There was a time not so very long ago when I was a drastically different person. Self-improvement was a concept that didn’t factor into almost any area of my life.
- Reading books on self-improvement seemed useless.
- Listening to podcasts and audiobooks instead of music sounded incredibly dull.
- And taking a regular sales class or going to seminars was something I did not need to do and seemed like a colossal waste of time and money that I didn’t have.
The current version of me would have irritated 2011 me to no end. And honestly, I thought most of that stuff was woo-woo nonsense. If not nonsense, I certainly didn’t believe that I needed it.
So when a good friend said that I should meet his sales coach, I said no thanks and laughed—a lot. Deep down, though, my ego was bruised.
When it came to sales, I had an enormous ego with no real reason to have it. In the past, I had done okay. I wasn’t bringing home six figures or anything, but I thought I was good enough. And when the sales weren’t there, I always blamed it on my company or manager, industry, or the customers.
I was stuck in a Limitation Mindset. Really stuck for a very long time.
After years of contemplation and evolution in my thinking, I’ve found two primary mindsets; one of limitation and one of abundance. These mindsets can show up anywhere, but since sales is both my business and my passion, that is what I’m focusing on here.
The Limitation Mindset in Selling
When you have an outlook of limitations in a sales role, it means that you don’t believe that there is enough business out there. That the opportunities for you to sell are limited.
When you feel this way, it can lead you to feel like you always have to be on and selling all the time. Everyone is a prospect because you have to take advantage of every opportunity you can find to sell.
And if everyone is always a possible prospect, you won’t take the time to weed out bad leads. There is a self-imposed pressure to make a bad deal work or keep a problematic client. But when a prospect isn’t a good fit, whatever the reason, they can be a considerable time and/or money waster.
It also means that every “no” you get during the workday is heavier. If you think there aren’t enough opportunities out there, then each no will feel like a ton of bricks. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that you should always ‘go for the no.’ How are you ever able to do that in a sales conversation when you think you can’t risk actually getting a no?
The answer is you won’t. And it allows Hope to be an option.
‘Hope’ is a terrible sales technique.
- Hoping for more clients
- Hoping people will change their minds and come back
- Hoping their budget will suddenly expand
When you use hope as your sales tactic, you can lie to both yourself and your boss about your pipeline and what you can produce.
As a business owner or sales leader, things get even stickier.
When you run your company with a Limitation Mindset, you’re probably telling your sales team something like, “always go for every sale and make it work.” They have to work even harder to keep deals going that they should never have had in the first place. Or they work under constant pressure that their numbers will never be high enough.
This ‘just get it done’ policy risks damaging your team’s relationships and leading them to burnout, two things that usually create a high turnover. And nobody wants that.
Your leadership style is very dependent on your mindset. If you are in the limitation camp, you tend to organize everything around you. You don’t share tips and tricks with your team because you want them to need you. You won’t invest in their improvement because that might mean they will leave for some other job, and you can’t have that. And you’ll probably always feel like they aren’t doing “enough.”
What this mindset really boils down to is fear and a lack of confidence. Fear of not having enough, fear of failure.
And fear is what holds us back.
The Abundance Mindset in Selling
The abundance mindset, obviously, goes the other way.
For leaders/managers, you invest in your team and share everything you can with them. When you’re not concerned about losing people all the time, your only goal is for each one of them to be their best.
And even if someone does leave, you trust that it’s because it’s in their best interest. You’ll wish your former team member well and offer any help for their future because you’ve invested in them. Their success is your success! And you know that you will be able to find another successful rock star quickly.
As a salesperson, an abundance mindset takes SO MUCH pressure off of your constantly overworked selling brain.
Every conversation can be an actual conversation where you genuinely want to see the best for your prospect, even if the best is not you.
Every time you hear a no, you can use it as a learning experience. Instead of hanging up or walking away, continue the conversation with gratitude for your prospect’s time and ask why they are going in a different direction. These “no’s” may be able to highlight something you’re missing in your sales process.
An Abundance Mindset will even show up in how you speak and think. I wrote about this in an earlier blog post, but basically, you will approach everything from a more positive perspective.
And every night when you go to sleep, you can rest easy because tomorrow is another day with more opportunities. You don’t have to stress eternally, you don’t have to sell to everyone (your family and friends will appreciate that one!), and you don’t have to try to find more business. Constantly.
You can relax.
So how do you change your mindset? Well, change is never easy, right?
Changing Your Mindset
In 1954, the book ‘Motivation and Personality,’ written by Abraham Maslow, was released. It had a significant impact on the psychological community! And the theories in it are still taught and talked about today.
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the quick breakdown:
Humans have a hierarchy of needs, and they are more or less universal. In the ascending shape of a pyramid, each need 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 friendships, family, romantic partners
- Self-Esteem — self-confidence, belonging, recognition, respect
- Transcendence (originally self-actualization, he later changed it) — altruism, spirituality, regard for your place in society and the world as a whole
For example, it is challenging to have a meaningful relationship if you do not know where you are getting your next meal.
And while many psychologists question the scientific ideas behind this theory, it’s still a broadly socially accepted idea of how humans work.
So why am I talking about Maslow’s theory here?
Well, it has a lot to do with mindset.
I already said that when I was younger, less experienced, and less open to personal improvement, that I was stuck. What I mean is that I was squarely stuck at the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. While my physiological needs were met, I was still struggling with financial safety and social belonging.
My job was difficult. I wasn’t getting as many clients as I needed to make the kind of money that would make me comfortable. And my new role as a father was terrifying. These fears forced me to focus all my attention on keeping the lights on and not messing up with my daughter.
I was so far away from the self-esteem and transcendence levels that it makes complete sense that I thought that improvement was ridiculous. I was directing energy in other ways.
But then my job situation changed, and with it, my financial safety improved. It increased to the point of finally feeling safe. And the dad thing kind of worked itself out with time and patience. That’s when I was finally able to see that there were areas in myself that I could improve.
Thus began my journey towards self-improvement.
And now that’s stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
I also started to think more about culture, why people do the things they do, and how self-esteem plays such a massive part. What I came to realize is that when you’re stuck in one of the lower three levels, it’s almost impossible to have an Abundant Mindset. And it makes sense. When you don’t feel secure in your daily living, safety, or social needs, how could you not have a Limitation Mindset?
Of course, that means that just changing your mindset isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight.
Sit down, look at where you are right now. Make a checklist of all the essential things to you, and then check off the things that you don’t have to worry about going away. For the things that you are worried about, what can you do to make them feel more secure?
Once you know what to improve and begin that journey, you can really dig into yourself. What makes you tick, what mindsets are holding you down, and what methods you can use to start evolving.
The self-help industry is enormous, and finding a good start can be quite a task in itself. For me, I was lucky enough to have people in my life that I looked up to, people who were where I wanted to be. So I was able to ask them what helped them find the path they were on. And eventually, I found mine.
And you have to find yours in your way. But no matter how you get there, you’ll be amazed at how much a more positive, abundant mindset will improve every aspect of your life, including your sales.