What Is Fear?
But first of all what is fear? One great definition I have heard is that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.
That really sums up what fear is - our mind has gathered all this evidence to back up our inner doubts.
This evidence is usually false but to our conscious mind it appears real and so translates into fear!
At the end of the day, our fears are just thoughts and that's it!
When our fears grab hold of us we find every excuse under the sun not to do something.
We'll put off speaking to someone on the phone, going to a meeting or joining a networking group.
We can even let our fears hold us back from spending money.
What if this course I'm looking into doesn't help?
Can I really afford to pay for this education right now?
How do I know it will help my business?
Other fearful thoughts you may be having could be:
I'll call back later...
It's too early/lunch time/too late
I won't approach them now; they dont look in a good mood!
I have a feeling that it's not the right time to get in touch - maybe I'll try next week.
With these blocks getting in the way, your business will never take off.
This is why you have to conquer those fears. But what are our main fears when it comes to selling and how can you overcome them?
You have set up your business, got all your stationery printed, the premises and office are sorted and now you have to get out there and sell!
Suddenly you break into a cold sweat, but you persevere, pick up the phone or approach your first customer...
...and it all goes horribly wrong!
The fear of selling is something which most first time business owners suffer from.
Selling is not something we are taught in school or shown by our parents (unless you are immersed in business from an earlier age!) and so the whole process is alien to us.
In this article we are going to look at exactly why we have this fear of selling and what you can do to overcome it.
Fear of failure
Undoubtedly top of the list for any first time (and some experienced sales people!) is the fear of failure.
We never like to fail, especially in a success-oriented environment. When we do, it makes the task even harder next time round.
In school we are taught to fear failure (remember all those tests when the results were read out for all the class to hear?) and this stays with us in our adult life.
But, don't be like Homer Simpson when he tried to console his son Bart who had failed in his bid to be class president:
"You tried and you failed. The lesson is never try."
So, what can you do to conquer your fear of failure?
The bottom line is that you need a rock solid positive attitude. You must have an inner voice which is continually pushing you onto the next prospect and saying "Come on, let's find the one whos going to say yes!"
Failure has to be seen as a learning opportunity. In every failure, there is a nugget of information, which next time, can point you in the direction of better success. James Dyson, the inventor of the revolutionary vacuum cleaner, summed up the need for a positive attitude, when he said, "Success is made up of 99% failure. You galvanise yourself and you keep going as a full optimist."
We all have the image of a successful salesperson self confident, well dressed, good communicator, knowledgeable.
We are our own worst critic and we quickly see the supposed flaws in our characters, which are either not there, or are so small that most people cannot detect them.
Yet we allow our poor self image to drag us down.
We convince ourselves that we cannot sell. Unless you are confident about your own ability to sell then the task is twice as hard.
Remember that you are not born with confidence it's something you learn!
Not everyone has boundless self-confidence. When you start out in business, there is sometimes a nagging doubt that you may have bitten off more than you can chew.
This inner doubt chips away at your self confidence and soon you have a poor self image, which reflects in your sales pitch.
To be successful in business you have to have a strong self image.
Tips on improving your self image:
-> Write down the qualities which you believe a successful salesperson should possess. Try and limit the list to 4 or 5 key qualities
-> Find a quiet spot and relax your body and mind with deep and steady breathing
-> Once you are totally relaxed, recite the strong, self image qualities you identified earlier
-> Imagine or visualise yourself possessing each of these qualities. See in your minds eye how you look, now that you have these qualities. See how successful you are, how you look, the car you are driving and where you are living
-> Repeat to yourself that you are assuming each of these qualities and becoming a better person with each day that passes
Repeat this exercise first thing in the morning and last thing at night and you'll soon find your self image and confidence levels increasing!
Fear of Rejection
No one likes to hear the word No!
The fear of rejection is another major stumbling block some people have to overcome when selling. Sometimes the fear of rejection is so big that their whole sales presentation is overshadowed.
Their subconscious is saying "Why are you even bothering? You know they are going to say no!"
The presentation gets even worse; words are mumbled and product features are forgotten. The result? They get a no!
Hearing a 'no' is not a great motivator!
Or is it...?!
The main way to deal with rejection is just to accept that it sometimes happens!
However, getting a 'no' can teach you valuable lessons if you are willing to listen to them.
Go over exactly what happened, step by step.
Questions to ask yourself are:
- Did you understand fully what your client needed?
- Did you listen to their problems and reasons?
- At what point in the conversation do you think things shifted?
- If you could have the conversation again, what would you say or do differently?
- Was it really a rejection? Or was it just a 'no'? That's not the same thing!
Perhaps there were objections that you could have helped with. One of my favourite sayings is this:
Product Knowledge Fears
Successful selling can only be achieved if you know your product or service inside out.
If you dont know all the features and benefits how can you ever hope to persuade someone that your product can solve their problem?
You may have had one bad experience where a customer highlighted your lack of knowledge but for some reason you have not put it right. Your subconscious continues to recognise this weakness and does what it can to sabotage you over and over again!
Remember a fear is just a thought, it's not the truth.
A lack of in-depth knowledge about your product or service quickly finds its way to making for poor conversion rates.
There is only one solution and that's to get learning!
Absorb yourself in the product. Understand all the features and benefits, so that you can confidently talk about all aspects of your offering. Banishing this fear is one of the easy ones to put right.
Fear of Criticism
No one likes being criticised for what they do!
We may do something to the best of our ability but our self confidence soon disappears when someone criticises our selling style or product.
This links in with the fear of a poor self image. If you have a low self image then criticism can hurt even more. On the other hand, people with a high self image can usually bounce back from a critical comment.
If you carry out the exercises on improving your self-image, your ability to take criticism will also improve.
Decide to view criticism more as feedback than a direct attack on you. There is usually some element of truth in the majority of critical comments.
Read the following quote out loud a couple of times:
Next time somebody says something to you that hurts, repeat it to yourself. Why did what they say hurt me? Go deeper here than the usual 'because they are just horrible' or 'well they don't know what they are talking about!'
Really think about the statement and why it hurt you. I bet you'll find there was an element of truth in it somewhere.
To become a better business owner, to really build a successful and profitable business, you have to work on yourself first. It's important that you take the opportunity to learn and change.
You may be aware that your presentation skills leave a lot to be desired!
Don't think you do presentations? Think again!
Every time you tell someone what you do, you are presenting to them!
Your pitch may be all over the place and lack any real structure, resulting in an inability to get the customer to commit. A lack of confidence quickly shows up and the customer walks off with his wallet firmly in his pocket.
This fear all boils down to lack of training. If you can spot this weakness or fear, then you are halfway there. Many sales people don't even know they have a training problem!
Your presentation fear can be down to a lack of structure around your sales process.
So how do you fix this?
Write a basic outline on how you wish a perfect sales pitch to go. Prepare a script for the key parts of the presentation and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Why not ask someone to help you role-play a sales presentation, 60 second pitch or introduction?
This will give you the opportunity to make all the mistakes you want but in a risk-free environment!
Grab all the training you can in sales, pitching self confidence and value. Work on yourself first and foremost an you'll find that many of your fears and blocks are overcome. Or at the very least, you understand them better and can work your way through them.
All of these actions will assist in improving your confidence and result in a more professional sales presentation.
Selling does not have to be a fearful experience! If you have the right attitude, a strong self belief, a full understanding of your product or service and plenty of practice, then you will have nothing to fear!
So, take a look at each of these fears and put a plan in place to tackle them today!
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