Partners in Performance Blog

Self-Sabotage and the Sales Process: Jim’s Story


Limiting Assumptions- Self-Sabotage and the Sales Process

As service professionals, one of the ways we help our clients create breakthroughs is to raise their awareness of the assumptions and beliefs that sabotage their results and limit their potential. Many times, sales people aren’t even aware of their own assumptions about selling, or about their client’s needs.

In my coaching work, this is one of the first things I address with my clients. What are you assuming to be true, without examining it in light of the current situation and/or client? Even the smartest, most brilliant sales professionals are amazed at the ways in which they actually undermine their own success.

With the Intentional Selling™ program, we begin by examining these limiting assumptions and beliefs. I ask you to take a hard look at what your underlying assumptions are and the impact on your behaviour.

If we are unaware of our limiting assumptions and their implications, we will likely continue to self-sabotage success in developing business.

Through my Intentional Selling™ coaching process, clients self-identify their limiting assumptions and then, for each assumption, we explore the impact on behaviour. Most limiting assumptions are based on faulty thinking or logical fallacies. Some examples are illustrated below.

Limiting Assumption Impact on Behaviour
Selling is not appropriate for a professional person Don’t book appointments to create opportunities Don’t ask for new business in meetings
Process takes a long time Feel too defeated, so don’t do anything
I don’t want to impose on people Don’t develop proactive strategies
I will get rejected Don’t do the required activity
Behaviour is tentative and not confident
Don’t speak with passion and enthusiasm

Client Example: Jim’s Story

Jim Bentley (name changed) is a well respected, seasoned sales professional with solid expertise in the financial services industry. He has long standing clients, with whom he enjoys excellent relationships. He is one of the top sales producers for his company.

Jim participated in the Intentional Selling™ program as part of a company-wide initiative. When he explored his assumptions, he became aware of the following beliefs:

  • Since he was already successful, he was open to a refresh but assumed he would not learn anything new.
  • He believed he already knew his clients and their needs, so honing his questioning skills would yield little added value.
  • He believed his relationships with his clients, along with periodic product updates, golf treats, and lunches were enough to create sales.

With his record of success and strong relationships with his clients, it was difficult for Jim to see a need to change anything in his selling processes. Nevertheless, he listened and participated in the program without any clear plan to do anything differently.

Reframing Thoughts

Awareness precedes choice. When we are aware of assumptions that might limit us, we have the ability to shift our thinking to a more resourceful place by reframing our thinking.

Here are some examples of reframing that some of my coaching clients have created:

Limiting Assumption Reframes – Resourceful ‘self-talk’
Selling is not appropriate for professionals Intentional Selling™ is consistent with consulting philosophy; learning the skills is an important step in my business success.”
The sales process takes a long time “Managing the process will reap rewards in the end.”“What would I need to learn or do differently to shorten the time?”“What if it doesn’t take a long time?”
I don’t want to impose on people “The approach I use is one of exploring needs and the potential fit. People will get value from my questions and will be grateful even if we mutually decide that the fit is not right.”
I will get rejected “When I explore the needs of my prospective clients, we will determine if there is a fit. It is possible there will not be a fit and that is OK. It doesn’t mean they are rejecting me personally.”

Intentional Selling™ in Action: Jim’s Story

Jim had the opportunity to meet a long standing client for lunch the day after he completed the Intentional Selling™ workshop. Afterwards, he called me (and his VP) to report on what happened:

After friendly rapport building and catching up, he shifted the focus of the lunch meeting. He used the Engage structure to open the meeting, and set the stage for strategic questioning (“Discovery Dialogue”). Strategic questioning was something he had not done for a long while because he assumed he already knew the client and her needs. (To learn more about these Intentional Selling processes, here’s a PDF fact sheet.)

He reported that he was “astonished” with what followed and what he learned. As he was asking questions and gathering information, he resisted the temptation to jump in with solutions. He forced himself to dig deeper and ask the “question underneath the question.”

He kept in mind this phrase from his selling workshop: “The quality of the question determines the quality of the answer.”

Jim learned all kinds of things about his client and her business which both amazed and surprised him. His client gained new awareness and insights about her business and she told Jim he created a lot of value for her just with the questions he asked her.

After the meeting, she called Jim and thanked him again for a very productive meeting and told him it was the best meeting she had ever had.

As a result of the meeting, Jim came up with some very creative and big solutions that were spot on and she was on board! That meeting took their relationship to an even stronger level.

Jim attributed the successful meeting to his intention to establish focus and clarity about the meeting purpose and to ask strategic “Discovery” questions in a new and structured way.

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences with asking quality questions that turn around your sales results. I’d love to hear from you here, just leave your comments here.


This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on July 22, 2011 in Intentional Selling™, Sales Process, Success Mindset. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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