I hate sales, but I love selling!

Ugh. I came in after a great Fourth of July weekend to a mountain of work. As a small business owner, part of my responsibilities include business development, a.k.a. sales and marketing. I love the marketing part; it’s creative, spontaneous, and fun. I hate the sales part. It means calling people I haven’t talked to in a while, rekindling relationships I let slip, and worse – cold calling!

So I procrastinate and give myself other important things to do (one of the advantages of being the boss). I even consider looking up cold calling on the Internet and reviewing some sales training the Gillespie team has produced to refocus on “good” techniques. But after more than 15 years as a business owner, I know I need more than a reminder of the right behaviors. I need to reframe my mind set.

The problem with reframing mindsets is that it’s hard because we’re literally “hard wired” to dislike change.  The source of the problem I experienced is called “aversion.”  Psychologists have long told us that we tend to avoid that which causes pain and move toward that which gives us pleasure.  Sounds like a simple concept, but of course there’s more to it than that. The sources of our aversions are the fixed or “preconceived” beliefs we hold in our heads about what could hurt us– many of which may not even be true.  Preconceived beliefs are based, in part, on a set of rules we put together as a result of our life experience – childhood, education, life and work.  These experiences shape our beliefs and our beliefs then influence our attitudes toward tasks and people. 

Many times these beliefs are based on truth and serve us well. For example, my experiences and education about bees have ingrained an aversion to the buzzing of bees – and this aversion has kept me from being stung for several years! But other times, these beliefs are formed by incomplete or inaccurate experiences. These false beliefs actually end up limiting us and prevent us from moving forward or living life to its fullest.

In my case, my false beliefs about sales threatened to keep me from moving my business forward. I was avoiding calling people because I had an archaic vision of sales - pushy, fast-talking, annoying and manipulative people trying to make a sale. But then I stopped to examine these beliefs and realized that my actual experiences did not support my beliefs at all!

When I thought about how I grew my business in the past, I saw that I talked with people and listened and learned about their successes and struggles. I shared resources and ideas without expecting anything in return. I made connections and built relationships. I was my genuine, passionate self, and I had fun. And since many of those people ended up doing business with me later, it turns out I was actually “selling.” And I didn’t hate it – I loved it!

Since my belief systems didn’t reflect reality, I needed to reframe them so I could move forward. Once I realized making calls created opportunities to start relationships and help those I interact with, it stopped being something to avoid and became something to follow because it is gratifying and fun.

So, how about you? What activities are you avoiding that keep you from moving forward in your career? Take a moment to really consider why you avoid that activity; what do you think is going to happen? What underlying beliefs are affecting your outlook? If those beliefs are incomplete or inaccurate, then find the truth and reframe your beliefs. It will take some practice to reset your reaction – but keep focusing on how your reframed belief will lead you to more positive experiences. And let me know how it goes!