Watch Out for Twisted Thinking Part IV

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.) (You can read about #6-8 here.)

9. Labeling

Labeling is an extreme form of All-or-Nothing thinking. (Click here to read about #1, All-or-Nothing thinking.)

Labeling is when a sales representative attaches a negative label to themselves or to others.

Example: a representative makes a mistake, or fails to schedule an appointment, and then thinks “I’m a loser.”

It’s reasonable to say “I made a mistake,” since you can learn from that. Labeling is irrational, because what you do is not the same as who you are. These labels lead to anger, anxiety, frustration, and low self-esteem.

Representatives may also label others. When a prospect does not respond as they had hoped they may tell themselves, “He’s a jerk.” That makes them feel that the problem is with that prospect’s character instead of with their thinking or behavior. Changing a person’s character is a lot less likely than persuading them to change their mind on a buying decision.

This type of thinking makes the representative feel hostile and leaves little room for constructive communication, giving them nowhere to go. Asking “Why do you say that?” or “How do you know?” is a good way of helping representatives break through this barrier.

10. Personalization and blame

Representatives may hold themselves personally responsible for an occurrence that isn’t under their control. An appointment with a new prospect is cancelled because that prospect has left the company. The representative thinks, “If only I was better at prospecting, this wouldn’t happen.”

Some people think the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems and overlook ways that they might be contributing to their own problem. For example, the representative may tell herself, “The marketing department gives me lousy leads,” or “This prospect has totally unreasonable expectations.” Blame doesn’t usually work very well in making sales.

Reality checking is helpful here, too. This requires understanding why the representative feels they or someone else is to blame and helping them find another way to view the situation. Again, the questions are, “Why do you say that?” or “How do you know?”

Any type of twisted thinking will keep your team members from functioning and selling as well as they otherwise might. Your goal as a manager should be to help them reach a neutral state.

Not everyone needs to love every aspect of selling. The idea, however, is to remove the emotion from the process of prospecting. If representatives can reach an emotionally neutral place, especially in the areas where they struggle, they can function and succeed. If you can help them get there, then you will have succeeded, too.

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