Guest post by Brad Shorr
This is Part III in a four part guest series by Brad Shorr. Don’t miss the final post tomorrow.
Fear #2 – Fear of Appearing Stupid
Do you enjoy feeling like an idiot? Being caught off guard by a question you haven’t a clue how to answer? Stumbling over your words like a hapless rookie? Few people care to look foolish, yet inevitably we do from time to time when we sell. Unfortunately I don’t have any smart pills, but I can tell you a few things to help you overcome this fear.
First, prospects do not expect you to have all the answers. They only expect you to get all the answers. If you wait to sell until you have mastered all the facts and planned for every contingency, you will never begin. Every sales person in the world is missing some piece of information that might trip them up. You are not alone!
Second, prospects are people. Most all of them want to see you succeed, not fail. What happens when you are listening to a speaker who is struggling and completely off his game? If you are like me, you feel his pain and root for him to recover. That is how prospects will feel about you when you stumble.
Third, any prospect who doesn’t feel your pain, who roots for you to fail instead of succeed, is not a prospect in any meaningful sense of the word. You cannot build sales relationships with people who do not value them.
Fear #3– Fear of Disagreement
Some people thrive on controversy – if you do not believe me, spend a few hours watching cable news programs or reality shows and you will quickly be convinced. However, for us non-sellers, disagreement is disagreeable. I think because of that, we tend to be poor polemicists and go to extremes to avoid arguments. However, when we begin selling, we begin a dialog, and sometimes that dialog escalates into an argument. Now, when I find myself in an argument, my natural reaction is to do one of three things – back off, become overly hostile, or stammer incoherently. Since none of these reactions is conducive to effective selling, I’ve had to learn how to overcome my normal tendencies. If you are like me, these thoughts may help you handle being thrust into an argument.
First – and this holds true for every aspect of selling – put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. Even if what you are hearing sounds irrelevant or irrational, bear in mind what lies behind the prospect’s words are more than likely perfectly relevant and rational concerns. By focusing on the concerns rather than the words, your conversation will reduce tension rather than heighten it.
Second, spirited conversation around your offering is not all bad. They say the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. When I sold packaging materials I learned just how true that saying is. Brown boxes, by nature, were not very inspiring to sell – or buy. Most prospects could not have cared less about my brown boxes. So, when a buyer started arguing with me about my price or my quality or whatever – I got excited. Finally, I thought, someone who cares! Argument can be a sign of interest.
Third, listen! Diligent listening is arguably the most important skill a seller can possess. Often, the prospect or customer is more interested in blowing off steam or asserting authority than in actually engaging in debate. In such cases, the most constructive action you can take is to be quiet. Many an argument can be avoided entirely simply by resisting the temptation to respond.
Have you ever been tongue tied by the fear of looking stupid to a prospect? Has the fear of disagreement kept you from selling success? Don’t let fear keep you from commenting. 🙂
Brad is a sales and marketing consultant who lives near Chicago, Illinois. His company, Word Sell, Inc., provides strategic consulting, sales training and coaching, and business blog and other online marketing services. Brad is a prolific reader and writer who is masterful at communicating even complex subjects with warth and humor.