Fear of selling is common and costly. It’s common for non-sales people but also surprisingly common for full-time sales people too. And they usually tell you that they have sales-fear using secret code phrases:
“I didn’t/don’t have time to sell”
“No one’s buying right now anyway”
“Customers don’t like us offering them other things”
You and I know that these are excuses. We tell ourselves stories to justify our actions. (And hey, you’re not off the hook either! What stories do you tell yourself to justify your own sales management decisions? What stories of your own are directly related to your team’s sales results?) Smart sales managers are able to decipher these code phrases and realise they have a clear and specific problem on their hands; they have a sales team who have sales-fear and this can and must be directly addressed NOW.
If you want to grab your own sales-fear by the horns and tame it, here’s seven ideas you can implement immediately:
- We fear what we can’t see. We fear the unknown. We fear what we don’t understand. (I’m pretty sure I got one of these from a Batman movie). So what’s the obvious remedy?
Well, why not make what you can’t see somehow ‘seen’. Make the unknown ‘known’. Make what you don’t understand ‘understood’. Makes sense? How? Learning. Learning increases your chances. Asking questions, finding answers, obtaining facts (not opinions) and studying anything you fear in life should reduce that fear. I used this technique myself to overcome my fear of sharks when living in Australia. I learned what I could about them and ended up becoming comfortable enough to go diving with them! (Took me ages to wrestle the diving masks on to them though).
Learning more about sales and alternative approaches and how to handle each and every situation you face reduces fear significantly. There’s an argument for continuously self-directing our sales learning and performance. It creates confidence, energy, movement, and rewarding results.
- Get your intent right from the start. Often we fear being the person we don’t want to be. Well, er, don’t be that person. There’s a solution for you. Be the person you want to be and determine how to help people buy accordingly. A statement of intent is a useful starting point where you write down (read those last two words again, the act of writing it nails this way more than just thinking it) a statement that explains what your intention is when talking to customers.
My intention is to spend 30 minutes with you to explore if and where I might be able to add some value to what you’re doing and your business. I’ll need to learn more about your business objectives first with a few questions. If after that point we think it’s worth talking further, we will. If not, I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction and we can gracefully part company. And I’ll always be here if you know of anyone else who needs my help.
Great. I feel good about that and now my actions will point towards it.
Feel free to write your own statement of intent into the comments section below. It might tell us what you actually do too, so there’s some natural exposure.
- Determine what specifically you’re uncomfortable with vs what you are comfortable enough to do. Then get the wheels turning doing what you’re comfortable enough to do. Hey, look at you! You’re selling! You can work on the rest later. Interestingly, point ‘C’ often looks very different when viewing it from point ‘B’ compared to viewing it from point ‘A’. In other words, fear can diminish once you’ve gone down the path a little first. Getting started is often the challenge. Check out this post about how one lady I worked with went from total sales inactivity to adding more value to her customers.
- Realise that what we tend to get better at in life, we tend to enjoy more. And whatever we tend to enjoy more, we tend to naturally get better at. Great! You can jump into that positive cycle then by simply getting better at something. Get some new ideas. Try something new. Read some recommended books. Learn to do it more effectively, and you enjoy it more. Now you’re on the escalator as you’ll naturally get better still. No more fear. Simple. (But make sure you create a ‘learning plan’ because there’s a way that works and any more ways that don’t when it comes to learning.)
- Align your self-identity with helping people to buy.
Draw up two columns.
In the left hand column, complete the sentence “I am someone who….” as many times over as you can. You might write, “I am someone who…is helpful, is smart, likes to solve problems, is friendly, cares, is logical, can add a lot of value, likes to learn” etc.
In the right column write down how people generally want to be helped to make the right buying decision. Consider not only yourself as a buyer, but other people too with other buying styles different to your own (eg some people like to think it over and research options whereas some people genuinely prefer to decide quickly and make the purchase to get the job done and dusted).
Now, connect the dots. What have you written on the left that can help you achieve any of those things on the right? Join them up and jot down some thoughts. Turn these into ‘useful thinking’ statements: (Click the link).
Useful Vs Unuseful Sales Thinking
This approach reminds you and reinforces that your own natural ways can help you do this well.
- Take a small step into it. Put what you’ve learned into action. Still uncomfortable? Reduce the size of the step until it’s comfortable enough to step into, or revisit the previous points.
- Remember there’s always other ways to approach things. Get specific about what you fear, and generate alternatives. Sales coaching (done correctly!) can be great for this. As can getting together in a room and workshopping and sharing ideas. You should always make it your job to have an opportunity scheduled in to do that frequently.
And remember too, not only is there another way to do it, there’s usually a better way to do it too, if you can find it! (“There’s a way to do it better – find it!” – Thomas Edison).
The worst thing you can do as a sales manager or non-sales person is live with that sales-fear and try to ignore it. It is already eating away at your bottom line. If you want help to create a solution that works for your non-sales sales team to tackle sales-fear, please get in touch.