The biggest limiter of sales success (outside of the absence of specific skill/s), is belief. Or, more specifically, lack of it. As human beings, negative and self-limiting beliefs are pretty common but, for sales people these impact the numbers – the gauge on which their performance and success are measured. Therefore, being able to recognise and turnaround these negative beliefs is critical to winning deals, hitting targets and realising potential. Here I will highlight some of the common negative beliefs held by sales people, look at why we have them and, most importantly, provide some strategies for overcoming them.
Common negative beliefs
Negative and self-limiting beliefs plague sales people for the entirety of the sales process. As such, they impact whether a sales person can secure the win-win, whether they even pick the phone up to a prospect in the first place and everything in-between. Here are some of the more common negative beliefs I’ve come across in my coaching of sales people. If you recognise any of these, be sure to read on to the end.
- “They won’t be interested in speaking to me”
- “I don’t know enough about our product/services to sell them” (most common in those new to a company, who hold the misconception that they must know absolutely everything in order to be able to sell)
- “The customer knows more than I do and they’ll see through me”
- “The market’s dead at the moment, there’s no business out there”
- “I’m going to get beaten up on price, so I’ll have to discount”
- “I’m just in a slump at the moment, I need to give it time”
- “I won’t know how to deal with their objections”
- “I won’t know how best to negotiate”
- “I’ll never be as good a sales person as: (insert name here)”
- “I’m not going to hit target this month anyway”
- “I’m probably not going to win this deal”
It’s important to note that there are is a difference between self-limiting belief and genuinely lacking the skill/technique to do something, but even where there is an actual skills gap, the belief is still self-limiting, in so far as a skill/technique can be learnt. As an example; ‘I won’t know how to deal with their objections‘ could just be a self-limiting belief if the sales person simply lacks confidence in objection handling but has the skill and knowledge to do it, but it could be a genuine skill gap if the sales person has not received training on how to do this. That’s not to say this lack of confidence is unimportant, more that sometimes you just have to take yourself out of your comfort zone if you want to improve and achieve the results you desire.
Why do we limit ourselves with negative beliefs?
I believe there are 3 main factors which influence why we choose to limit ourselves with negative beliefs (note the use of the word ‘choose’, because it is a choice), these are:
- Social Style – Our initial response to situations is driven by our social style and preferences. For example, whilst some will respond with an instant ‘yes’ and think about the how later on, others prefer to determine the if and how before committing to a ‘yes’. Having a high level of self-awareness that allows you to understand how you typically behave in certain situations will enable you to recognise how self-limiting beliefs might manifest for you and take steps to counteract this.
- Resistance to Change – Moving beyond a negative belief requires you to do something differently and the fact is that it’s far easier to continue with the status quo (even when the status quo involves some level of discomfort or dissatisfaction) than it is to make change.
- Mindset – Without question, the biggest influencer on the extent to which an individual will allow negative beliefs to permeate. Those with a Growth Mindset are able to override these negative thoughts and focus instead on achievement of the end goal. Conversely, those with a Fixed Mindset let those negative beliefs hold them back. You can find lots more on Growth and Fixed Mindset in ‘How to Gain a Winning Mindset‘.
How to overcome negative and self-limiting beliefs
There’s a fantastic book, which I highly recommend, called ‘Will it Make the Boat Go Faster?’ by Ben Hunt-Davis and Harriet Beveridge. Hunt-Davis is a former Olympic gold-medal winning GB rower and this book cleverly marries compelling stories and examples from his own journey to Olympic gold, with lessons that can be applied more widely to achieve success. This book dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of beliefs and the enormous impact they can have on success. The secret to success lies in the overriding of those negative beliefs with the specific type of positive beliefs that enable you to overcome obstacles and achieve the big goals.
Beveridge, a highly-regarded and successful corporate coach, uses the acronym DICE to define the 4 specific types of belief we need to succeed:
- Deserved – To achieve success, you have to believe that you deserve that success. Whilst you might not instantly think this applies to you, a number of the common beliefs I outlined above can be attributed to this, for example; I don’t know enough about our product/services to sell them, The customer knows more than I do and they’ll see through me, or I’ll never be as good a sales person as: (insert name here). Just because someone has more knowledge and experience than you, does not mean you deserve success any less than them. If you want it and are prepared to work for it, then you deserve it.
- Important – If something is not important enough to you, you’re never likely to achieve it. Reminding yourself of the reason why, the end goal, is invaluable when it comes to overriding those negative beliefs – why you do the job you do, why do you want to win the current deal, why you want to reach out to a new prospect? These motivations can be work or personal related, or a combination of both. Think about how the achievement of your goal will make you feel and what the benefits will be. Sales leaders and organisations should ensure that their reward structure is one that heightens levels of importance.
If this is something you’re finding especially challenging, take a look at ‘Re-igniting your Sales Mojo‘
- Can do – Even the most successful people would admit to occasionally allowing those feelings of ‘can’t’ overwhelm them. Can’t is simply a matter of mindset. As I alluded to earlier, even where you might genuinely be lacking a specific skill or tool you need to achieve your goal, there is always something you can do about gaining it. When you override ‘can’t’ with ‘how’, your focus changes, suddenly you find that you, in fact, ‘can’ and your outcomes accelerate. For example, if you recognised the belief ‘I’m probably not going to win this deal‘, try turning it around to ‘How can I win this deal?‘ ‘What can I do differently to ensure I achieve the outcome I’m looking for?’
- Exciting – Moving beyond something just being important to you, it also has to excite you if you are to be successful. There are very few (I’d suggest, no) successful sales people who don’t get a thrill from identifying a big opportunity, winning a deal (especially so if it has been complex or challenging) and working towards a target. This excitement pulls them through those inevitable periods of frustration, anger and doubt and ensures they remain focused on the goal
Once you’ve recognised how to override those negative self-limiting beliefs with positive ones, the next step is to ensure you maintain consistency. As any gold-medal winning athlete will tell you, success doesn’t come from applying these positive beliefs for just the last month before your big competition. It comes from incorporating these into your life, every single day, for many years before. The point is that you’ll need to constantly repeat and reinforce these positive beliefs if they’re to bring you the desired results. This will become easier over time, as these beliefs become habitual.
To find out more about how Salestrong can help your team override those negative, self-limiting beliefs to accelerate sales performance, give us a call on 01778 382733, or head to our Contact page and leave us your details there.