Two Bad Habits That Are Costing You Sales: How to Create Emotional Safety at Work

We have three enemies in sales. Of course, we’ve got the competition, but the other two are self-generated and come from within.

  • Some people have a natural skill for understanding how to do what they need to get done, and this makes it easier for them.
  • Making a mistake with an early conclusion that is actually the right one.

These are not minor problems. They can lead to you missing important information and failing to build trust with your prospect.

The solution is to change the way you approach a sale so that your prospect feels like they can trust you. Building emotional safety with them will make it easier for them to buy from you.

Building Your Emotional Safety Space

It’s important to understand that your prospect is a human too, and they have pressures outside of work.

They could lack trust from their superiors because of a previous employee who did not do well in the position.

They might be worried about going back to work after they are sheltered in place or a loved one who works for the health care industry.

Emotional Safety is a space where people feel comfortable to open up and be themselves.

You’ll also get to know what the stakeholders are afraid of. You can then use this information when you present your proposal.

If you want to be a good salesperson, this is what will help close the deal.

Emotional safety is something you can create by fostering an open and accepting environment for all of your team members.

If you want to develop a learner’s mindset and find the right solution, it starts with overcoming those 2 bad habits we mentioned earlier.

The Mindset of a Learner

Dr. Foster says in the book that he wrote with me, “If you want to be successful as a leader of people, it’s not enough just to do what is right.”

It’s hard to think about something when we have made up our minds on it.

When we know a lot about the buyer’s needs, it can be hard to listen and see new data.

When you have a successful sales record, like I do, you know your product service and the CRM. You also know how to show that your solutions fit.

To close a deal, it’s important to have strong communication skills and focus on building relationships.

You feel you are an expert, but no one else does.

Feeling like an expert in your field might be a bad thing, because you’re not always aware of the latest information.

Sometimes, your prospect may need something that you don’t normally provide. It’s important to get clarification on this before providing any assistance.

What if they ask a question you can’t answer?

If you don’t know what to do next, try these six steps.

When the salesperson enters with an expert mindset, they are looking to rely on information that is already known and may be missing out on new important details.

The best salespeople are constantly looking for new information to make the sale.

Three strategies for cultivating a learner’s mentality

It’s important to learn new things and do different activities. If you only work on sales stuff, it might be time for some classic literature or a music lesson.

This isn’t about learning something that will be immediately relevant to sales. It’s about finding your passion and having a love for knowledge.

At each step of the sales funnel, ask yourself if it is true. Challenge your assumptions and pressure test for validation.

By trying to learn something new, you’ll be breaking out of the habits and ruts that come with feeling like an expert.

Reflecting on your failures can help you develop humility. Doing this helps encourage the Learner’s Mindset.

To be successful in today’s sales environment, one needs to have empathy.

Stay Curious

Michael Bungay Stanier, a colleague and friend of mine, said in his latest book that we need to stay curious about the sales process longer.


When we stay curious, it allows us to discover more about a problem and learn what the real issue is.

When we get an RFP, we often make the assumption that they know what they need and are simply looking for a solution to their problem.

We are often quick to jump the gun and assume that because we’ve solved one problem, it must be time for another. But in sales, solving problems is what you do.

The problem may be a symptom of an underlying issue.

If the problem is bigger, then it could result in a larger sale.

If you want to have a successful career, it’s important that you stay curious and always be learning new things.

If you provide these details, it makes your product more appealing to buyers.

Here are three questions you should ask to help decide: 1. How much is the position worth? 2. What do I need from this person in order for them to be successful? 3. Is there a clear cultural fit between my company and candidate?”

You will be saving time, money and resources.

You’ve been very clear about what you want to do and why. What other pressures are there?

We’ve solved the problem, but there are still obstacles that might be in our way.

If we want to know what is keeping someone up at night, or the real problem they need help solving, it’s important that we stay curious and dig deeper.

Advantages of Having Emotional Safety

A company wanted our Winning With Accountability Training for 3000 of their mid-level managers, and they also liked the book. They were ready to move forward with it.

We almost responded to the RFP, but we wanted more time.

When I was hired, it felt great when they already had a solution for me.

I was happy that our solution would solve her problem, but I asked why she wanted to be accountable. Why did this training matter?

While our competitors were submitting proposals that only relied on their limited understanding, we researched more information and got a lot of feedback from this CHRO.

She said things like:

“We’re trying to teach the middle of our company when it really should be coming from the top. Our CEO, my peers and even me are not following through with what is written in our strategic plan.”

“It’s not our employees that need to change, but us at the top.”

Once we realized they were behind on their strategy and needed to model accountability as a leadership team, not just preach it, the problem became clear.

They knew their biggest problem, but it wasn’t the one they felt comfortable presenting. They attacked that instead.

We’ve always worked on large projects, but this time it was a two-year project worth millions of dollars.

And when it came time to start the training, we had a year of preparation and models for them.

The HR director was happy when I acknowledged that she knew more than me in the area of diversity, and accepted her advice.

She was able to be frank with me about her feelings, because I had created a safe environment for her. And she won the business from this client because of that.

Build Trust Now

Leading with a learner’s mindset, looking for the right conclusion first, and creating emotional safety can help you build strong relationships with prospects. This way they will feel safe to share their concerns which is key to your success.

You’ll have to do that before you can move on.

If you want to be successful as a salesperson, the most important thing is being trusted and confided in by your prospect.


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Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
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