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 the joy from life. Fear has many names, can be invisible, holds no prejudice, and has lots of allies that work in tandem to self-sabotage. But what if you identify it, call it out and use it for positive gain?
A fear of selling and rejection within salespeople can occur in response to certain unforeseen situations developing – for instance, a high-profile client cancelling. It can also occur in anticipation or expectation of future challenges, such as having to explain to the leadership that the biggest client is cancelling, and the threat these in turn pose 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 subsequently lead to adverse behavioural changes. In extreme cases, the impact of fear can lead to a loss of control or an inability to think in a logical and rational way.
There is no manual that can determine which salesperson, irrespective of experience, will be impacted by which stimulus and how the effect will manifest itself. The multitude of variables to consider make this an incredibly difficult activity. The reaction will be unique to everyone, based on their beliefs, past experiences, expectations, and value system.
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.
What is the solution? As a starting point, each sales manager and leader must do more to address the stigma that is attached to both dealing with and talking about fear, or, as it is sometimes exhibited, anxiety, worry, apprehension, panic, distress, etc. Recognition of the negative influence fear has on a situation, while encouraging individuals to be brave and have the courage to talk to a colleague, manager, or friend to seek help, is a step in the right direction. It is the ‘fight or flight’ response that needs to be addressed. With the right acknowledgement and support, you’ll help salespeople to fuel the fighting response to address and overcome the fear that is preventing a rational approach, and diminish the crippling ‘flight’ (run away or head in the sand) response.
Furthermore, it has been proven that exercise, maintaining health and numerous complementary therapies (like mindfulness, yoga, and meditation) can help to control and manage the effects of fear or the feeling of stress that it induces.
The perception of and cultural acceptance around these topics need to be assessed, reviewed, and evaluated with the credence 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.
Creating this open, non-judgemental environment can and will lead to improved performance, greater loyalty, and a shift in mindset. If we want to change the perception of our industry, then we must transform our approach and act in a kinder and more compassionate manner that will make our people proud.
My final thought is that it is almost 20 years since Ian Brown released the iconic song “F.E.A.R.”. He wrote ‘Fantastic Expectations, Amazing Revelations’. So, next time you are talking to your salesperson, uncover their FEAR and together Form Encouraging Accepting Resolve.
Gain valuable insight into what makes you tick and how to enhance your ability. Take our quick Skills Scan.