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Sales Psychology: Are your beliefs sabotaging your selling?

Welcome to episode two: Attack of the Clones of my sales psychology series. In the last post, I outlined the three keys to sales success – today, I’m breaking down the fourth, wild-card key.

That’s right. If you want rockstar sales results, it’s time to look into the mirror – at you, your thinking and the impact it has on your business’s performance.

Small head’s up: for some people, this is gonna be a very confrontational post.

Beliefs – The big guns of human psychology


Most people under estimate the power of their beliefs. If you stop and think about the impact of beliefs on our lives, you’ll quickly see why beliefs are critical for selling and pretty much everything else too.

Beliefs form a fundamental part of our psychological make up and are the building blocks of our personality. Our beliefs dictate how we see the world and therefor, every single decision we make while interacting with our world.

Beliefs start and end wars. Beliefs make and break relationships. They sell Ferraris and raise money for charities. Beliefs affect absolutely every level of consumer behavior.

If you’re reeling from the big-picture-ness of it all, I understand. Let’s cut to the chase, keep it real and pin down the elusive “point”.

Do you think your beliefs could be affecting your sales performance?


As “The Shrink for Entrepreneurs” my number one, day-in-day-out job is helping people overcome the mental mess that results in crippling self sabotage.

Deep at the heart of that psychological tangle, past the psychosomatic symptoms of low energy, beyond the lies of unconscious (but deliberate) distraction… are our beliefs.

Our beliefs are the core of self sabotage. When we have an incongruence in our beliefs, our unconscious will work hard to sabotage any conscious effort we make. This sabotage is especially easy to observe in sales people.

Hitting the phone to make cold calls will be hard. Dealing with email inquiries will seem a chore. A busy day of meetings will be dreaded. If that sounds like you, something just isn’t right.

How do I know this? Not because I’ve studied the science of beliefs in some dusty textbook. Although I have done that, this I know because I’ve modeled the psychology of successful sales people and discovered something unique.

Analysis of sales rockstar psychology reveals something most struggling sales people do not have: Rock solid belief. Specifically, rock solid belief in the following areas:

  1. Belief in the industry
  2. Belief in the company
  3. Belief in the product itself

What do I mean by belief? Not religious beliefs, by any means. I mean belief, for example, that a need for the industry exists – preferably a pressing and critical need.

The other day I met a business development manager for a energy company. After chatting for a bit, he let this belief slip out “I think the whole industry should be nationalized… to be honest.”

You won’t be surprised to hear that his sales performance wasn’t outstanding.

A successful sales person must also have a firm belief that “the company” (be it theirs or their boss’s) can deliver on the promises it makes. Even better, they believe in what the company stands for. They believe in what it’s all about.

When it comes to product, if you want to be able to consistently sit down in front of prospects and claim “This is the very best widget!” then you better believe it! If you belief, even deep down, that the product you’re pitching lacks integrity… you’ll pay the price.

A rock solid belief in all three areas is an absolute must for sales success.

If you’re lacking belief in just one area, sure, you may still be able to make sales. A recent post of mine on Persuasion techniques (and subsequent comments) discussed the surprising effectiveness of telling lies. That’ll always work.

What won’t work is your enthusiasm. Each day selling will start to feel longer and longer. You’ll return home from the grindstone feeling icky, unfulfilled and unrewarded.

“But wait! None of this applies to me!”


Picture me grinning like the Cheshire Cat. That’s exactly what I was doing when, while writing this, I realized a bunch of readers would be gently shaking their heads.

If you’re running your own business selling your own stuff, you’re going to swear black and blue that you believe in your stuff. If you work for a company you like, you’ll swear the same thing!

The bad news is, what you tell other people isn’t the same as what you tell yourself. You unconscious mind (the part that pushes the “sabotage” button) knows when you’re full of it. It KNOWS what you really believe.

Having extensively interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, I can tell you that a huge percentage of business owners have incongruent beliefs about the integrity/awesomeness of their product.

If you’re self sabotaging, at all, it’s time to take a good hard look at what you believe about your industry, your company and your product.

But fear not! If you’re beliefs aren’t quite aligned, it’s all good! I’ve got three revolutionary options for you to solve this problem, right here…

Belief fixer Number 1 – The confrontational one


Be more awesome. Does a part of you just know that what you’re pitching isn’t quite good enough?

Use this post as the best wake-up call you’ll ever receive and go FIX that thing. Then, listen to your intuition. Once your unconscious agrees that your product is pure dynamite, get back out there and sell it!

Sorry, but sometimes if you’re not good enough… well, you simply need to be better!

The alternative is to give up altogether and for some people, that seriously may not be a bad idea.

Belief fixer Number 2 – The easy way out


The feelings you’re feeling that make your unconscious suspicious of dodgy beliefs could actually be based on a lack of belief in your OWN abilities. In other words, you are fearing the sales process itself.

Is this is you, you’ll be getting some more tips on this stuff later on in this series. If you want a shortcut, go grab a copy of Demystify your Fear and accelerate yourself beyond this fear/sabotage stuff for good.

Belief fixer Number 3 – The practical solution


So, you’ve realized you don’t quite believe in your industry/company/product 100%. Half of the reason the self sabotage happened was because you were consciously trying to ignore this belief. That’s why your unconscious had to kick up such a huge fuss – it just hates it when you try lie to yourself.

A potential solution is to, from this day on, make sure you remain consciously aware of those shortcomings in what you offer.

When you’re engaged in the sales process, make your prospects are made aware of those shortcomings too. Communicate your true beliefs about what you’re selling.

This will actually work very well (and create MORE sales) if your stuff, despite any shortcomings, still has some great competitive advantages and/or benefits. Quit trying to hide things from yourself and your customers.

Imagine a rental car company rep, telling customers:

“We’re not the cheapest, but I can promise you we’re the most reliable!”

The worst mistake would be to try and ignore the issue of price, to sidestep it or (worse) lie about it.

Be 100% honest with your unconscious mind and eliminate sales self sabotage for good.

(If you, after being 100% honest with yourself, realize you have no benefits or advantages left over…. see Belief Fixer Number 1)

This post comes first because, starting tomorrow, I’ll be drilling into the practical elements of emotional and rational sales techniques. Get yourself and your beliefs sorted now, so that you can take full advantage of what comes next.

I can guarantee that, if you’re already sabotaging, failure to heed this post will make everything else in this series next to useless. Techniques, skills and tactics don’t make any difference if your beliefs are causing self sabotage.

Enough ranting from me.

What do you think? Are your sales beliefs rock solid? Why? If not, why?

Scroll down to join the discussion – if you’re reading this in your email, you’ll need to click the link to visit my actual site.


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  1. This is intriguing.

    Take my example. I am in the business of copywriting and marketing through social media. I believe that I am not selling snake oil.I also believe that the investment made by my client in my services is going to pay back many times in the near future. And these beliefs rank right up with the belief that Yoda was the kickassest awesomest Jedi to have ever lived.

    And yet, when it comes to cold calling I hesitate, though after following your advice the levels of hesitation has come down.. But selling has not come as naturally and flawlessly as, say, cranking out good copy. And that is worrisome as an entrepreneur.

    I think my sales belief are not rock solid owing to the fact that I have just started out and haven’t completed a project yet. Once I know that I can walk the talk and deliver selling would be a breeze. So I am taking a variation of the third approach, being practical, working on smaller projects and customers and then going for the big boys

    1. Hey Bhaskar,

      Sounds to me like you need to figure out your own practical solution. If you can “prove” to your unconscious mind that you’re a copywriting star, then it’ll support you by unleashing FULL belief in your product/service.

      Since your just starting out, it hasn’t yet had a chance to do that. So my advice would be to find a single project you can take on for free, rock it and measure your success. When you’ve got a killer testimonial in the bank, that smidgeon of self sabotage will simply vanish.

      Try it and see 🙂

  2. I’m pretty pro-active, so I make sure that whatever I try to sell, I love. I’m sure there’s some kind of stuff buried somewhere that could be improved though! There always is.

    1. hehe yeah, those words sort of skim over what could be decades of work 😛

      It’s true though… being awesome is still the fastest, proven shortcut to enjoying phenomenal business success!

  3. Huh….. Um….. I’d like to duck and weave and say sure, 100% solid, but I’ve been running smack into my beliefs for the last two weeks – and not in a good way.

    I was thinking it was other beliefs though, not in my products and services. Now, I don’t know. Is this part of it? Can I put my hand on my heart and swear that there’s a true, definite need for my products?

    Actually, I can, but there’s still a niggling (huge niggling) belief there that’s not right. I need to go and think about this one some more.

    1. Personally I’d say it can be other beliefs that get in the way, though Peter knows more about that than I do.

      But here are a few examples.

      I’m ULTRA-confident about my business and have no issues selling… but I’ll kick myself for accepting calls from potential clients. Why? Because I believe they’re going to ask me questions I don’t have the answers to (absolutely unfounded) and laugh at me (unfounded again).

      I’d be extra confident (and probably explode from it) if I got over these two little thorns.

      1. Not to poke fun, but I am pretty happy to read this post from you. I see Men with Pens everywhere, see how well you write, and how successful you are in your business. So it is a good feeling knowing that we share the same issues.. and how you have still managed to be where you are today with them.

        This isn’t a scapegoat to overlook my own issues (I don’t want to say problems haha), but somehow it makes them seem easier to overcome.

        1. Everyone has stuff to work on – the moment you start believing you’re “all good” is the moment you stop growing.

          And James, if you get any more confident I’m pretty sure you’ll break some universal law of physics causing your confidence to collapse in on itself into a black hole that destroys the earth. Just sayin’ 😛

          1. @Dave – That’s the thing – everyone has issues, even the big names (and some bigger names than my own, I’ll add). I think what makes the difference is working (ACTIVELY) at overcoming issues and not letting them linger forever.

            And I think the trick is that I *believe* I can overcome anything. Sometimes it just takes a bit longer, but that’s because I’m being a wuss.

            @Peter – Can I use that as a testimonial? 😉

  4. Ah, a thought provoking post! I am going to be thinking about this one long after I’m done writing this comment.

    I feel like this ties in a lot with what I said my main issue was out of the 3 keys: — my favorite key wasn’t listed by the way: Red Key 😉 — Emotion. If there is a lack of belief in what you are selling, there is no way you are going to be able to give THE OTHER PERSON an emotional response.

    So no, I do not believe my beliefs are rock solid. However, with each successful project I complete, they get better, which is a given. I think that is a requirement in order to believe in something: actually seeing it work. The trick is when a project goes well, you take as much confidence-juice from it as you can. Don’t play it down and say it “went OK,” instead say it “went FANTASTIC” and soak up the thought.


    1. I agree Dave, this is kinda like what I was telling Bhaskar in his comment above… sometimes you need to produce some experiential evidence so you can believe in your OWN ability to deliver. Especially important with entrepreneurs.

  5. This series is great Peter. I love the authority, love how you’ve specifically targeted entrepreneurs with this blog, and I love how everything you’re saying applies directly to our lives.


  6. I think I struggle most with the problem that I don’t have a super strong belief in myself. I have developed a killer product and talked to a ton of potential customers (schools) but am holding myself back in a way and not selling hard yet. I am lingering on gathering information. I think it is because if I go all out and sell, it sets me up for failure if I don’t do well with the business.

    1. Justin, I’m really curious to know… do you have a track record of happy customers who have already bought and enjoyed your product? Or are you just starting out?

      The advice I gave Bhaskar (above) might apply. Let me know…

      1. Peter,

        No track record for me. It is a new service and I am still working on getting the first few customers while putting the final touches on the service I am creating. Like I said, I haven’t started selling hard yet and have been kind of waiting for someone to ask to buy.

        1. hehe and how is that (the waiting) working out for you? 😛

          Get some case-studies/testimonials/free demos under your belt. It’ll do wonders and equip you with either the beliefs you need, or the learnings you need, to be successful.

  7. I think my beliefs are lacking. When I talk to clients I know I can help them improve what their doing, but inside I can hear myself saying, “you don’t have much real world experience”. Despite the lack of real world experience, I know I have the technical skills to make a difference when they use my services. But the belief that I’m not good enough is very prominent and stops me from closing deals.

    1. Hiya Jared,

      It sounds to me like you *are* your product. If you’re selling your own services or are a solopreneur, it becomes very easy for belief in your product and belief in yourself to get caught up in a psychological mishmash.

  8. Industry, product, company… I really do believe in all three. Except.

    Borrowing from your sales copy, Peter, I need to “Silence the mental whisper that tells you you’re not good enough – forever”. I was so thoroughly trained NOT to be strong and independent (and yes, awesome!) that I trip again and again over those whispers. I’m not supposed to succeed, and THAT insidious belief has to be overcome.

    I have the knowledge, skills, ethics and vision to create abundant success in almost any business. If I could just get on my own team.

    When I figure it out, I’m going to teach it to my generation of women entrepreneurs. The “glass ceiling” is mostly made up of the programming we bought into.

      1. True enough, Peter. There’s just a whole ‘nother layer of “because you’re not a boy (man/breadwinner)” on top of all of it. I’m of the generation that was actually refused raises and promotions to our faces with those words. It still happens, of course, but at least not that blatantly now.

        So there’s the “It’s ok for me to be a raving success” challenge, for all of us. And for some of us, the “It’s ok for me to be a raving success even though I’m a woman” challenge of scratching out those last five words completely. Wish I could do strikethrough formatting on here.

  9. Are my sales beliefs rock solid? Well at first glance I’d like to say, yes, but I bet if I really thought about it for a few, I might find a few cracks in there.

    I believe we can actually take this one step back from even where this post goes. You mentioned it’s not about things like your religious beliefs and all that. I know that’s not where you were going with this post, but personally I think those are the sort of things new entrepreneurs really need to look at first, before starting their journey.

    … their own personal belief system.

    You need to know and discover who the real you is. Why do you believe in what you believe? Is it because you were taught to believe that by your teachers, parents, friends, etc.?

    Do you believe in God because others told you to?

    I could make this comment really lengthy on this subject, but in essence, I believe successful people need this certain personal “firm grounding” their feet are planted on, and it starts with discovering who the “real you” is.

    Once you are confident in your own belief system, then you can go about your journey on world domination (oh, that’s James’ journey hehe).

    1. Love the comment John and you won’t find any argument from me – I’m a big advocate of having a firm, psychological foundation of IDENTITY before attempting to win in business.

      I can confirm that hundreds of lost/confused biz owners I’ve met and worked with have struggled to know who they really are, what they value and believe. It’s not a coincidence that such folk struggle to make ends meet.

      Thanks for the thoughtful contribution man 🙂

      1. Hey my pleasure. You put what I was trying to say so eloquently (psychological foundation of IDENTITY) … I love that!

        And by the way, good morning! Have I really been working on my computer that long today! hehe

  10. Peter,

    “What won’t work is your enthusiasm” You are absolutely correct!

    If a person makes a purchase based on emotions, whether I say something or not the person is likely to make a decision based on my enthusiasm and how it makes them feel.

    This post really got me thinking. Are my sales beliefs rock solid? Good question. I am making my list of beliefs and asking myself why.

    With a new venture, there are a lot of “I don’t know”. Meaning, I am not sure what to think about it yet. However, I need to find a solid yes or a solid no to stand on and why I believe yes or no. Does this make sense?

    1. Hey Marcy,

      There’s been a few readers here who seem to be in that “just starting” phase where beliefs are yet to be tested. The secret is simply to take action, get out there and try it. Don’t expect overnight success, but aim to learn a lot. If you aren’t able to get 100% belief in your product right away, you’ll quickly figure out what you need to change to make it “belief-worthy”.

  11. For me, it’s a matter of understanding my beliefs and creating a business around that. When I talk about such a business, people pick up on my passion and dedication to the product. And that gives me so much credibility.

  12. Hmmm. Beliefs aren’t always that simple though, are they? For instance, I have confidence in my product, because it comes from who I am, and I’m comfortable with that. But what I have less confidence in is my ability to convince others that the value in my product is greater than a chunky financial amount. That’s down to experience, I suppose. The more sales experience I have, the more I’ll be able to assumptively close.

    1. Hint: A lack of ability to convince others about product quality is… you guessed it, a belief!

      But you’re right, I feel, that the more experience selling you have… the more you’ll realize that you CAN convince others. You just have to learn how 🙂

  13. Gyday;

    Was setting the new records in sales of investment properties in Queensland until I realized how badly my clients were being ripped off by the developers….was making 30-40k per month and doing it with JOY and ease..every 3rd cold call was a sale….My whole being was believing I had the way to prosperity for everyone and I sold it with genuine love for my clients. It was sales without selling really.

    Moral of the story is….believe in what you are doing and KNOW WHY…

  14. hello all :),
    I am 20 and new at everything! but I have a fascination with understanding myself and who I am and find this whole piece and all of its comments very interesting. Ive just started as an aftermarket sales person at a car yard and tho I do believe you are all on much bigger paths and projects than I at this stage i really found this a good question to ask myself. however now I’m not 100% sure what it is that is that is making me hesitate with the excitement levels when its time to see a customer, make a call or send an e-mail. I do believe that my products are important, and some i could consider as almost necessary and yet I have fear of “closing the sale”. however i don’t think its because of the common fear they will say no etc. i think its because I feel we dont necessarily need to charge the amount my company are asking me to ask from the customers. but on top of this i have the conflicting emotion that depending what i charge then effects what money i get to put into my pocket, so to over come that i tell myself that my products are actually helping these people. So when looking at the figures at the end of the month its obvious that the products i do truly believe help people are always the ones i seem to sell most. however at the end of the day i am honest with myself but i always seem to be left with this question: am i maybe to nice for sales? if my beliefs are sabotaging my selling are they to deep a belief to over come? or am i maybe just prematurely judging my role considering Ive only been in this position for 3 months? i see so much potential for me in this role as i am a talker, people person and really understand/love the psychology that comes with it. i know my thoughts are a bit of a mess but is there any light you could shed on my situation?

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