85% of salespeople have self-limiting beliefs that hurt their sales effectiveness. 85%! Huge!

And one of the most common Sales Self-Limiting Beliefs we see in sellers is the belief that Prospects Are Honest. The number actually went up one percentage point since I last reviewed the data in October 2019.

You probably have heard the old adage, “How do you know a prospect is lying? Their lips are moving!” LOL

All Kidding Aside

Most prospects are not deliberately being dishonest with sellers. They are telling little-white-lies such as.

“I need to think it over.”

“Now just isn’t a good time. Can you check back with me in a couple of months?”

“I have to talk to my business partner (or somebody).”

And the list goes on.

Your salespeople might even suggest, “Well, sometimes prospects actually do need to do these things.” And they would be right…sometimes.

Face it, Salespeople Are Usually Optimists

But the best salespeople, those that close more business, more efficiently, are more skeptical. They qualify FULLY. They ask hard-hitting questions to get to the truth. They don’t take what the prospect says at face value. They refuse to waste their time with prospects who try to stall them or put them off with vague excuses. Unfortunately, the percentage of salespeople who can do all this effectively, naturally, and with ease, is small.

So, what about the rest of the selling population? What do we do about them? Those salespeople that want to believe the prospect is being honest. Those that would choose to follow up, and follow up, and follow up again rather than disqualifying the prospect, or that spend way too much time with the wrong prospects hoping and praying they become clients. Those that are missing out on real live opportunities that could turn into business. What about them?

It isn’t easy but changing someone’s self-limiting beliefs can absolutely be accomplished successfully. We know. We help teams of people all the time get out of their own head and into the heart (and the wallet) of the prospect.

Three Quick Tips on How to Change Your Salespeople

Diagnose the Problem: If you ever hear a salesperson speak about how much the prospect “loved us,” press for details about what happens next. If their answer is vague or one-sided (meaning the seller is supposed to check back in a couple of weeks or some such thing with no specifics agreed to from the prospect) then the seller has become a victim to believing what he or she wants to believe.

Reframe the Belief “Prospects are Honest:” If a salesperson believes this then they will tend to accept whatever the prospect says at face value. Not probing, not digging, not DISQUALIFYING, even when the prospect says, “not now.” Therefore, we must help the salesperson to think differently if we want their actions to be different.

Rather than “Prospects are Honest.” Reframe the thinking to be “Prospects Don’t Intentionally Lie (but they sometimes don’t tell the truth so as not to hurt my feelings).” This leads salespeople to change their thinking and actions to: “Because prospects might not be completely forthcoming, I must probe and dig to get to the truth, even if it means they are no longer a prospect.” They should reaffirm this belief with: “Because I will more efficiently disqualify prospects who waste my time, I can focus on higher-quality prospects so I can close more business.”

Prepare, Practice, Post-Mortem: Those afflicted with the Prospects are Honest belief must prepare for every sales conversation thinking, “What will I say if they say XYZ?” Sellers must then practice, saying out loud what they will actually answer when faced with these put-off lines. Examples could be:

“Happy to wait a couple of weeks (months) but help me understand what is going to change between now and then.”

“Okay great. Let’s get something on the calendar now so I don’t fail to reconnect with you.”

“Sometimes when prospective clients want to wait, they are just being kind and don’t want to hurt my feelings, but they aren’t really interested. Are you just being nice to me?”

Finally, conduct post-mortems on opportunities and conversations. As a manager, it is part of your job to ask salespeople to learn from their experiences. It is critically important for the seller’s growth. It is always a learning experience to debrief sales calls, but it is especially important to review opportunities that are lost and to be completely honest about why.

Source: Data from Objective Management Group on 611,574 salespeople