Sales people engage in self-limiting behaviour all the time. Selling is a head game; if your head isn’t in the game, you might be struggling to hit the numbers. We work with sales executives, managers and business owners who often struggle with their own self-limiting attitudes and behaviours. Consistently we’ll find a series of stories we tell ourselves that support these bad behaviours or negative thoughts. Overcoming them by changing our attitudes and thought patterns will ensure a long, successful career, higher revenues, and long-term sustainable success for even the most inexperience sales executive.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common stories we tell ourselves and how we can change our thoughts and belief structures to improve our sales performance.

I’ll make those calls tomorrow.

If you’re having a tough day, it can be difficult to pick up the phone. Selling means handling rejection on a regular basis. How you handle that rejection will make or break your success. The best sales reps are stubbornly optimistic that they will find the right client for their products or services. Any setback is just an obstacle to hurdle on their way to the win. When the going gets tough, they pick up the phone. Prospecting directly after a loss takes true grit but the truth is that the best sales professionals actually double their efforts after they’ve faced rejection. They believe in themselves enough to keep going even when things are hard.

That lead will close.

Beware of the stagnant sales funnel syndrome, where leads sit immobile day in and day out. Remember that the concept of a sales funnel is really more like a colander. When you cook spaghetti and put it in a colander, it drains off the excess water and keeps the good stuff inside. Disqualifying a lead allows you to drain that time waster out of your funnel, making more room for qualified leads that may actually make you some money. Take a hard look at your sales pipeline. Are there leads that should really be disqualified? Moving a stagnant lead to a “no,” is actually a success in one way: it allows more room in the funnel for real opportunities. If your prospecting is lagging, a stagnant lead can help hide your lack of activity. But a strong sales manager can spot this cover up in a heartbeat, help a sales rep increase their activity, and keep the sales funnel flowing.

The client likes me, so they’ll buy from me.

When does a need for approval become a weakness? If a sales rep cares more about being liked by prospects, instead of moving a deal toward the close, then you’ve got a problem. Sales executives should be focused on problem-solving and asking direct questions that will help you determine whether you can help the prospect or if you should move on to the next target. When you’re a sales rep, you may wine and dine a prospect as part of your role, but if you fail to convert them into a sale then your time may have been wasted.

The prospect always tells the truth.

This is a controversial statement. But the truth is that people tell white lies all the time. Remember the last time a prospect told you they were too busy to talk – but then ended up spending a half hour with you on the phone? How many fibs do you tell every day? Our point is that taking what the client is saying at face value may not always be in your best interests. One way to equip yourself for the “little white lie” is to develop a series of leading questions to keep a prospect engaged after they’ve expressed, “I’m too busy to talk to you,” or “Everything is fine,” or “We’re all set.” Approaching each conversation with a little bit of scepticism is important if you’re a sales rep. Listen hard for the real issues that lie beneath the words.

“No” means “No forever.”

You’ve accomplished the difficult work of researching and qualifying a lead. You’ve gotten them on the phone for a discussion. You’ve developed some bond and rapport with the right decision maker. Perhaps you’ve even visited them to make a sales pitch, and you’ve finally gotten a resounding, “No thank you.” One of the mistakes that a sales exec can make is to assume that the situation might not change down the road. Many sales reps fail to put that potential client back into their sales funnel to contact again in six months – or three. Selling takes serious communication skills, but it also requires diligence in following up. The majority of sales executives do not excel on following up long term, but the ones that do increase their close rate exponentially.

It’s not my fault.

Believing that you have no control over a situation limits your effectiveness. If you blame others for your mistakes or if you concede helplessness in the face of rejection, this can hamper your motivation and your activity. The truth is that you can always control your own behaviour. The economy may be bad, or your quota may be set higher than you’re ready for, but you can always change your behaviour to accommodate some of the many hurdles that you may face each day. Approaching your career requires holding yourself accountable as part of a business building team. Understanding that every day will present both wins and losses, ups and downs, will be crucial to your future success.

I can talk my way into a sale.

Sales people are eloquent. We know this. But it’s possible for a sales rep to eloquently talk themselves in a circle, losing their audience completely. When we forget that selling is a profession based on communication, we can lose sight of the fact that communication requires more than one person to participate. If your goal is to develop a respectful relationship with a sales prospect, then you must realise that listening is just as important as talking. We recommend developing a list of possible questions to ask a prospect, in order to get them talking about what’s important to them.

These are just a few of the stories sales executives tell themselves each day. If you’re a sales rep or manager struggling with these self-limiting attitudes, I recommend you contact us, and we will design a program that addresses your company needs and sales behaviours, in order to tackle the underlying issues that plague our performance