Sales Skills

by Jeremy Cassell and Tom Bird

How important are your beliefs?

What if you could become consciously aware of the beliefs that hold you back and do something about them?

Your beliefs underpin a lot of your actions in selling, either consciously or unconsciously. Quite simply, if you believe that something is possible for you, then you are likely to attempt it and achieve the result that you want. If you do not feel it is possible, then you may simply avoid taking any action or unconsciously sabotage the result by thinking the worst and acting as if that is likely to happen!

Most of you have probably heard of Roger Bannister. He was a 25-year-old British medical student when he became the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes. His time was 3:59.4, achieved at the Iffley Road track in Oxford and watched by about 3,000 spectators. Before he broke the four-minute barrier, many people believed this was impossible. Indeed some doctors asserted that it was a medical impossibility! Yet within six weeks John Landy of Australia had run 3:58.0 and within 12 months, some 15 people broke the same ‘barrier’. Roger helped people change their belief around what was possible.

Beliefs are not the truth; they are just true for us as individuals. Beliefs are changed as we recognize that we hold a belief and choose to question or change the belief.

As part of the research into our book, Brilliant Selling, we conducted a survey completed by over 150 top salespeople in the UK. We discovered from the responses that outstanding salespeople hold very strong beliefs about themselves and the nature of the relationships they have with their services/products and customers.

Below are five important examples of strong beliefs that were highlighted by responders.

  • 91 per cent believe that they and the customer have equal footing in the commercial relationship.

Comment: many salespeople believe that the customer/prospect is on a pedestal and has far more leverage that the salesperson. Often, this means the latter will come across as desperate and accommodate whatever the customer wants instead of negotiating in a collaborative way.

  • 76 per cent believe the sale starts right at the beginning of the sales cycle and 52 per cent believe the sale never ends.

Comment: you are always selling. If you get complacent, you risk losing customers. You sell not just to the decision maker(s), but to all people within the business who are connected with your customer. Once you have the first order, you need to ensure that the sale progresses smoothly. Then you are on the hunt for the next opportunity.

  • 69 per cent believe that problem solving is one of their core strengths.

Comment: customers are in front of you because they have a problem/issue they need to resolve. You are there to act as a catalyst to help solve the problem with minimum fuss and often with a fair degree of creativity.

  • 67 per cent believe that they are outstanding at relationship building.

Comment: it’s a foundation of all selling. Knowledge is never enough – the old adage that people buy people (often like themselves) is still true!

  • 64 per cent believe attitude in selling was more important than skill.

Comment: start with a great attitude and things tend to go your way!

  1. Write down as many beliefs around sales and selling as you can think of that you hold right now.
  2. Think about the beliefs that you think the most successful salesperson you know holds.
  3. Notice what the differences are, if any. What beliefs do you hold about sales and selling that are holding you back? Make a list of these.
  4. What would happen if you can decide to change these limiting beliefs?