Hero image of Brian McCauley, ProSales columnist

As children most of us were consistently told “Don’t do that” by our parents. Don’t touch that, you can’t do that, etc. Parents were trying to keep us safe and out of trouble and many of us probably say similar things to our children all the time. Experts on the subject have asserted that this negative messaging can follow us through our adult lives impacting how we see ourselves. It’s that internal voice that tells us we can’t do that, we’re not smart enough, talented enough, or strong enough. If you’re not careful, that negative internal voice can hurt your sales performance. “I won’t get that job,” or “That builder will never buy from me” may be things your inner voice has told you in the past. Here are two parts of your sales cycle where this negative voice could spell trouble.

Prospecting: There were many negative effects in our industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one in particular is starting to rear its ugly head today and that is the renewed importance of prospecting for new business. During Covid, many of you became order takers…whoever could get product to the market more than likely got the sale. Everybody was just trying to keep their head above water, managing the calls coming in, and fighting fires caused by supply chain issues. During this time, most salespeople got away from prospecting for new business and that can be a tough habit to get back in to once you’ve stopped for a period of time. Don’t let that negative inner voice stop you from making a phone call to a prospect or stopping by a jobsite to check out who is doing the work. You are a good enough salesperson, your products are good enough, and your service is good enough. Make the call.

Price Pressure: It does not take much silence on a buyer’s part after a seller has given them a price for negative internal dialogue to run rampant. The salesperson begins telling themselves what they imagine the buyer is saying…That’s too much money, is that person crazy, I can get a similar product much cheaper someplace else. The salesperson begins thinking about calling the buyer back and asking how the price looks, or worse, offering a discount to be more competitive. I consider myself to be a pretty good salesperson—not great, but pretty good—and I recently had my internal voice screaming at me. I had given somebody a price for speaking services, which was at a higher price than what was previously discussed. The reason the price was higher was valid, but that did not stop me from second guessing myself. After 24 hours with no response, I reached out again, asking if they had a chance to view the proposal. Still no response!! Now, it’s been three to four days of silence and my negative inner voice is booming: “Now you’ve done it, you big dummy. They have gone in another direction and you missed this opportunity!!”

It got so bad, I even considered reaching back out and suggesting if my price did not fit into their budget, perhaps there may be some flexibility on my part. Fortunately, a more reasonable part of my brain stepped in saying there could be a myriad of reasons why I had not gotten a response, and with no communication from them, I would just be negotiating against myself, which is a losing proposition. So, I waited…and I would like to say patiently waited, but that would not be true. My negative inner voice continued to yell at me. Finally, after a few more days, I received a response “Sorry, been out of the office for a few days. The proposal is fine, and we want to move forward.”

Don’t let your negative inner voice beat you down and force you to make assumptions that can negatively impact you. Remember the Saturday Night Live skits from the early 90’s titled Daily Affirmations w/Stuart Smalley where he famously said, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Happy Selling!!