How Frequently Does Fear Play a Part in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 06, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

fear eraseOne of the many things that holds salespeople back, prevents them from reaching their potential, stops them from crashing through quotas, doesn't allow them to exceed expectations and never has them succeeding beyond everyone's wildest dreams is their fear of failing.

Fear of failing doesn't affect everyone that sells. The elite 6% are certainly immune to it, and most of the next 20% aren't affected too much by it either.  But the remaining 74% - the group that basically sucks - battles the fear of failing on a daily basis.

That fear - and most salespeople aren't even consciously aware of it - prevents them from:

  • Making prospecting calls,
  • Making enough prospecting calls,
  • Getting through to decision makers,
  • Pushing back on put-offs,
  • Challenging a prospect's thinking, plan, or position,
  • Asking tough questions,
  • Having the difficult conversation,
  • Talking about finances,
  • Qualifying,
  • Asking about competition,
  • Getting past happy ears,
  • Closing,
  • Dealing with objections,
  • And more...

Here are some symptoms that you might be able to recognize:

  • When salespeople have good intentions, but lousy follow through,
  • When salespeople have good plans, but poor time management,
  • When salespeople have plenty of time, but a tendency to procrastinate,
  • When salespeople are regularly unable to reach closure on their opportunities,
  • When salespeople have a need to rationalize what they did and didn't do,
...chances are they have just experienced a bout of fear of failing.

The ironic thing is that you simply can't fail. The only failures possible in selling are:

  • The failure to act,
  • The failure to express yourself,
  • The failure to ask good questions,
  • The failure to state your business,
  • The failure to aggressively chase your dreams,
  • The failure to do everything in your power to succeed,
  • The failure to be proactive,
  • The failure to allow yourself to succeed,
  • The failure to think positively,
  • The failure to sell ethically,
  • The failure to grow and improve,
  • The failure to practice,
  • The failure to ask for help, and
  • The failure to follow your sales process.

I am certain there are more - many more - but you get the gist...

It's the fear itself that causes failure, not the actual act of doing.  The paralysis from the fear causes failure, not the act of engaging.

Qualifying is one of the things that salespeople fear quite a bit.  Qualifying involves asking questions that could yield responses they don't want to hear.  Instead, they have happy ears.  We know how important qualifying is and Pete Caputa, Sales & Marketing VP at Hubspot, proves that qualifying improves closing percentages with the metrics data that he included in this recent post.  

My regular readers and clients will notice that qualifying occurs rather early in Hubspot's sequence.  I didn't send you to that article to modify your sales process; only to embrace the power of qualification.  Please continue to qualify between 2nd and 3rd base!

Sales Managers should review that qualifying data and make sure that their own salespeople are qualifying thoroughly, qualifying when they should, and qualifying every sales opportunity. 

As a matter of fact, Sales Managers should be making final plans to attend my Sales Leadership Intensive, being held at the Westin Copley Hotel in Boston on November 14-15.   We still have a few seats left, so don't be afraid, there is nothing to fear, and join us for two amazing days where you will learn to be more awesome at coaching, motivating and leading salespeople than you ever thought possible.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, sales management training, fear of failure

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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