The Mindset That Keeps Problems Unsolvable

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Problem-solving is a key skill for business people, and salespeople are no exception to this rule.

Problems occur in many guises; they aren’t just restricted to what is going on when the customer is confirming their situation. Sometimes, salespeople face their own problems and they often become unsolvable…not because of the nature of the problems, but because of the mindset that accompanies them.

So what keeps the problems re-occurring? What makes them unsolvable? How can we have a different approach so the problems are less likely to be all-consuming?

Problem and Solution blackboardThere are three components that keep problems unsolvable. We know that the correct mindset is vital to find solutions to any problems, but we do need to identify what holds us back from solving them.

The first component that holds us back is assuming that the problem is all-pervasive. This means that it is thought as spreading to affect all areas of life. A salesperson may feel they have a problem with a certain type of client. They may have problems relating to or building rapport with them.

The problem then becomes widespread, where they see this trait in every client they meet, so the problem extends itself to other types of client. This is now seen as a real concern by the salesperson, and they can’t see a solution because it now occurs everywhere they look.

To overcome this, you must see each problem as an independent situation. What might be true with one client doesn’t necessarily apply to all clients. It could be very specific to one type. You need to view each client as an opportunity to personalise your offering. You can treat each client exactly the same (and get the same results every time) or you can differentiate your style to match and mirror the person you are dealing with.

It then ceases to become an all-pervasive, all-encompassing problem. Individualise out your problems, check the way it has to be approached and learn from each occurrence.

The second mindset that keeps problems unsolvable is the feeling that they are permanent. Many people assume that a problem can’t be solved because it always seems to raise its head in similar situations. For instance, a person may think that, because they haven’t been able to close the last four or five sales, then they will never be able to in the future. Their language often reflects this mindset by creating self-fulfilling prophecies that attracts negativity into their lives.

The way to overcome this mindset is to learn from every experience. the fact that five opportunities have failed to materialise means that changes have to be made. The only way this problem will become permanent is if we don’t learn from it and don’t change. Think what has brought about the results. what did you do to achieve these outcomes? So what needs to change in order to get different outcomes?

By assuming that problems are permanent, and you can never change, you will be stuck in a deep rut that will be tough to get out of.

The third component of the mindset that keep us trapped is that the problem is personal. This creates a change in the self-esteem of the individual. They feel the problem is all about them, affecting their whole thinking process. For instance, a person feels that the problem is caused by themselves, their attitude o their character. Pretty soon it becomes something they can’t control, and they believe that this means they have some sort of character flaw. With that mindset, they approach every situation with the idea that they can’t solve it, they’re not good enough, and never will be.

Remember that all problems are situational. It’s rare that a specific problem is unique enough that no-one has ever experienced it before. So don’t think you’re the only one who has ever gone through it. If you make a problem too personal, you will assume that it can’t be solved, and it will affect you as a person. Identify others who have faced similar problems and have overcome them. Look for mentors or guides who have overcome such problems before and follow their example.

Being aware that most problems stay unsolvable because of a specific mindset is the first key in solving them. These three components (pervasive, permanent and personal) keep the creative problem-solving mode under wraps, so be aware of what changes you need to employ to build better skills in this key area of sales development.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Scott Chan at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 31 May, 2013

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