In an attempt to help you break down your self-inflicted performance barriers, I will be direct and to the point. You have certain sales skills. These sales skills live within the range of your comfort zones. These comfort zones dictate your results and your level of success. Have you ever caught yourself thinking or saying any one of these phrases as a manager, coach, or peer, when offered some strategic or situational advice?

“That’s Not My Style”

If you’re going to be honest with yourself, isn’t the reference to style a representation of your existing comfort zones? Humans have an innate instinct to default to the familiar and what’s easy when under pressure. Your style represents what you already know and everything you’re accustomed to. Your style also delivers your current results. For example, you may say that your style is to be laid back and listen, but what happens when it’s time to assert or challenge the prospect because he or she is rationalizing or justifying why they are not going to make a change? How does a laid-back style work in that situation? Being laid-back can be effective, but it can also be a detriment when it’s time to be assertive.

“That Doesn’t Play to My Strengths”

For those of you who connect dots quickly, you’ll recognize that “style” and “strengths” are the same thing. Strengths, once again, are what you default to when the pressure is on. In many sales situations, strength lies in delivering presentations. Why? Because presenting gives you a false sense of control. Presenting allows you to feel like you’re delivering or contributing something – doing your job. If the prospect doesn’t choose your service, you can at least assure yourself you gave it your best effort by delivering a magnificent presentation. The act of presenting (strength) can be a cover for not asking important questions or challenging the prospect. Strengths make you feel good, but do they deliver the results you want?

“My current methods work fine.”

“I’ve been successful in the past with how I currently do things.” What you’re really saying is right or wrong, I’ve earned this lump on my head with a lot of effort – blood, sweat and tears – and I’m going to carry it around with me as a badge of honor, and not change. Instead of taking a step forward to learn a new skill (which can be temporarily uncomfortable), you still to what you know, the familiar that feels safe.

The thought of applying new sales skills and making mistakes causes short-term insecurity. It’s easier to hide behind the cool reminder of past successes. Free yourself from the burden and pressure of being caught in some of these hiding places so you can move your results forward. Instead of finding a false sense of pride in past effort, style, and commitment, embrace the challenge of learning something new and creating something different.

How do you tap into your real potential and improve your results? The answer lies between today’s strengths and style and the new skills you’ve yet to learn and apply.