Selling comes with a lot of rejection and confrontation. Many people don’t want to talk to you; others think you’re just trying to sell them more than they need. No matter how good or experienced you are, these things start to take a toll unless you have the right sales mindset.
Believe me; I didn’t always have it.
I didn’t even believe in very practical (and so necessary!) personality assessments. So I certainly didn’t think too much about things like self-improvement, personal growth, and helpful vs unhelpful mindsets.
That changed when I begrudgingly started taking a sales improvement course and began my long-time friendship with my sales coach and mentor. Over time, my sales mindset went from ‘Limited’ to ‘Abundant,’ a shift that paved the way for massive improvement and opened the door for me to help others.
Selling with a Bad Sales Mindset
Before sales-improvement training, my selling tactics included nothing more than ego, hope, and luck—the things most inexperienced or uncoached salespeople live by.
I didn’t read self-help or philosophy books or attend non-required seminars or trainings. And I certainly never sought guidance from a coach.
When I was successful, I assumed it was because I was just that good. The truth is, it had more to do with the industries in which I worked. (I worked at AT&T in the early days of iPhones. We all made a killing selling those things because everybody wanted one!)
When I wasn’t successful, I blamed it on everything but myself.
- “Corporate wants me to sell what!?”
- “My boss won’t get off my back.”
- “Nobody around here has the money for this stuff!”
- “They won’t even take my calls, so how am I supposed to close the deal?”
I sincerely believed that it was all out of my hands. Hitting quota wasn’t possible because it “wasn’t my fault.”
The need to make more money grew as I hopped from one opportunity to another. At the height of all this, I took a job in a very lucrative industry. But it was one that required excellent selling and communication skills—two things that, unbeknownst to me, I didn’t yet have.
After months of floundering and not knowing how to succeed at this job, I knew something had to change. But I was stuck. I couldn’t see that I was operating in what I now call a Limited Mindset.
Fortunately, a good friend handed me the lifeline of a new business opportunity and, more importantly, a new outlook on selling thanks to his sales coach.
A Limited Mindset Leads to Unfortunate Decisions
When you operate out of a Limited Mindset, you can’t sell with a higher purpose in mind.
That purpose might be a genuine desire to help people or a strong need to qualify prospects to find the best clients. Both are worthy aspirations for any salesperson.
But when you’re selling from a negative sales mindset, one of limitations, you’ll spend your time trying to sell to everybody.
You’re so scared about not having another opportunity that you’ll take on a client with needs that you can’t fulfill. Or one that demands things you don’t do.
Both scenarios can quickly end in a reputation-damaging loss of a client you should never have had.
Or maybe you do qualify clients, but your need to sell never stops.
- You’re pitching your family at dinners.
- You randomly list features and benefits to the guy behind you at the grocery store.
- Your DMs consist of more “I see that you… are you interested in…?” messages than “hey, how have you been?”
You’re always on and always worried about finding the next deal.
That’s not healthy or conducive to a good work/life balance.
Worse than all that, every rejection is a punch to the guts. It becomes impossible not to take every ‘no’ personally when you don’t feel like there’s another opportunity around the corner. And while a well-maintained, full pipeline helps, it’ll never be full enough if you’re stuck in a Limited Mindset.
It’s a miserable way to sell, but sadly, it’s common. Nobody teaches you how to look at these things differently. And with the constant message of “sell, sell, sell” from your bosses, they probably don’t want you to.
They don’t understand that a sales mindset of Abundance will actually help you sell better.
An Abundant Mindset Makes a Huge Difference
Confidence and optimism don’t come naturally to everybody. They’re especially tough to maintain when you’re struggling in your job.
It may sound cheesy and possibly a little new-age-y, but your mindset can significantly affect your success rate.
An Abundant Mindset will change the way you view your sales role.
You’ll be more prepared to accept a ‘no’ for what it really is—more time to find somebody who will be better qualified. Every no is also another learning experience that illuminates why others might say no or uncovers a new, important disqualifier.
Hearing ‘no’ actually makes you a better salesperson, especially if you know how to respond and ask what led to that decision. But it only makes you better if you have the right mindset around it.
A positive attitude about your sales role also allows you to disengage from it and enjoy simply being around people instead of constantly selling. No more looking for the next opportunity every time you socialize; you can just be present.
And because you feel secure knowing there will be other opportunities, you’ll be able to sell more authentically. The need to push, pull, and drag people into a closed deal goes away because you’re finally able to consider what’s best for both them and you.
The sales mindset of Abundance is essential for managers and sales leaders as well.
It allows you to appreciate the hard work of your sales team instead of how many deals they close. The quality of their conversations becomes more important than the quantity of leads they’ve moved through the sales cycle. Within reason, of course.
All of these reasons are why an abundant mindset leads to a higher motivation in sales. Because your mindset and motivation are so strongly linked, these two are the foundation you need to truly be a great salesperson.
What is Your Motivation in Sales?
Most salespeople start out being motivated by money. I mean, that’s why we work, right? You have to pay bills, and you need money to do it.
Unfortunately, closing as many deals as possible and only worrying about money makes it so much harder to do your job well.
The sales motivation that will benefit you more than any other is a genuine desire to help prospects find the best solution for them.
This viewpoint will make it easier to have more effective sales conversations because you’ll be more open to listening to their problems, asking deeper questions, and qualifying your prospects more thoroughly. Even when they say no, you’ll appreciate the chance to learn what made them unqualified and can quickly move on.
It might sound surprising, but the best salespeople are rarely motivated by money.
Shifting Your Sales Mindset to the Positive
Again, this doesn’t come naturally to everybody. The idea of having an Abundant Mindset might seem unreachable when you’re incredibly stressed and under the pressure of just trying to get by.
There’s a very logical and understandable reason for that.
Abraham Maslow released his book ‘Motivation and Personality’ in 1954. It had a massive impact on psychology then, and his theories are still taught and discussed today.
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick breakdown:
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Humans have universal needs that we must fulfill in order of priority. In the ascending shape of a pyramid, each level can only be fully reached and satisfied if the one before it is. The needs are:
Physiological — food, shelter, warmth, water
Safety — physical, emotional, financial
Social Belonging — having and maintaining secure and meaningful relationships with friends, family, romantic partners, and communities
Self-Esteem — self-confidence, belonging, recognition, respect
Transcendence (originally self-actualization) — altruism, spirituality, regard for your place in society and the world as a whole
For example, having a healthy romantic relationship is difficult if you don’t know where your next meal will come from. Or you will struggle to feel confident in yourself if you’re barely making enough to pay your bills.
Some psychologists question this theory, but it’s still a broadly accepted idea of how humans work.
So how does this apply to you? Well, it has a lot to do with mindset.
Stuck in a Lower Level
As previously mentioned, when I was younger, I was stuck. Money was tight, my roles as father and partner felt shaky and scary, and I was simply close-minded. Therefore, I was trapped in a Limited Mindset.
Then I took a job that I thought would solve my money problems and assumed that would make everything better. But I was ill-prepared for this role, and my world closed in even more. With no clue how I would make quota, everything else seemed more out of reach.
I was miles away from Maslow’s self-esteem and transcendence levels; any chance of self-improvement was almost impossible.
But when my job situation changed, my financial safety improved. It increased to the point of finally feeling safe. My other life challenges also got better. I began to realize I could do more; thus began my journey toward self-improvement.
It didn’t happen overnight, though, and it’s a constant focus. Plus, I had terrific resources in mentors, friends, coaches, and books.
For me, Maslow’s theory holds true. If you’re stuck at a lower level, achieving self-improvement, personal growth, and an Abundant Mindset is practically impossible. But you won’t feel stuck forever once you recognize where you are.
Climbing the Pyramid
Improving your situation is no small task, and I know that it’s a lot harder for some than it is for others. But it’s still worth trying, especially if your job as a salesperson is your ticket to a better life.
Try this exercise to get started:
- Sit down and look at where you are right now.
- Make a checklist of everything you need, such as your house, children, partner, and even food.
- Think about the pyramid and what you have in each section. No matter how small, write it down.
- Then, check off the things you don’t have to worry about going away. Keep it rational. We all have fears and worries, but what can you reasonably rely on?
This written practice helps you realize how much you already have.
For the things you aren’t ready to check off, what can you do to make them feel more secure?
Start forming a plan and building goals to improve these areas of your life.
Once you begin that journey, you can really dig into yourself. Find out what makes you tick, what mindsets are holding you down, and what methods you can use to start evolving.
As you climb the pyramid of personal needs, you’ll start to develop a healthier sales mindset and general outlook on life. But you still might need the assistance and knowledge that can only come from people who are further ahead than you.
Mentors, coaches, therapists, and friends can go a long way toward helping you reach your self-actualization or transcendence.
The Right Sales Mindset Puts Success Within Reach
Change doesn’t happen overnight. We all know this, but when it comes to self-improvement, it’s vital to remember.
However, through my own experience, I can tell you how much of a difference a change in mindset makes. The patience required is worth it.
I’ve learned a lot about selling, conversational skills, and psychology since that epic failure of a job almost ten years ago. But none of what I’ve learned would matter if I didn’t shift my mindset.
There’s no way I would be able to say no to unqualified clients or ask questions that might prove they don’t need me. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to develop a sales method that allows me to sell as myself without ever feeling pushy or ‘salesy.’ It’s what keeps me motivated even when I’m in a slump.
Learning skills and tactics can help you sell more, but your sales mindset and motivation is what will help those new skills stick and work.
If you’re stuck, shifting your mindset from Limited to Abundant won’t be easy. But if I can do it, I know that anybody can.