Mastering the Mental Game

Published On: September 18, 2023By Categories: Business Management, Unbound Sales Growth Columns

Having the right mindset impacts all parts of a sale.

By Carole Mahoney

You may have noticed the theme of the sales advice I am sharing this year is different from the tactical and strategic topics I focused on last year.

We’ve covered everything from messaging to use with your buyers, how to be better active listeners, and how laughter helps to build trust.

Often when I share tactical advice on how to better communicate and collaborate with buyers, many people share that it didn’t exactly work for them or their team. The reasons are often because they didn’t remember the advice at the moment, did remember it but chickened out, or said and did the right thing at the wrong time or with the wrong person.

That is why this year has been all about the mental game in sales.

We know to live long and well in our personal lives we need to eat more vegetables, move more, and reduce our stress—we know it—but don’t always do it because our mental game doesn’t help us in doing those things.

In fact, it hinders us. That is the reason I have stressed in previous columns the importance of managing emotions and our need for validation in sales conversations.

Mastering the mental game in sales is necessary to help your buyers make decisions. It is also necessary for your team to perform at their best.

Rewiring the Brain

To do this, you need to have personal goals and a process and system for creating and reaching them. Then you must develop a positive outlook, which is more important than ever today.

This next thing you must do is an exercise I recommend 11 times in my book, Buyer First: Grow Your Business with Collaborative Selling, because both science and experience prove that it works.

The one thing that you should do as a business owner, entrepreneur, seller, and leader every day that will rewire your brain is a self-awareness and mindfulness practice. You should meditate.

I’m not suggesting it because it will help you reduce stress and improve your mental health, but because it rewires your brain so that you can better collaborate with buyers.

In fact, studies suggest just 15 minutes of meditation daily will make you a better salesperson. Heck, it will make you a better person!

Listen to the Science

Okay, I actually heard some of those eye rolls out there. I get it, I was skeptical too.

But understand the three most common mindset blocks that put a big old wet blanket on our sales success are a non-supportive buy cycle, emotional involvement, and seeking approval from others.

How we make our own purchase decisions is how we expect others to do so. Our excitement or anxiety in sales conversations makes it impossible to actively listen, and when we’re worried what others think of us, it prevents us from asking the tough questions when necessary.

These mindsets impact not just your sales success, but your hopes to be a better leader, and yes, a better version of yourself.

They also hinder your ability to make good decisions that you are confident in, focus on your team’s well-being, actively listen to them, and participate in those difficult conversations around performance and accountability when necessary.

Fortunately, changing your mindset is completely doable. We change our minds all the time, but that certainly doesn’t make it easy.

Regular meditation accelerates that process and makes it easier and more enjoyable.

Still not sure you believe me? Then listen to the science.

In a 2011 Harvard Medical School study, participants who did eight weeks of meditation showed changes in the areas of the brain having to do with decision making and emotional management.

In a 2013 study, researchers Andrew Hafenbrack, Zoe Kinias, and Sigal Barsade found 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can help people make smarter choices by counteracting deep-rooted tendencies.

The brief period of mindfulness allows people to consider the information available in the present moment, which leads them to make better decisions that lead to positive outcomes in the future.

This ties directly into the data from 2.3 million sales professionals that those who are able to make effective decisions and manage their emotions and need for validation perform better in sales than those who do not.

Tactics will constantly change, but mastering the mental game is what supports us to adapt to changes.

There’s Even an App

Like me, you might think that meditating is one of those things you don’t have time for. How does sitting around and breathing help you get things done? No one ever accomplished anything by sitting around!

I always found meditation to be difficult. I had too many thoughts running through my mind, and the idea of sitting still for any length of time seemed a waste. Then I discovered an app called Insight Timer that helps me choose what type of meditation I need and makes it easy to follow, with five- and 10-minute session options.

What I learned is that you can meditate anywhere! It can be in a plane or on a train. Heck, I’ve even done meditation in the dentist chair!

This is important to remember as you’re trying to adopt a new habit. Start small and be flexible with yourself, which will make it easier for you to consistently do something.

It wasn’t until I started practicing mindfulness, yoga, and meditation that I started to see that it isn’t about achieving perfection as some future state, but rather seeing and accepting the perfection of the moment I am in. Simple breathing techniques physically slow down your heart rate, helping you to relax and be in the present moment.

This may seem like fluffy, feel-good advice; I get it. I was once a believer the only way anything got done was with grit and hard work.

But as a salesperson, business owner, and leader, your beliefs and mindsets around sales will get passed on to your team. In my analysis of nearly 500,000 managers and the individuals who reported to them, the highest performing teams were 1000% more likely to share supportive beliefs and mindsets when their manager did. (Compared to lower performing teams whose managers had non-supportive beliefs and mindsets.)

Sales is not just a numbers game, it is a mental game. When you master your mental game with this small daily practice and create an awareness and safe space for your team to do the same, you will stand out from the competition, have less stress, and support your team for everyone’s growth.

Mahoney Offers Tips on YouTube for Sales Leaders and Sellers
Unbound Sales Growth columnist Carole Mahoney provides tips for sales leaders and sellers on YouTube. Past topics have included how to get over fears and have better conversations, how to become a top salesperson, and cognitive behavioral tips to sell on value. To watch these videos and future ones, visit Mahoney’s Linktree webpage and click “YouTube” in the drop-down menu.
Have a Sales or Marketing Question for Mahoney? Let Us Know!
Is there a sales or marketing issue that you have wondered about for a long time? Do you wish you or your team had a technique for better closing sales or promoting your business and its products and services? Unbound Sales Growth columnist Carole Mahoney can help. Email WWJ Editor Thad Plumley at and he will arrange for Mahoney to answer your question in a video at

Carole Mahoney, as the founder of Unbound Growth, has coached Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial MBA students on sales and been featured as a top sales coach by Ambition and Sales Hacker. You can contact her directly at

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