Replacing Negative Beliefs With Positive Ones: A Sales Person’s Guide

Updated on March 12, 2019
Jerry Cornelius profile image

In a varied career, I have spent a couple of decades in sales, sales training, sales management and running my own businesses.


Negative or Limiting Beliefs

Holding negative or limiting beliefs can seriously hinder your sales career. This article details how beliefs work, and how to switch them from positive to negative.

A belief is something that you choose to believe is true. The key word to note here is ‘choose’. Just because you or I, or anyone else for that matter chooses to believe something doesn’t necessarily mean it is ‘true’.

Believing | Source

How Beliefs Work

Here is an example – Spoiler alert: Don’t let the kids read this.

When we were children we believed, to a lesser or greater degree that adults (especially our parents) were all knowing and had the answers to all our questions. This ’belief’ affected our behaviour; we constantly asked them questions, and based our subsequent actions on their answers (Q: Where do Christmas presents come from? A: Santa brings them for all good boys and girls - Child thinks this is true so I better behave!)

As we grow up, we realise that adults (or our parents) don’t really have all the answers and are not all-knowing. Often the answers they give are simply a product of their beliefs (or an opinion). As we get older still, we start seek our answers in other ways, by consulting books, the internet or our friends etc. We no longer believe our parents are all-knowing.

Did this new change in beliefs affect our behaviour?

You bet, we started to challenge our parents on several levels and might no longer consult them for their opinion. This in turn would make us more independent - this change in beliefs usually happens in that uncomfortable time of life called ‘the teenage years’.

Beliefs change behaviour. Change the belief (it is irrelevant whether the belief is ‘true’) and you change the behaviour. Period.

How Beliefs Affect your Work

So, for example, say you are a salesperson and you ‘believe’ that you will never make ‘Sales Person of the Year’, this is a limiting belief that, without going all ‘woo woo’ will be hard wired into your subconscious. Everything you do at a subconscious level will support that belief. In the end it will become a ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’ – and guess what, you won’t achieve ‘Sales Person of the Year’ – worse still, not hitting the goal just proves the belief is ‘true’ and reinforces it.

Negative and limiting beliefs are a big problem, and really as sales person (or any person) you can do without them.

How to Change Beliefs

So how do you change negative or limiting beliefs?

There are zillion different ways of doing this but my favourite method is to Acknowledge/Break Down/Rebuild. Here’s how you do it:



The first step is that you actually have to acknowledge that you have a negative belief. This is easier said than done, remember these things are hard-wired into your subconscious. You may not be able to remember when the negative beliefs started to take hold (maybe it came from your parents, teachers or even an experience when you were young), but the key thing is to acknowledge that it is only what you believe and not necessarily the ‘truth’ and, more importantly, that holding this belief is holding you back.

Break it down
Break it down | Source

Breaking Down Negative Beliefs

The second step is to break down the belief by asking yourself questions to start destabilising the belief. These questions will help to start undermining and breaking down the negative belief. So, for example, if your belief is ‘you will never make Sales person of the Year’ you might start asking yourself questions like:

  1. If I’ve had similar experience and the same training as the rest of the sales team why can’t I beat them with a little extra effort?
  2. Could my negative belief be affecting the way I interact with my colleagues and more importantly customers; and could that be having a detrimental effect on sales efforts?

To which you might answer something like:

  1. Yes, all things being equal, maybe the extra effort would give me an edge.
  2. Yes, it’s possible, and If I get rid of the negative belief then maybe it’ll have appositive effect on my sales.

Asking questions like the above will weaken and destabilise a negative belief – in a way the belief starts to doubt itself. If you ask enough of the right type of these questions, they will destroy it.

Positive Beliefs under construction
Positive Beliefs under construction | Source

Building Positive Beliefs

As you destroy a dis-empowering belief you need to build a new empowering belief to take its place.

You can build this better belief by asking ‘good’ or empowering questions of yourself.

Here are some examples of some empowering questions:

  1. What attributes do I currently possess that I can call on to give my sales efforts a boost?
  2. What are the upsides of really going for ‘Salesperson of the Year’?

Let’s look at these two questions in a little more detail, and the answers they might produce.

With question 1 you need to ‘Think out of the box’ to use the old cliché. What makes a salesperson a successful salesperson? Well, one of the key attributes of a great salesperson is ’people skills’ or communication skills.

Can you think of a time in your life/past occupations when ’people skills’ were a major part of your role? Have you led a team on a project in a previous occupation, a voluntary organisation or even at school or college? Have you been in a position to resolve conflict or successfully arbitrated between two or more parties? Have you worked a lot on the telephone in a past life? These are all examples of people skills, start by listing your experiences in this area on notepad.

What other attributes make a successful salesperson? Another might be tenacity or consistency. Can you think of a time when you have set yourself a goal and set about achieving it using these qualities? Maybe you are a Black Belt in karate, if so, didn’t you need to spend hours in the dojo (karate training hall) honing your skills until you finally achieved that goal? Isn’t that quality something that will help you towards your goal? Think about your experiences were your tenacity or consistency came to the fore, and again make a note of these.

When making notes, make them as detailed as possible, stating the time, place and the names of the people involved in any particular example. Review your lists, doesn’t this tell you that you have a lot of what it takes to be successful? What other attributes can you think of?

Question 2 seems a little weird at first; after all the main upside of going for ‘Sales Person of the Year’ would be actually winning it and the prize that goes with it. But apart from winning outright there might be a lot of upsides just by ‘going for it’ even if you don’t win. For example, making a plan to maximise your sales over the next few months will enhance your planning and prioritisation skills – which will put you in stronger position going forward and boost your confidence.

You will also be noticed by your boss and colleagues when you really go for it. This will help your future prospects. Even if you don’t reach your goal, by ‘going for’ it you will end up much closer to your goal than not going for it, therefore make more sales and make more bonus even without winning the main prize. All this will boost your confidence and skills as a salesperson meaning that even if you don’t get ‘Sales Person of the Year’ this time you will have a much, much better chance next time. Basically, asking a question like this teaches you that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

These are just a couple of example questions, and I’m sure you can come up with your own, more relevant questions – however the whole point of these empowering questions is to start building a new positive belief to replace the old negative one.


Using the Acknowledge/Break Down/Rebuild method to destroy negative beliefs and replace them with positive ones takes time and patience, but it is worth it every time.

Have you successfully switched a negative belief into a positive one?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jerry Cornelius


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