The Right Mindset of a Sales Professional

Before we get into the right mindset of a sales professional, let’s address the elephant in the room: 

A huge percentage of people are either afraid of selling or simply just don’t like it.  But why is that? 

Well, let’s take a look… I’m sure you’ve experienced at least one of these types of salespeople:

‘The stalker’ 

Mindset: ‘if I follow them around long enough, they are bound to buy from me.’  Wrong!  

The Stalker is the salesperson who follows you around in a retail store when you just want to be left alone to browse.  When this happens to us, nine times out of ten we leave the store without buying anything.  In fact, without even having a good look at what is available and what we could have spent our money on.  


‘The Pushy Salesperson’ 

Mindset: ‘I will convince them to buy from me.’

You know… the one who leans forward, almost face-to-face, so close you find yourself taking steps backward.  The one who rattles off all the reasons why you must buy their product when they haven’t even found out exactly what you are looking for.  You’re just waiting for a brief moment when they look away from you and, that’s it, you’re out the door!!


‘The Non-Stop-Talker’ 

Mindset: ‘If I tell them absolutely everything about the product, I’m sure they’ll buy.’

God gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason.  Trouble is… not all salespeople use them in the right proportion.  If only they would shut up long enough to listen, they might understand that, yes, you are interested in buying a new nightdress and that’s why you are in the nightwear department – but for your grandmother!  Not for you!!


‘The Smooth-Talker’ 

Mindset: ‘I will sweet talk them into buying from me.’

He/she knows all the tricks in the book.  Strange how they have a friend who lives in the very small town where you grew up and also a younger sister with the same beautiful name as you.  hhhhmmm… Did they learn those tactics from the popular course ‘Building Rapport 101’?  We can see right through their smooth talk which leads us to mistrust them – about their sister and the benefits of their product.

‘The Used Car Salesman’ 

Mindset: ‘If I am economical with the truth, I will make a sale and I won’t have to see them again.’

Probably the most well-known and most disliked type of salesperson.  (Disclaimer: I am not referring to all used car salesmen – or women – in this category.  ‘Used car salesman’ is a term that has come about thanks to a small percentage of individuals who have given the industry a bad name.  It does not reflect the majority of honest and professional salespeople in the used car business.)

sales mindset

If, by chance, this type of salesperson does manage to sell you a car, chances are you will soon discover the flaws they covered up on the vehicle and will 1) never go back to them; and 2) tell all your friends to avoid them, too.

Let’s be honest – it’s no surprise that most people dislike selling, or salespeople.  Because we have all experienced more than a few ‘bad eggs’, we feel that – to be a salesperson – you need to be pushy, talkative, overly charming, untrustworthy or a combination of these traits.

Check out this Forbes article – ‘Why customers hate most salespeople’ – to understand some of the traps salespeople fall into which leads us to having not-such-a-great opinion of them.  

As the article says, one reason salespeople do not meet our expectations (in more ways than one) is because there is so much pressure on them – from their boss, their company or their family – to hit those targets, that the goal becomes all about them making a sale.  The concept of meeting our needs goes out the window.  At other times, salespeople simply do not have the correct sales training. 

Now we’ve looked at what salespeople should not do, let’s take a look at what they should do. Instead of salespeople pushing their products and services onto us, let’s look at the attributes and the mindset of a sales professional who is at the top of his or her game.  The type we don’t want to run away from.  The ones who truly meet our needs so that we end up walking away with exactly what we were looking for, plus a desire to tell others to visit that store and ask for the salesperson by name.

In fact, I met such a salesperson just the other day.

Last weekend, a friend and I came across – in our minds – the perfect salesperson.  My friend has never worn much make-up and has never been taught how to select and apply the most suitable make-up items for her skin type.  So, she decided to go to one of the many cosmetics shops in the local shopping mall to get some advice, and I went with her.  Concerned about being pounced on by the beautifully made-up beauty advisors who insist she buys a shopping cart full of beauty products, we entered one of the well-known stores with caution.

As we looked around, obviously not knowing where to start, we were approached by a friendly pair of eyes (as is typical in 2021, most of her made-up face was covered by a mask).  The saleslady (let’s call her Mary) asked in a caring way what we were looking for.  My friend explained her situation and Mary asked a number of questions to understand her needs even better.  Within minutes Mary showed my friend 2 suitable options that were perfect solutions to her problem.  Mary also suggested taking us to a separate room to apply the products to my friend’s face so she could see how the items looked and felt on her skin and be able to make an informed decision.  Mary applied the make-up to my friend’s face and added additional items to complete the make-up process – explaining every item along the way.  Not only had my friend found exactly what she was looking for – she looked and felt great!

sales mindset

With absolutely no pressure to buy every item Mary had used, my friend enquired about the main item and one or two others – which she happily bought.

We both walked away from that experience remembering Mary’s name, feeling as though we now have a trusted source to go to for all our make-up needs, and a desire to recommend Mary to others.

Mary demonstrated the ‘5 mindsets of highly effective sellers’ determined by in their article by the same name: 

  • She clearly understood her ‘why’
  • She was helping, not selling
  • She had clear intent
  • She focused on what she could control – her attitude and her effort
  • She listened as much as she spoke (she needed to explain how to apply each product)

There is no one ideal mindset for the perfect salesperson but if you adopt these five mentioned above, you can’t go far wrong.  

‘Sales’ is a career that we believe we definitely could or definitely could not do.  However, since March 2020, with so many people losing their full-time jobs and many of them setting up their own businesses, they are realizing that – like it or not – they need to sell!  And they better adopt the right mindset from Day One.

I’ve heard solopreneurs say ‘I can’t sell’ or ‘I hate selling’ or ‘I don’t know how to sell.’  Which reminds me of the saying ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’.  

If you work for yourself – you have to sell.  Nobody will be more passionate and more knowledgeable about your products and services than you.  

And being able to sell starts with believing that you can – having the mindset: ‘I can sell.’

Remember that selling is something we can learn.  If you have a growth mindset (where you believe intelligence can be developed) rather than a fixed mindset (where you believe intelligence is fixed), you’ll know that you can develop the skills of a great salesperson.

Check out this article on the benefits of a growth mindset by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. 

To help yourself along the way, think of ‘selling’ as ‘serving’, because that’s exactly what you are doing.  When done correctly, a salesperson understands fully what the customer needs and does their best to meet that need.  If their product or service is not right for the customer, the right thing to do is to be honest and tell them.  You may not make that sale today but you will be remembered and referred to whenever that customer speaks to someone who does want your product or service.

So, whether you are new to selling or have been in sales for years, developing the right mindset of a sales professional is crucial.

  • Adopt a growth mindset
  • Believe that you can sell
  • Treat it as ‘serving’, not ‘selling’
  • Truly understand the needs of your customer 
  • Use your two ears and one mouth in proportion
  • Show honesty and integrity

If you would like to learn some great sales strategies, register your interest for the virtual workshop ‘Achieving Sales Growth for Sales Leaders’ or ‘Achieving Sales Growth for Business Owners’.



Corrina Cross

Corrina is a People Skills Consultant & Facilitator who is passionate about developing people’s mindset and people skills (‘soft skills’) in order to increase productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line.

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