A common enemy every salesperson has is fear. When fear takes hold, what seems rational can become irrational, and what should be common sense does not seem to be as logical as you would expect. Fear can destroy confidence, create doubt, and snatch joy from life. Fear has many names, can be invisible, holds no prejudice, and has many allies that work in tandem with it. But what if you identify it, call it out, and use it for positive gain?
How Salespeople Develop FearThe fear of selling and fear of rejection among salespeople can occur in response to unforeseen situations during the process of closing the sale. For instance, it can occur when they experience rejection or cancelling by a high-profile client. It can also happen in anticipation or expectation of future challenges, such as explaining to leadership that significant potential customers are not renewing a product or service. These pose a threat to the opportunity for a promotion or financial bonus. Fear is an emotional response induced by any perceived danger or threat. The reaction to fear can cause physical changes that lead to adverse behavioural changes. In extreme cases, the impact of fear can lead to a loss of control or an inability to think logically. When you’re afraid, even activities that are part of life in the sales field, like cold calling, sales pitches or listening to customers, can become problems that take weeks to solve. This causes even effective salespeople to doubt themselves. As internal coping mechanisms kick in, their minds continue to be clouded with uncertainty, and the decision-making process becomes compromised as they look for a way out. The multitude of variables to consider in conducting these activities is challenging. No manual can determine which sales rep, irrespective of experience, will be impacted by which stimulus and how the effect will manifest itself. The reaction will be unique to everyone, based on their beliefs, past experiences, expectations, and value systems.
What Is the Solution?
As a starting point, each sales manager and leader must do more to address the stigma attached to dealing with and talking about fear, anxiety, worry, apprehension, panic, and distress. Leaders should recognise the negative influence fear has on a situation while encouraging individuals to talk to a colleague, manager, or friend or seek medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This is a great first step. The ‘ fight or flight ’ response needs to also be addressed. With the proper acknowledgement and support, you’ll help salespeople fuel the fighting response. With this, they can address and overcome the fear that prevents a rational approach and diminishes the crippling ‘flight’ (run away or head in the sand) response. Facing your fear directly is not always the best option. First of all, it is necessary to prepare your physical and mental health for this. According to reliable medical reviewers, it has been proven that exercise, maintaining health, and numerous complementary therapies (like mindfulness, yoga, and meditation) can help control and manage the effects of fear or the feeling of stress. The perception of and cultural acceptance around these topics need to be assessed, reviewed, and evaluated with the belief they deserve. All fears, be they personal or work-related, should be openly discussed without judgement and the appropriate therapy applied that works for everyone. A well-structured sales training and onboarding process can increase self-confidence while reducing a salesperson’s stress. This, in turn, can help overcome potential fear stalemates before they happen. If the salesperson is prepared to overcome potential negative scenarios with their sales skills, they can see challenging situations as exceptional and stand firm against them.