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
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 www.HonestySells.com 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
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
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
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.