President, Lefkoe Institute
March 07, 2011

On any given day thousands of salespeople are being trained to be more effective. They are taught how to listen to their customers, how to handle objections, how to be more effective at cold calling, how to handle charging more money than competitors for similar products and services, and how to close. Some of these “skill” courses are effective. Unfortunately, however, far too often the courses do not improve sales at all. Why?

The answer is simple: Virtually none of these courses help the salespeople eliminate the beliefs that prevent them from being more effective.

Let me give you a few examples.

No matter what skills or experience a salesperson might have, if he has the belief, What makes me good enough are my accomplishments, his life will be run by what he is able to accomplish and showing others his accomplishments. Such a person is likely to be afraid to take on anything that he is not positive will result in an accomplishment he can brag about. Since sales calls usually have a significant amount of risk in them, someone with this belief might resist making sales calls.

No matter what skills or experience a salesperson might have, if she has the belief, The only way to make a sale is to have the lowest price, she will resist selling a product that has a higher price even if it has more value than a competitor’s. I have had many executives tell me that they hear the words of this belief from their salespeople frequently as an excuse for not making sales. When the executives provided their salespeople with a lot of information about the company’s products and services and why they were worth much more than what their competitors were offering, their salespeople usually responded, “Yes, but it’s almost impossible to make a sale when we have a higher price.”

Want more ways to improve employee performance? Check these out:

No matter what skills or experience a salesperson might have, if he or she has a few negative self-esteem beliefs, such as I’m not good enough, I’m not capable or competent, or I’m powerless, they will make him or her doubt their ability and lower self-confidence. As a result the salesperson is unlikely to do all that he is potentially capable of. And he is likely to be perceived as unsure of himself by potential customers.

No matter what skills or experience a salesperson might have, if she has the belief, What makes me good enough is having people think well of me, she will be afraid of rejection and will have a difficult time making cold calls. That belief leads to people being afraid to do anything that might result in people not thinking well of them and usually doing only those things that people are sure to like. Whenever you call people you don’t know, there is always the possibility the call might make them angry and they may hang up on you. For someone with this belief, that would be very scary.

No matter what skills or experience a salesperson might have, if he has the belief, Mistakes and failure are bad, he will be afraid to try anything new or different for fear of making a mistake or failing. If the tried and true are sufficient, salespeople with this belief might produce satisfactory results, but if innovative approaches to making sales is required, that will be virtually impossible for salespeople with this belief.

Other personal and professional beliefs can sabotage salespeople in other ways. So the moral of this story is: In addition to providing skills training for your salespeople, make sure you also help them get rid of any limiting beliefs.

In an earlier post — Do You Have a Hard Time Making Decisions? — I provided the steps to a process you can use to help people eliminate simple beliefs, like the ones I listed above, that usually impair salespeople.

Try the process if salespeople in your company are not using all the skills and tools they possess, and seem to be exhibiting the behavior I described above. Then tell me and your fellow readers about the results you achieve. You’ll be surprised at how eliminating a few beliefs can improve sales results.