Identifying Roadblocks Key to Improved Selling Habits

Article originally published in

By Nancy Keny

Do you avoid making “cold” calls? Why? Does your mother’s admonition “Don’t talk to strangers” still ring in your head? Or, perhaps, it is fear of rejection?

Do you have specific, written goals and a time-bound plan for achievement? If not, why not? What is preventing you from making a commitment to which you can later be held accountable?

Are you stalking and chasing “suspects” who you believe will eventually become good customers, but haven’t yet made any real commitments to you? If so, is that because you don’t have a systematic manner by which to quickly qualify or disqualify an opportunity?

Are you accepting too many “think-it-overs” because you’re afraid that if you asked for a decision, it would be “no?” What would you lose by finding out sooner rather than later?

Improving the results of your selling efforts is a three-step process:

  • Identify the roadblocks that prevent you from finding, developing, and closing more sales.
  • Then, identify the real cause of those roadblocks.
  • Finally, take corrective actions.

The tendency for many salespeople is to skip the second step—identifying the underlying cause of the roadblock. For example, if you are uncomfortable making prospecting calls, perhaps to the point where you avoid them altogether, you might attend “prospecting” seminars and workshops in an attempt to learn new strategies and techniques.

But if the real reason for your avoidance behavior is a fear of rejection or a fear of talking to strangers, then learning new techniques, power phrases, and one-liners isn’t the answer. You would be working on the wrong end of the problem.

Similarly, if you’re accepting “think-it-overs” because you are afraid that asking a prospect to commit to making a decision would put too much pressure on him or her, or you’re afraid the decision will be “no,” then learning new “trial closing” techniques isn’t the answer.

Conceptual roadblocks—fears, anxieties, a negative outlook, and limiting expectations—can’t be removed with new strategies and tactics alone. You must first develop a new, more positive outlook and supporting beliefs, make new judgments about what you can accomplish, determine the steps you must take, and then take action.

If “taking action” requires new skills or improving your existing skills, then training to develop new approaches and techniques is appropriate.

Developing a new outlook and new beliefs requires an open-minded approach. You must be “open” to the possibility that you can achieve more successful results. Have you achieved those results in the past? If so, what has changed? Do you have colleagues who are realizing greater levels of success than you? What are they doing that you are not? Can you duplicate their efforts?

Look for evidence to support your new outlook of possibility. Sometimes, the only evidence you need is a lack of evidence to the contrary. If there is no evidence that clearly indicates that you can’t accomplish something, then the only thing holding you back is your own limited beliefs.

Developing a new outlook and beliefs is not enough; you must be willing to change. Change often requires you to stretch outside your comfort zone and is likely to cause some short-term discomfort. Your perspective on change—as a challenge and an opportunity to grow, or a disruption of your routine and an opportunity to “fail”—and your willingness to work through the short-term discomfort, will determine whether you reach higher levels of success or you maintain the status quo.

Not all roadblocks are conceptual. Some are indeed technical in nature. That is, your “technique”—what you say and do and how you say and do it—is not as effective and/or efficient as it needs to be for you to achieve more successful and consistent results.

For instance, you might find it challenging to interact with people whose personalities are very different from yours. It would be to your benefit to learn about personality types and how to communicate effectively with those whose style is different than yours.

Suppose you find it awkward discussing financial matters with prospects and customers. And, as a result, you end up using “cut the price to close the sale” tactics. Then, it is appropriate to develop, practice, and become comfortable with specific, pre-planned “money” questions suitable for the various situations in which you find yourself.

If you are open to the possibility of more successful results and you have identified and, perhaps started to work on the strategies, techniques, and skills required to achieving those results, then you are on your way to greater levels of success.

Having the right outlook and the necessary skills, however, is only two-thirds of the formula. The third element is a strategy for accomplishment—a set of specific goals and a plan of action. Once you have determined exactly what you want to accomplish, develop a plan that identifies the specific activities you must do monthly, weekly, and perhaps even daily.

If you open your eyes to greater levels of success, acquire the necessary skills, and carry out the behavior, then your success is assured.