Why Fear Is Holding Back Your Sales Performance and Your Gut is the Answer

Author: 
Tony Hughes

When I sell, there's usually something nagging at my conscience that I'm avoiding. I start the day and there's someone I'm afraid to call. Maybe the timing isn't right or they're too senior. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, becomes didn't.

Yes, I'm human. But to transcend, I use fear as a guide that points me to what I should do next.

Repetition is the mother of skill, but it also gives us another profound gift which is the development of 'gut instinct.' Trust your gut.

We don't really see gut instinct discussed in many books or blogs because it's our inner dialog, our inner voice and world.

Jack Canfield used to say, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Another one was, "FEAR: future events appearing real."

When you sit down at work tomorrow, do not check your email. Write down what you are most afraid to do instead. Maybe it is a demon you need to face. Most likely you're procrastinating, over thinking, or trying to be too perfect.

Now, take action!

That's really the secret – my gut talks to me throughout the day, an inner voice I trust. It leads me through the deal. I play out 50 chess moves and stay a dozen moves ahead. When the voice is nagging at me or I'm fearful of something, it's probably something I really need to do.

When you look at the company, who intimidates you that could sign? Start there. Call them first. Call and have a conversation. The likelihood they delegate you or you get their executive assistant is 99 percent.

Put up pricing that is awe inspiring and value based. Don't cave. Be principled in your negotiation.

So what are you afraid of most? Is it your success? Ruffling feathers? Do you think you can hunt for new business and win without stepping on any toes? To make a great omelet you've just gotta break eggs.

An Experiment

Next time you prospect a company, add a board member. Just add them on LinkedIn. Once they add you back, write them a three-sentence message thanking them and mentioning you'd like to have a quick chat about their thoughts on XYZ.

You will be absolutely shocked how few people ever talk to board members, VCs, CEOs (yes, there still aren’t many on LinkedIn), COOs or CFOs. Yet these folks always get drawn in at the 11th hour to rubber stamp your deal.

A couple of pithy quotes come to mind that are super relevant to this post.

"Be independent of the good opinion of other people." – Abraham Maslow

“The fishing is best where the fewest go and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone is aiming for base hits.” – Tim Ferriss

Your inner voice will seldom lie and always knows where to take you. Your compass or North Star will be there when you move from selling, to making money, to serving other people.

Back your inner voice and overcome your fears.

How To Overcome the 7 Things Sellers Fear Most

1. You are not in client services. You are not going to close an entire enterprise deal without a roller coaster of a decision maker, trial by fire in a committee, group think, emotion or crisis mode. They will RFP and reverse auction to squeeze you every time. Who doesn't drive a hard bargain? Don't you!

2. Of course you're afraid to dial the CFO. He can torpedo the account, the opportunity, and pull it off the forecast. Relish this. Live in reality, not delusion. Qualify out - it's OK. Live in truth.

3. Your presentation doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, if you are speaking more than 20% of the time while on-site you are only shooting your close rate in the foot. They will know you by the quality of your SPIN questions and listening.

4. If you're not a team player, management will fire you. Nope. Pipeline cures all ills and top revenue producers are untouchable!

5. What if I burn out? Burn to shine and you'll never burn out. The harder you push every minute of the job, the faster the time will fly. Burnout is a myth as is work-life balance. When you're at work, prospect incessantly. Communicate with current opportunities, warm leads, and drive on into the dark stormy night fearlessly with your fog lights on to slay the dragons of the unknown.

6. Calling one more time. Calling too many times as to be improper. Calling over someone's head. Why fear any of these?

7. Pushing back. And the greatest fear of all in sales that separates the titans from the also rans: walking on the deal. You MUST be willing to walk on every deal. Especially after six months of the dance and in the 11th hour with everything riding on it. Always and only negotiate from a position of strength and never let them see you sweat or walk on you!

I don't know what else to tell you. This sales thing violates a lot of psychology. We humans are fearful, sensitive creatures that fear the dark, the unknown and disappointing each other. We relish conformity, abhor rejection and seek the comfort of cliques. This is why I am beginning to think the lone wolf isn’t the worst analogy. It travels in packs but gets the hunting done. I'm not saying to be a wolf, but at least unleash the wolf in you: the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Never fear what you will lose. Fear instead only, the opportunity cost of not giving every moment of your sales day and life your absolute all!

As you sell... What do you fear? Where does your gut instinct take you? What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

Tony Hughes is a bestselling author, award-winning blogger and the most read LinkedIn author globally on the topic of B2B sales leadership. Tony’s most recent book is “Combo Prospecting.” He can be found at TonyHughes.com.au and RSVPselling.com.