An Alternative View of Fear
It’s fair to observe that fear is often present on both the buyer and the seller side. Buyers, not only in business, may be afraid to make a wrong decision. And sellers often fear rejection or losing a sale. A successful way of overcoming fear is to identify when we become aware of that fear rising, either in ourselves or in closely listening to our customers, and then to work toward a solution.
Step 1: Acknowledge It!
You Cannot Change What You Don’t Acknowledge
In my many years of coaching and helping sales people be more effective, I have seen many people struggling with fear and it can be paralyzing. Sales is very personal, we need to understand that. We are only as good as our numbers and rejection can feel very personal. So, it’s OK to embrace that fear. AND it’s vital to understand the fears buyers might bring to the table.
Step 2: Have a Plan!
Being prepared is half of the battle. I always compare becoming comfortable and successful in a consultative sales environment to learning to drive a car with a stick shift transmission. As long as you are focusing on shifting the gears and releasing the clutch properly, you will not be in full command of your vehicle. AND you won’t be able to focus on traffic the way you should. You need to get to a point where shifting becomes second nature.
The same holds true for becoming comfortable and successful in applying a consultative sales process.
For example, when prospecting, you need to be comfortable when picking up the phone, easing into your conversations, being prepared to ASK the RIGHT QUESTIONS, listening for ways to position the VALUE of your solutions, gaining commitments for next steps if there is a good fit. Or if there isn’t a good fit, to be able to end a conversation on a positive note, building bridges for the future.
Being able to confidentially and naturally do this on a regular basis is then only possible when it is second nature to you so you can focus on your prospect and not allow fear to derail you.
Step 3: Practice makes Permanent (and even perhaps Perfect)
It really does, in every area of our life. I, for example have no fear of cold calling whatsoever. Not sure why, but I almost get an adrenalin high when chasing C-Level prospects and breaking through to them. For some reason the universe has given me that unique gift and I embrace it and tapped into it to start a business.
Flying on the other hand was something that caused me sleepless nights, shaking, sweats and all the other unpleasant things that happen when you are afraid of something. Air travel, despite all the accidents, terrorist attacks, etc. is still immensely safer than getting into a car. But I certainly don’t tremble when driving toward New York City on I-95. Even though the statistics are telling me another story.
Once I recognized this fear as being a constant companion, I started to choose air travel over ground travel every single time I had a choice, just to make it more routine. Unless there is a deeper psychological issue simmering, the more often you do something, the easier it will be.
Still to this day I don’t like turbulences (neither do I like potholes on the highway), but these days I board an airplane with the same ease as getting into my car.
Step 4: Research, Prepare, Practice, Do It & Repeat!
The better prepared you are and the more you prepare, the more comfortable you will be in any sales situation, it puts you in the driver’s seat. Write out the questions you want to ask and make sure you start with a Who, What, When, Where or How so the answers will not be a simple “yes” or “no”.
Then pick up the phone! Yep! You gotta pick up the phone and dial!
If cold calling sends tremors down your spine, there is nothing like jumping into the pool and starting to swim. Take a deep breath after every prospect/client interaction, reflect on what you heard, what you said, what you can do better next time – and then – DO IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND SO ON! That’s a big step in overcoming your fears.
Step 5: Celebrate Your Success
And Reward Yourself for Every No
Entrepreneurs and sales people don’t celebrate their successes enough. We are easy to point out bad experiences, but hardly every take the time to acknowledge what we have accomplished. It’s truly important.
Take the time to reflect and celebrate AND reward yourself for every No you get. Whether your prospect will agree to a conversation or not, you have worked hard to get somebody on the phone.
And whether they are interested or not, is not something you can always control. It’s common in sales to get rejected and the more often you experience it, the easier it will become.
Here’s an example from a chocolate-loving salesperson we know: “If you like chocolate, put Hershey kisses on your desk and grab one every single time your prospect says, “No thanks”. Because NO is the second-best answer you can get!”
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