The first step to overcoming a fear of selling is identifying the cause. Usually, there's at least one specific aspect of the job that triggers unpleasant feelings.
Think about each step of the sales process: prospecting or lead generation, setting appointments (both cold calling and following up on warm leads), qualifying prospects, making presentations, handling objections, closing the sale, and asking for referrals.
Rank these stages in the order in which they bother you, from worst to best. Next, review the list below to find out how you can feel less anxious during the stages that affect you the most.
Prospecting or Lead Generation
Fear in this stage usually stems from one of two causes:
- You have trouble finding leads, and thus prospecting makes you anxious because you worry about not being able to find potential customers.
- You end up with thousands of leads, in which case you're overwhelmed by the thought of dealing with them all.
In either case, you can address the problem by fixing or getting help with your lead generation process. If you can't find enough leads, try enlisting a marketing agency that does it for you or provides some assistance.
In the second case, you're probably pulling leads that aren't really good matches for your product or service. Your problem isn't necessarily in the generation; it's in qualification. Again, you can hire an agency to help make sure you're going after and getting qualified leads.
If you decide to hire an agency to help you find qualified leads, then make sure it's not a scam. Look for a reputable lead-generation agency that does not sell "junk leads" containing false or inaccurate information.
If qualifying makes you nervous, you're probably viewing it as an intrusion—asking strangers fairly personal questions so that you can determine if they're potential customers. In that case, shifting your mindset about the situation can help. You're not intruding by getting in touch and asking questions. Instead, you're giving prospects an opportunity to find out about a fantastic product or service. After all, if you didn't believe what you're selling is terrific, then you probably wouldn't be selling it. When you qualify prospects, think of yourself as an expert—like a doctor or lawyer—who is assessing the prospect's needs and finding a solution for her problem.
Even experienced salespeople occasionally get sweaty palms before a round of cold calling. Picking up the phone or showing up and talking to complete strangers isn't easy because it triggers fundamental anxiety—fear of rejection. If you look at every "no" as an opportunity to get a "yes," then suddenly the process doesn't seem so intimidating.
In addition, fixing your lead generation and qualification processes will also have a positive effect on the next step of setting up sales appointments. If you're getting qualified leads that have shown interest in the service or product you're selling, also known as warm leads, then the appointment-setting process happens naturally.
It's not easy to stand up in front of an audience, even an audience of one. When your presentation happens in front of a whole crowd of businesspeople, all of whom have their game faces on, it can feel like a pretty frightening idea.
The easiest way to get a handle on this fear is to do your homework. If you're fully prepared and have a great presentation ready, and you've rehearsed it until it sounds perfect, you'll feel much safer.
Another option is to join a local Toastmasters Club. This organization hosts meetings aimed at helping you build your confidence for public speaking and generally improving your leadership and communication skills.
Making an effective sales presentation starts with creating one. Follow these seven tips for creating a successful sales presentation:
- Make the presentation relevant.
- Create a connection between your product/service and the prospect.
- Get to the point.
- Be animated.
- Use showmanship.
- Use a physical demonstration.
- Believe in your product/service.
Often it's not actually answering objections that unnerve sellers. Instead, it's the fear of the "what ifs" you feel before an appointment: What if the prospect comes up with something you've never thought of? What if they're right? What if your mind goes blank and they think you're an idiot?
There will probably be some appointments where these kinds of scenarios will play out. However, the good news is that the more appointments you keep, the less likely you are to run into trouble. Over time, you'll hear many different objections, and you'll work out good responses to each one.
If you do hear an objection that you can't answer, you can always stall for time. Make up a delaying response like, “Mr. Jones, that's an excellent point. I want to address that concern fully, but I don't have all the information I need with me. May I email it to you later today?”
Having a set process for handling sales objections is key to building confidence in this area. Follow the six steps for handling objections to turn each "no" into an opportunity:
- Listen to an objection before handling it.
- Repeat the objection back to the customer.
- Explore the customer's reasoning.
- Answer the objection.
- Check back with the prospect.
- Redirect the conversation.
Closing the Sale
The close is the moment of truth, where you find out whether or not your hard work is about to pay off. This, of course, can come with some pressure and anxiety. One way to ease this pressure is to have a few simple closing phrases in mind so that you can be prepared at the right moment.
There are at least as many ways to close a sale as there are salespeople, but it doesn't need to be complicated. All you need to do is ask for the sale in a way that's comfortable for you and appropriate for the situation.
Ways to Ask for the Sale
Ask these questions to close the deal:
- Are you ready to move forward?
- It seems like this is a good fit for you. What do you think?
- Will you commit to doing business with us today?
- Have I done enough to earn your business?
- Is there anything preventing you from agreeing to committing today?
Asking for Referrals
Many new salespeople skip this step entirely because they're uncomfortable doing it. That's unfortunate since salespeople are four times more likely to close a sale with a referred lead compared to a cold lead, according to research from Nielsen.
Usually, if a prospect is happy enough to buy from you, they're happy to tell you about other people who can benefit from having your product or service. Until you get comfortable asking for referrals, you can use a set script or email template.
New to referrals? Start by using a script to ask for referrals and you'll be on your way to getting warm leads in no time.