Overcoming Your Sales Fears

Fear is an occupational hazard in the sales business. It’s an obstacle most of us face, especially early on. The good news is, it can be overcome. Below are some common fears, along with methods for kicking the Boogieman all the way back to wherever he lives when he’s not taking up space in your head.

Of course there’s no such thing as a perfect close rate. Rejection is inevitable. Instead of letting it horrify you—even make you feel bad about yourself—conduct postmortems of your no-go deals to see what went wrong. Drilling down to why will help you refine your presentation approach or both.

So you didn’t make the deal—don’t let shame, shyness, or resentment stop you from reaching out to the prospect for a post-rejection convo about why they chose not to go with you. Not to Pollyanna you too much, but rejection can be a great thing if it leads you to realize the adjustments you’ll need to implement during your sales interactions.

Am I Being That Way?
We all know firsthand—or at least from the movies—what obnoxious sales maneuvers look like: manipulative tactics, overly aggressive or fear-mongering closing lines, the wrong tone of voice, etc. Remember: Just asking for business doesn’t make you pushy. Customers understand that point in the sales arc where you ask them to make a commitment. Channel your fear energy into positivity by focusing on effectively identifying potential problems and presenting your solution in a way that resonates with your prospect. Address any concerns and/or fears the customer may have.

UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objections)
OK, so your prospect raises an objection or two. Aliens aren’t going to attack. Objections, like rejections, are to be expected. Get ahead of them by anticipating them and plan before the objections arise. On your part, that bodes well for your diligence and will ensure you are not caught off-guard when the objection is delivered. An objection is always preferable to leaving the bargaining table with no clue why the prospect didn’t buy.

Here’s the bright side of the moon: When a prospect raises a real objection, it actually signals an interest in buying.

Timing It Wrong
Fear of timing can take down a deal in the making. Inexperienced salespeople don’t always know when the time is right to ask for business. So what do they do? They wait. Tick. Tick. Tick. Sometimes too long. Then—dang!—they miss out. Sure, there’s a danger in asking too early, but don’t wait too long. When you know your prospect agrees that your products and services will solve their need, put your toe in the water by getting a commitment from them. This is a preliminary “yes,” based on the prospect’s understanding of your ability to solutionize for them; it’s also a commitment from them to move the process forward—toward the big ask.

Being Awkward
If you’re new to sales, you might feel awkward, inadequate, or inarticulate during the sales process. Same is true for those who’ve just started their own small business. It’s natural to feel that way. Feeling comfortable delivering selling lines takes practice; at first they may feel wonky coming out of your mouth. Reading from a script might make you feel like a robot. From using proper phone etiquette to making more nuanced replies to raised objections, practice what you’ll say. All you need sometimes is a banana “phone” and a tape recorder. It sounds simple, but verbal rehearsal is one of the most effective ways to relax your inner robot. The key is becoming comfortable with a variety of lines, phrases, statements, and questions that you feel natural using, and then practicing them until they flow smoothly from your brain to your mouth.

We could go highbrow and quote FDR—“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”—or just paraphrase the closing bartender: “Hey, fear, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”