Watch Out for Twisted Thinking Part III

Are you wondering what’s keeping your sales team from being as successful as you’d like them to be? It could be that they suffer from Twisted Thinking…

This article concludes the types of Twisted Thinking that affect salespeople. All are from The Feeling Good Handbook by Dr. David Burns with my paraphrases and sales-related illustrations.

In The Feeling Good Handbook Dr. Burns lists “10 Forms of Twisted Thinking” that occur when people are depressed. My years of training and coaching sales professionals have made it clear that people who are not depressed can fall into these twisted ways of thinking too and many, many sales professionals, unfortunately, employ “‘twisted thinking” when it comes to prospecting.

If your team members are caught in any of these twisted forms of thinking, it will negatively impact their ability to successfully pursue prospects. These types of twisted thinking affect a sales representative’s ability to handle rejection, maintain a positive attitude, learn new skills, solve problems and, bottom line, successfully set up a first appointment.

You can judge for yourself. The following list is #9 and #10 in the 10 types of “Twisted Thinking.” (You can read about #1-3 here.) (You can read about #4-5 here.) 

6. Magnification

Magnification means exaggerating the importance of your problems and shortcomings, and minimizing the importance of the desirable qualities.

In a sales representative, this takes the form of over-estimating the flaws in the company, product, or service, and under-estimating the importance of the desirable qualities of the company, product, or service.

An example of this would be representatives who believe they cannot successfully sell until every issue or challenge with a product or service is totally eliminated.

In these types of situations, knowing what the company is doing to overcome any problems and fully understanding the value that the company represents help sales representatives avoid magnification.

Another tactic for overcoming this kind of thinking is to ask the representative what is the worst that can happen? Play this out to the extreme. Frequently once someone realizes that the worst case is not really so bad, they are able to move forward.

7. Emotional reasoning

This is when someone assumes that their negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are. For many sales representatives, the thinking goes like this: “I am uncomfortable making cold calls,” therefore “People do not like cold calls,” therefore “prospecting does not work.”

With Emotional Reasoning it is imperative to get to the heart of the negative emotions. If a representative is starting at “I am uncomfortable making cold calls,” the only way to change this is to help that representative overcome whatever discomfort stands in the way of them moving forward.

Here, the magic formula is simple: skills training, good processes, organization, and lots of practice.

8. “Should” statements

Representatives tell themselves that things should be the way they hope or want them to be. They’ll say, “I should have made that sale.” “Must”, “ought” and “have to” are similar problems: “I must make that sale,” “I ought to have made that sale,” “I have to make that sale.”

These types of statements that representatives direct against themselves lead to guilt and frustration. Directed against other people, they also can create anger and frustration. An example of this would be a representative thinking, “My prospect should call me back,” or “My prospect ought to call me back.”

As with overgeneralization, the key to helping a representative overcome “Should” statements is to identify this problematic thinking and then challenge them to eliminate the words “should,” “must,” “ought” and “has to” from their vocabulary.

There are 2 more types of “Twisted Thinking.” Stay tuned for future articles.

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