Self-limiting Beliefs in Sales Development

Jan 13, 2022
Collin Stewart

Darren Reinke is an executive coach and founder of the Group Sixty coaching company. His work centres on the internal journey of leadership, including how to become more authentic and build meaningful connections.

Darren joined the Predictable Revenue podcast to discuss self-limiting beliefs in sales development, including how to foster growth in your team, and reframe self-limiting beliefs into positive thoughts and actions.

How do self-limiting beliefs affect outbound sales development?

Self-limiting beliefs are negative thought patterns that hold you back from achieving your full potential. Left unchecked, they can be one of the greatest obstacles to sales success. Common self-limiting beliefs include phrases such as, “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not ready.” 

Reframing these beliefs is especially important for those in a leadership role. Sales development leaders are responsible not only for their own development but also for that of their team. Leaders need to be able to recognize these self-limiting beliefs in themselves and their team members, so they can take corrective action and build a more successful sales development team. 

“The only thing that gets in people’s way is their own head,” Darren says. He recommends a three-step process to overcome these limiting beliefs: intention, reflection, and action.

Identifying self-limiting beliefs in sales development

Before these negative beliefs can be overcome, first they need to be recognized and acknowledged. Sales development leaders should listen for queues from their team members; the words “should” and “could” often indicate a limiting belief. For example, if a team member or coworker says, “I should do this”, that would be a good place to dig a little deeper.

Darren also recommends watching for phrases such as, “I haven’t worked in that market yet” or “I haven’t sold to that audience before”, both of which demonstrate a lack of self-confidence in the salesperson’s abilities. Once these beliefs have been identified, the next step is to find the source.

“What are those old tapes that are spinning and playing in your head?” Darren asks. “I’m not good enough, I’m not ready enough, I didn’t go to a good enough university.” Oftentimes these beliefs are not data-driven but come from a subjective source. “It’s a person’s opinion, a comment, or something a person’s family says. Those are really toxic thoughts and behaviours.”

Try to identify your negative thought patterns and ask yourself where they came from. It might be something an old boss or family member said to you years ago, and that idea has stayed with you since.

How to overcome self-limiting beliefs in sales development

Darren encourages his coaching clients to look at these beliefs objectively. Once a self-limiting belief has been identified, the next step is to journal and reflect on where it came from. 

Darren gives an example of his own limiting beliefs about not being a good writer: “Is that really objective data? Where is that coming from?” In this case, the root of Darren’s negative belief was not achieving an A in his college English class. With this source identified, he was able to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

“I’m a huge believer in positive psychology,” Darren says. One of the best ways to overcome limiting beliefs is to focus on amplifying your strengths, while at the same time striving to push yourself out of your comfort zone. 

In Darren’s case, he decided to publish his book “The Savage Leader”, despite his self-limiting beliefs about writing. “If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, it’s actually a good warning sign you should go do that… whatever validation is on the other side, that’s almost irrelevant.” 

How to overcome self-limiting beliefs in sales development

How to identify  limiting beliefs so you can  grow as a leader

The best way to overcome self-limiting beliefs in sales development is to improve on those weaknesses and get better. “In many cases, there’s work to be done,” Darren says. “What are some of those gaps you can close to eliminate that self-limiting belief? What are the skills, behaviors and experiences you need to develop?” 

For example, maybe you’re a great communicator, but struggle to motivate your team. Are you giving them the tools they need to be empowered? How can you take your outbound sales development team from good to great? “There’s always an opportunity to get better.” 

Darren also recommends all sales development leaders make an effort to tailor their communication style to their team, to accommodate for different learning styles motivators. Tests such as the Strengths Deployment Inventory can help improve leadership agility. 

Coaching your outbound sales development team

“As managers, we should all be coaches to our teams,” Darren says. Sales development leaders should prioritize regular developmental conversions with their team (ideally every week). 

Discuss with each team member what they’re working on, what their targeted growth areas are, and how they’re improving their skills. Asking “What’s one thing you did well?” and “What’s one thing you could work on?” is a simple framework to get the conversation started.

As a manager, you can give team members coaching and practical advice on how they can improve. Few sales development leaders make the time for these conversations, but Darren argues that done well, they can double your team’s output. 

Darren also stresses the importance of documenting each conversation, so you can revisit these subjects over time. “You can definitely bring content to the table.” Bring up subjects you’ve discussed at past meetings, ask how it’s coming along and how you can help.

Helping your sales development team through self-limiting beliefs

Start by letting each individual set their own agenda; ask them what they’d like to focus on that week or month. If they are having trouble motivating themselves or aren’t taking the process seriously, help them understand what the benefit is to the team, to the organization, and themselves. “They have to want to get better,” Darren says, “and you have to help create the case for why.”

Some people are naturally more introspective, while others may struggle with the self-reflection step. In this case, Darren recommends reflecting on something objective, like the results of the Strengths Deployment Inventory test. If they disagree with their results, ask them why and try to probe a little deeper. “Can you see how someone might see that in you?”

In some cases, a team member’s self-limiting belief may be entirely false; for example, if someone views themselves as a bad manager despite evidence of the contrary. In this case, Darren recommends focusing on data-driven results: how the team has improved performance or the number of deals they’ve closed. “Have them acknowledge themselves and recognize their accomplishments.” 

How self-reflection can improve your leadership skills

“We focus so much on the external piece of leadership but the internal is just as important,” Darren says. He recommends sales development leaders reframe journaling as work because self-reflection is just as important as working for clients and closing deals. “You need to do it to be successful at your job.”

Darren journals first thing in the morning, as a way to work through his own limiting beliefs. “If you can get some of those negative thoughts out of the way, it’s going to really allow you to start that day and be much more effective.”

If you’ve struggled to keep a regular journaling practice in the past, think about the motivation behind this habit. You may be trying to achieve a clearer head or keep track of your goals, so focus on that objective.

The importance of reflection in sales development

“There’s so much value we can extract from knowing more about ourselves,” Darren says, “especially if you’re trying to be a better leader.” Regular reflection on your self-limiting beliefs, as well as those of your team, can be the first step to overcoming them.

If you want to connect with Darren to learn more about self-limiting beliefs in sales development, reach out via LinkedIn or email darren@thesavageleader.com. You can also check out his book, The Savager Leader, which explores the subject of leadership from the inside out.

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