This Technique Won’t Work for Your Selling Situation… So Don’t Bother With It

Do you make this mistake when selling?

When you read, hear or otherwise encounter a new selling skill or technique or process, do you tend to dismiss it?  You know what I mean: almost immediately rationalize why it won’t work.  You say to yourself, ‘it’s not me,’ ‘it won’t work with my clients,’ ‘that’s too cheesy,’ ‘my clients won’t like that,’ ‘not applicable to my product/service.’  The list goes on.

Simply put: saying that technique or skill won’t or can’t work is a debilitating mind game. It stunts sales growth and directly impacts your sales career.

Why we Play Mind Games

There are two primary reasons why some sales reps play these games.

  1. First, fear.   By denigrating an idea right off the bat, it means a sales rep doesn’t even have to try it.  If he/she never has to try a new method or approach there is no risk of rejection and ‘failure.’ For some, it is better to risk nothing and gain nothing than risk something and gain a lot.
  2. Second, complacency.  Some reps play mind games simply because they are complacent or worse, lazy.  Trying something new or different means change.  Change is uncomfortable for most people.  We become conscious of our awkward performance as we learn and implement, and because we are more conscious the mistakes or miscue seems huge.  We get embarrassed. We think the client is sitting there dissecting the error.  Better to stay in that safe, albeit conservative, selling world that we know and love so well.
The Net Result

The problem is we don’t realize we are victimizing ourselves.  Let’s face it: no one likes to admit they are ‘frightened’ or ‘lazy.’  Consequently, the tendency is to craft a detailed and seemingly logical rationalization that explains why a technique will not possibly work and therefore justifies the reason we won’t implement it. Case closed.

But what really gets closed is growth, development, and ability.  Sales results will typically stay the same … or maybe even decline.  The rep does not reach his or her potential in their sales or their career.  This eventually leads to frustration and discouragement.  Goals, objectives and dreams are not accomplished.  Bitterness ensues. Burnout is not unusual. Termination is a possibility.  The list goes on.

Who Plays These Mind Games

We are all guilty of the rationalization mind game to some degree (I am certainly no exception).   A degree of rationalization is human and sometimes legitimate.

But where rationalization really tends to settle is on underachievers or those who are going through a slump.  Rationalization offers an excuse to poor performance: “I know this technique won’t work so I won’t apply it. Not my fault.”

What to Do

The next time you read or hear or see a new sales technique,  pause for a moment and analyze what you are thinking. Try to catch yourself in the act of rationalization.  Do you hear the tape being played in your mind that says, ‘this won’t work because…”

If so, you’ve taken the first big step.  You’re looking at the problem square in the eye. Good for you.

Then try this one for size when it comes to rationalizing.  Say to yourself,

“I know this won’t work …. But… but… what if it did?  What if I tried using this new opening statement (or new objection handling technique, or new e-mail template or new closing technique …or whatever) and it works?  What would happen?  What could I gain from it?”

In effect you are fighting mind games with mind games. You are turning the logic around and forcing yourself to think of the benefits of taking the risk.

Then, say to yourself,

                “If I try this new technique what’s the absolute worst that could happen?”

If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is this: not much. In other words, you are not risking a lot.

At this stage the next step is to exercise a choice.  You have a choice to accept your initial rationalization (“it won’t work”) or a choice accept your  ‘re-rationalization’ (“what have I got to lose?”).

One more tip: even if you decide NOT to use the technique (and that’s okay, too) still keep an open mind. Don’t dump all over it.  The thing is, until you try it yourself you don’t really know if it will work or not. You have no evidence. Leave it alone.  By doing so, you don’t close your mind to future possibilities.


I am still stunned and amazed at the responses I sometimes get from readers of my blog, tweets and newsletters (or on occasion, in workshops) listing the ‘x’ reasons why one technique or another can’t work.    I think to myself, if they simply spent the time they took to compose their e-mail and applied it to trying the technique, their sales would probably increase in a New York minute.

Make a choice today.  Think, “It might work.”  Then give it a shot.

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