — by using emotion you physiologically activate yourself and the words start to create the reality in your mind. If you just say the words without the emotion, the effect is far less because you’re not engaging yourself physiologically.
You are literally reprogramming yourself for success when you do this right. I hope you might try it for a month. It works, I’ve done it and I hope you might give yourself the chance to prove it can work for you too.
One final, and very important point. Yes, those pictures of me are from the mid-nineties and it’s ok to laugh.