Traditional sales training techniques ignore the biggest obstacle to sales success: Not recognizing and taking control of the “Internal Critic”that lingers within every sales person, and every athlete. The internal critic is basically a habitual pattern of negative thoughts that people allow to continue unabated until they recognize that they are engaging in such thinking. Using techniques that professional sport psychologists use to help elite athletes overcome their obstacle to success works the same wonders on sales people.

Here are a few tips that you can use immediately to become an “Inner Winner”:

1. Understand the warning signs of your “Internal Critic” at work
Self-talk will either make you successful or will lead to disappointment. So often, people unconsciously use self-limiting thoughts, which prevent them from being successful. Examples of negative, pessimistic self-talk phrases, are:

  • “What if …”
  • “I hope I don’t …”
  • “I should have said …”
  • “The client won’t like me if …”
  • “I always have problems with …”
  • “I probably won’t be able to close this sale”
  • “I can’t believe how stupid I was to say that …”

Negative, pessimistic messages that people allow to pass through their minds immediately lead to muscle tightening throughout the body. More rapid breathing and often perspiring accompany this tightening. Consequently, these physiological responses are perceived as “stress” and you can read that all over the face and body language of the agent. Sales people can practice catching themselves when these types of negative thoughts go through their minds. They can make a fist (out of view of the prospective customer), which is a reminder to STOP thinking that way and to take a few relaxing breaths, release the fist, relax and proceed to think positively and optimistically.

There is an old saying that “What you believe, you can achieve.” Internal self-talk leads to beliefs (either positive or negative) and beliefs lead to the body’s reactions. Advisors need to believe in their products and in their ability to show the customer why she or he needs to purchase that product today. Once advisors believe in themselves and their products, they are in a much better position to achieve sales success.

2. Practice positive affirmations each day
Positive affirmations are positive, optimistic thoughts about your sales success as if it is happening today, right now. Since our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something real or imagined (for example, visualize yourself biting into a tart lemon and see what your mind tells your salivary glands to do), when you give yourself positive affirmations and imagine they these things are happening right now, your subconscious mind wants to make them happen for you. Here are examples of positive affirmations for agents:

  • “I know my products and I will show my customers how these products are perfect for their situation.”
  • “I know how to treat people so they will be open to my suggestions.”
  • “My self-confidence as a sales person grows each day.”
  • “I see myself breaking my sales records each month.”

Make a list of at least 10 positive affirmations to say each morning upon arising and each evening when retiring. Say each one 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening, breathing slowly and visualizing the each affirmation happening now.

3. Visualize sales success before approaching the potential customer
Your subconscious mind takes orders from you without judging success or failure. As noted above, internal dialogue and beliefs are one means of directing your subconscious mind. Another powerful technique for directing the subconscious mind is actually visualizing success. Professional golfers, for example, who visualize each shot before they make it find a tremendous similarity between their vision of that shot and the subsequent shot that they make.

Visualize yourself preparing for the sales call, gathering the materials, feeling really encouraged because you know the products and feel confident as you enter the room where the pitch will take place. (“Emotions are the key to sales success“) Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin the perfect sales presentation. You then see the customer smiling and nodding in agreement as you show him or her how much this product will help. Finally, visualize yourself shaking hands with the client, closing the deal and writing up the application.

4. The power of goal setting
People are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when they write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about the goal. Write down short- and long-term goals that are specific and action-oriented. For example, “For this month, I will write at least 20 applications.” Make sure the goals are realistic.

Next, visualize yourself feeling wonderful once you accomplish that goal. Imagine it as if you have already accomplished the goal. (“Envision your perfect day in financial services.”) Finally, write down ways in which you can sabotage yourself so that you won’t accomplish that goal. This is a critical way of recognizing ways you perhaps didn’t realize were undermining your success and how you will now stop that behavior.

Using these tips will help you look at the internal barriers to your success and how to release your true talent. In short, becoming an “Inner Winner” leads to success every time!

Jack Singer, Ph.D., is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. Dr. Singer has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEOs and elite athletes for 34 years. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit www.drjacksinger.com or call (800) 497-9880.