Sales Training: The Pygmalion Effect
Sales Training: By Kevin Graham, Managing Director of Empowered Sales Training
Years ago, many people were familiar with this phenomenon. It’s a classic and as relative today as ever. Yet, I was recently astonished at how few people had even heard of it, let alone had a real grasp of the concept or its potential.
The Pygmalion Effect is sometimes referred to as the Self Fulfilling Prophecy… and for good reason. There are many examples of scientific research where it has been proven.
One experiment from decades ago included students entering a new year of school. In many cases, teachers were provided false information about each student’s capability and potential. Some average students were labeled gifted and some excellent students were labeled as poor students with a history of low grades.
In essence, the teachers’ expectations were set for each student.
The students ended up performing consistent with the expectations and not consistent with their own real track record. Why did this happen? The teachers expected certain behaviors and performance so their image of the student had a significant impact on how they related to the child. The child, in turn, responded to the teachers consistent with the teacher’s interactions.
So how does this play out in the real world of sales success? In some cases, sales professionals are classified in the sales leader’s mind as having a certain potential. Those biases may be based on prior work experience, reference material or simply the opinion of the sales leader. For good or bad, if the manager expects a certain level of performance from a salesperson, the interactions with that salesperson tend to reflect those expectations.
Taking it to another level… and a level that offers great control and responsibility for the individual: consider our individual self-expectation. If we believe we are capable of success within a specific industry, sales model or position, we typically will act consistent with that self-expectation. The same being true if we do not believe we have the capacity for success within the framework of our professional environment. We actually work to make our own expectations real in terms of future results. This is the relation between belief and behavior.
The Self Fulfilling Prophecy (The Pygmalion Effect) is very powerful and consistent with the concept of empowerment or visualization. As we see ourselves and our individual future, we act consistent with those beliefs and the balance of our beliefs and behaviors work together to create that new reality.
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