Be Honest with Yourself

By Colleen Francis

Adapted from Honesty Sells (Wiley Publishing) by Colleen Francis and Steven Gaffney

Lying to yourself is one of the worst lies we can tell. First, when we lie to ourselves it affects our attitude and our ability to communicate with others. Second, acting like ourselves is more powerful than trying to act like someone else. That's why honesty is more effective than mirroring personality profiling or other strategies that seek to forge a false bond with clients.

The top 10 percent of salespeople know how to steer clear of dangerous assumptions and lies that the mediocre tell themselves in business. 90% of sales people fall prey to dangerous lies that keep them from succeeding. That's why I've itemized the 4 most lethal lies I've witnessed salespeople telling themselves. Some items on the list may seem obvious to you. And that makes them worse.

1. Treating Prospecting as Something You'll Outgrow Eventually

After hitting their targets again and again, some find it tempting to start looking at prospecting as something they don't need to do anymore. Incredibly, sales trainers often hear stories about seasoned salespeople who say they're too experienced to prospect… or that cold calling is beneath them. That's crazy! Prospecting is the lifeblood of a successful sales strategy. It's how you constantly cultivate new business opportunities and grow your client base. Without including this as a fundamental component of your regular business habits, you could be putting your career at serious risk. Everyone needs to prospect… no matter how successful they are. To be effective at prospecting, you need to have more than a system for attracting qualified buyers. You also need a sales funnel that's three times larger than what you need in sales. Stuck for ideas on where to find prospects? Check out Chapter 4: Exhibit 4.1 for 16 ideas that will keep your funnel full all year long from Honesty Sells (Visit to get your copy).

2. Believing in the Adage "Nothing Personal… It's Just Business"

Big mistake. Successful sales professionals will tell you that in business, everything is personal and further we believe that if you are serious about your career you should take it personally! People buy from people they like and trust. And that's personal! It's true. In essence, when a client chooses one salesperson over another, what they're really saying is that—other things being equal—they like one better than the other. Great sales records are built on likeability and trust. Likeability is personal. Establishing and maintaining great personal rapport is how you build trust between yourself and your clients.

3. Treating Any Prospect as if It's a Sure Thing

Remember Benjamin Franklin's sage advice—nothing is certain in this world other than death and taxes. In sales, no matter how great a particular prospect may look to you, things can change in a hurry. Even after a contract is signed, a sale can still fall through. I once saw more than $60,000 vanish into thin air in Plano when a tornado blew through the Texas headquarters of my prospect… while the contract was still being finalized by the legal team. In sales, the most volatile time is the time between when you receive a verbal go-ahead from a prospect and when the contract is received. That's when anything can happen. So count your deals only as 100 percent in your pipeline once you have a signed contract and a purchase order.
As a buyer, my husband Chris and I have had two real estate contracts fall through in the last year after they were signed, but before the closing dates. It's never over until the money is received.

4. Believing "My Success Is Unrelated to My Attitude"

Tennis pro Chris Evert was once quoted as saying:

"The thing that separates good players from great players is mental attitude. It might only make a difference of two or three points over an entire match, but how you play those key points often makes the difference between winning and losing. If the mind is strong, you can do anything you want."

Colleen's father, Ted Francis (a now retired but career sales professional), is noted as saying: "Suck it up! It's all in your head!"

Both are true.

Ensuring an honest relationship with your client means starting with yourself and your own attitude.
All top-ranked salespeople share this point of view. If you ask them—as we have, repeatedly—what they do that makes them so successful, they'll answer: "It's my attitude!" Successful salespeople love what they do. They love the companies they work for, the products and services they sell, and the clients they serve. They also take personal responsibility for ensuring that all of these points remain true. By our measure, they live by four simple rules for being honest with themselves:

Nobody Can Choose Your Attitude for You

If you're waiting for someone else to come along and motivate you, you will wait forever. Never let others take control of your thoughts. Only you can develop a better attitude for yourself. In trying times, the only way to improve your circumstances is by adopting a positive outlook. No matter what extraordinary sales techniques you learn during your career, these will fail you if you don't believe in yourself, your products, and your market.

The People Around You Are a Direct Mirror of Your Attitude

Attitude is contagious. It's amazing how individuals who consistently display a poor attitude are the same people who expect their family, coworkers, friends, or employees to remain upbeat. Remember: You become who you hang out with. Think of it as the law of human magnetism.

Maintaining a Good Attitude Is Easier than Regaining One that's Lost

If you already have a good attitude, great! Do everything you can to maintain it. Read positive books and listen to motivational tapes. Stay away from the news first thing in the morning and get rid of people in your life who are bringing you down. Sure, it's not always easy, but you will thank us for this advice when you are celebrating as the top sales rep in your company next year.

On the other hand, if you have difficulty expecting the best from yourself and others, don't give up. Remember item number one on this list—only you can choose your attitude, so it's up to you to change it.

To achieve your maximum potential, you must first be honest with yourself. Prove your integrity with your words and actions. Find time to prospect every day. Remember that all business is personal. Take it personally so you improve faster.  Don't treat any prospect as if it's a sure thing. Nothing's certain. And absolutely everyday work on your attitude. It absolutely affects your sales results.

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Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions ( Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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