PSYCHOLOGIST Martin Seliman, former president of the American Psychological Association, spent several years studying the relationship between optimistic thinking and sales success with a large group of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company salespeople.
As you can imagine, selling life insurance is considered one of the most difficult of all sales jobs. The company was spending millions of dollars on training sales agents. But most of them moved on after a few months in the job.
Seligman suggested that they hire people with high levels of optimism. When scores were matched to actual sales records, it turned out that agents who scored in the top half for optimism sold 37 per cent more insurance over two years than those in the pessimistic bottom half. Even more interesting, agents who scored in the top 10 per cent for optimism sold 88 per cent more than those ranked in the most pessimistic 10 per cent.
Their high levels of optimism meant that they were able to deal better with nine out of 10 rejections.
Agents who scored in the bottom 50 per cent on the same test were twice as likely to leave their jobs as their more optimistic colleagues, while the bottom 25 per cent were three times as likely to quit.