7 Ways to Cut Loose from Old Sales Thinking

Sooner or later, we all backslide into old ways of thinking about selling that lead us down the wrong path with potential clients.

A few weeks ago, I had a phone conversation with Julie, who has been struggling with the old-style selling methods that her manager insists are the only way to sell their company’s technology solution.

Regardless of what product or service you’re selling, you should be able to relate to her dilemma.

Outdated sales skills fail to address the core issue of how we think about selling and unless we get to that core and change it once and for all, we’ll go on struggling with the same counterproductive sales behaviors.

And we’ll continue believing that we’re always just one new sales technique away from the breakthrough we’re looking for.

New Thinking = New Results

Maybe it’s time to take a different approach. Maybe we need to analyze our thinking and identify why we’re not making more sales.

Take a look at the table below and think about your current selling mindset.

How would your selling behaviors change if you changed your sales thinking?

Old Sales MindsetNew Sales Mindset
Always start out with a strong sales pitch.Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation.
Your goal is always to close the sale.Your goal is always to discover whether you and your prospect are a good fit.
When you lose a sale, it’s usually at the end of the sales process.When you lose a sale, it’s usually at the beginning of the sales process.
Rejection is a normal part of selling, so get used to it.Hidden sales pressure causes rejection. Eliminate sales pressure, and you’ll never experience rejection.
Keep chasing prospects until you get a yes or no.Never chase prospects. Instead, get to the truth of whether there’s a fit or not.
When prospects offer objections, challenge and/or counter them.When prospects offer objections, validate them and reopen the conversation.
If prospects challenge the value of your product or service, defend yourself and
explain its value.
Never defend yourself or what you have to offer. This only creates more sales pressure.

Let’s take a closer look at these concepts so you can begin to open up your current sales thinking and become more effective in your selling efforts.

1. Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation.

When you call someone, never start out with a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer.

Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. For example, you might say, “I’m just calling to see if you are open to some different ideas related to preventing downtime across your computer network?”

Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase. Instead, you’re addressing a problem that, based on your experience in your field, you believe they might be having. (If you don’t know what problems your product or service solves, do a little research by asking your current customers why they purchased your solution.)

2. Your goal is always to discover whether you and your prospect are a good fit.

If you let go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment, you’ll discover that you don’t have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward.

By simply focusing your conversation on problems that you can help prospects solve, and by not jumping the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll discover that prospects will give you the direction you need.

3. When you lose a sale, it’s usually at the beginning of the sales process.

If you think you’re losing sales due to mistakes you make at the end of the process, review how you began the relationship. Did you start with a pitch?

Did you use traditional sales language (“We have a solution that you really need” or “Others in your industry have bought our solution, you should consider it as well”)?

Traditional sales language leads prospects to label you with the negative stereotype of “salesperson.” This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you with trust or to have an honest, open conversation about problems they’re trying to solve and how you might be able to help them…