Understanding the 5 Hidden Weaknesses in Salespeople, Part V

By Alex Bartholomaus

Although many sales goals are very attainable, a lot of sales reps have no chance of hitting them … because of themselves. Unknowingly, these salespeople have collected many self-limiting beliefs along their career that will continue to plague them in the future.

These beliefs or personal records can be addressed with the proper management and coaching, but it takes time and you need to know how to identify the self-limiting belief. In a series of posts, I have discussed the five major hidden weaknesses that can neutralize a sales professional’s strengths and training all at once.

In analyzing top-performing sales people, they only have a couple of self-limiting beliefs. What became evident was a direct correlation between performance and the number of self-limiting beliefs. Some of these beliefs were things like:

  • “I don’t like to cold call.”
  • “My prospects have to like me to buy from me.”
  • “I must educate the prospect.”
  • “Prospects that think it over will eventually buy from me.”
  • “It’s not okay to challenge a prospect.”

Identifying a Self-Limiting Belief

The first step in reducing self-limiting beliefs is to identify them. A sales manager can identify them once they see a pattern of someone always making excuses.

In our last post, we talked about controlling emotions in the sales process. Many excuses are built around that. Sales managers should listen for excuses — particularly those made before the sales or call is even made! Good sales managers take the appropriate time to pre-plan calls and prepare their salespeople to perform at their best. In those sessions, when they hear excuses, they need to take them more seriously. In many instances they need to understand the belief at the core of the excuse. That is where the self-limiting belief resides.

Another opportunity to identify these self-limiting beliefs is in the post call-debrief. It takes a lot of questions from the sales manager to go over the call and review each step and decisions taken by the salesperson. Often, bad decisions are driven by the self-limiting belief. If a sales manager doesn’t take the time to debrief, it will be difficult to determine what caused the lack of success.

How Do You Reduce These Beliefs?

After identifying the self-limiting belief, a sales manager has to use the personal goals of the salesperson to provide the leverage necessary to overcome the self-limiting belief.

These beliefs cause people to move farther from the goal, not closer. The recognition of the effect that the self-limiting belief is having on the salesperson and the pursuit of his or her goal is the first step toward reducing the beliefs.

The next step is replacing the belief with something that will help the salesperson attain his or her goals. For example, some salespeople struggle with the need to always educate the prospect. Sales managers must help the salesperson realize that different people require different amounts of information. Then you can modify the belief into, “I will educate my prospects based on their requirements to make a decision.”

In case you’re dismissing this as logic, realize that isn’t always the case in sales and for the people in that profession. Many salespeople who love the product they sell suffer from this. It’s due to their passion for the product and their love to educate people about their passion. In the end, it isn’t about the salesperson — it’s about the prospect and their needs.

Time and perseverance are important requirements in this process, and sales leaders have to be patient in the process of reducing self-limiting beliefs. Sales managers have to persevere as it can easily take two to four weeks of consistent coaching before a self-limiting belief has been eliminated or modified into something more positive.

Read more of Vistage’s “5 Hidden Weaknesses in Salespeople” series by Alex P. Bartholomaus:

  • Part 1: The Need to Be Liked
  • Part 2: Money Issues
  • Part 3: The “Think It Overs”
  • Part 4: Emotional Control
  • Part 5: Self-Limiting Beliefs

Alex P. Bartholomaus is managing partner at People Stretch Solutions and works to help small to mid-sized companies drive growth and profits. He combines a non-traditional approach of psychology, behavioral science and emotional intelligence to help sales forces and leadership teams perform at higher levels.
Originally published: Jan 6, 2012

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