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How Much is Fear Effecting Your Selling Conversations?

I’m thoroughly enjoying the book, Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Kalso and Randy Illig. The authors not only provide an easy to implement methodology but they address what we as sales people need to do to get and keep things real. So what is getting real? At the core of “getting real,” is honesty. This includes honest communication between a seller and a buyer during selling conversations as well as being honest with our self. Honest communication is not only about what we say, it also includes what we’re not saying. When our intentions are in service of our buyers and we are transparent and honest in our communication, we make room for the buyer to be completely honest with us. The four-letter word that prevents us from reaching this honest place during selling conversations or managing people is FEAR.

If we’re honest, we’d all admit that fears show up in our mind. You might label them as worry, concerns or anxiousness. No matter what you choose to call this state of mind, it’s something to be dealt with if we want to be our best at leading others or making sales. Some of you might be afraid to admit you have a fear, which is a fear in itself. Keep reading.

Of course it’s not a new topic but it’s one not spoken of frequently related to selling and leading. After all we’re supposed to be the confident people that can conquer anything. We’ve signed on to take the hits and keep on trucking. So why don’t we call that person, work that bigger deal or feel more confident in certain situations? Why is it we know what to say with some people but fumble around with others or don’t say what is on our mind? Why do we get angry or assertive when things don’t go our way or when we feel like we’re losing control? Of course you just might not be prepared for that big deal or to call that big wig, but why not? What are you afraid of? What’s going on is we are reacting or responding based on our fears. Fears of what people might think or do.

We usually respond in one of two ways with our fears. We either assert ourselves to take control or we retreat to protect. A sales person who fears losing control can’t stop pestering his prospects in fear that they might buy from someone else. A salesperson that retreats in fear might not follow up in fear of being a pest, or hearing a NO. In either situation it’s a fear that’s driving the behavior, not truth.

For those of you managing sales teams, fear often shows up when poor performance needs to be addressed. It might be the fear of hurting someone’s feelings, making their performance worse, or watching them leave when you didn’t want that. So rather than supporting that person by being honest with the situation and providing them a choice to improve, the situation is often ignored until we have no choice but to let them go, or display our frustration rather than communicating effectively.

Making choices or behaving based on fear does not help us have honest communication or produce our best path to our desired result.

In my twenties I was taught we get what we fear, and though I resisted it for many years I have come to believe in it’s truth. Of course we don’t always get what we fear but what I’ve come to learn is I tend to behave in ways that lead to my feared outcomes. The irony is that while I respond, react and behave to prevent my fears I am actually contributing to their outcomes.

If you’re still not sure if you have fears while selling or communicating see if anything on the list below rings a bell.

The fear of:

• Hearing no • Letting the family down
• Looking foolish in the buyers eyes • Hurting someone’s feelings
• Looking ignorant • Getting fired
• Being pushy • Performing poorly
• Failing • Doing something wrong
• Losing a deal • Not being accepted
• Being out of control • Not being liked
• Letting the team down

Acting out of calm and truth rather than fear can sky rocket your sales and management effectiveness. It will take some work; it’s not just a one-time choice to change. Here is what has helped me to stop acting on fears and being more transparent and honest with my self and others.

1. Trust your feelings. When we are afraid we will usually feel it through anxiety. Our thoughts will justify our fears so get in tune with that feeling of unease and recognize you might have a fear at play.
2. Identify the fear. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” or “What am I afraid might happen?” The list above might help you get started.
3. Be willing to accept the outcome you fear. This does not mean you are now hoping for this outcome, but you need to accept it as a possible reality and come to terms with it being okay. If it’s not okay it will stay a fear for you to resist.
4. Ask yourself what needs to be done or said next, that supports your buyer or employee’s goals. You are now making a new choice of action that is not associated with your fear. When you do decide on a new course of action be aware that the fear might return. Go back to step three before taking action.
5. Act or communicate without fear. Make the call you were afraid to make. Say what you have been afraid to say in front of your prospect. Get started on a bigger deal.

You will find a greater confidence and honesty when you act without fear. We can all walk a balance beam that is on the floor much better and without fear than one that’s ten feet off the ground with fear.  It’s the same size beam, but two different sets of thoughts. We behave and perform better without fear. When you can manage the fears that show up in your mind you can be your best self. When you are your best self, you will start building evidence to dispel your fears. Lastly, when you begin acting without fear your employees and customers will appreciate you even more than they do today.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

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