You're Afraid to Sell Because You Think There is Hope

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 07:11 AM

bandofbrothers

It may have been in episode 4 or 5, in season 1.  It was definitely in the HBO series Band of Brothers.  Thanks Chris, for recommending it.  I can't believe I'm a decade late watching this!

A soldier was telling an officer that after the drop into Normandy, he simply hid in a ditch.  The officer asked if he knew why and he replied, "Because I was scared!"  The officer said, "You were scared because you thought there was hope.  The sooner you can accept that you're already dead, the sooner you can function as a soldier."

Think about that statement - not just its war implications, but also its life, and of course, sales implications.

Some people worry constantly about troubled love ones until that trouble causes their death.  The worrying ends because in those cases, death eliminates the fear.

In sales, we certainly don't want salespeople to have a defeatist attitude - nothing could be worse than that.  But on an opportunity by opportunity basis, there is tremendous power in believing we have already lost, or that we cannot possibly win this deal or account.

Why?

In battle, if we believe we are already dead, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen - death - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll fight!

In sales, if we believe we have already lost, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen -  we lost - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll sell!

"We'll sell" means that we'll ask all of those good, tough, timely questions that salespeople don't always ask; qualify more thoroughly than ever before, and not give in to the pressure of an early demo, presentation or proposal until the milestones in our process tell us that it's appropriate. 

Most salespeople fail to achieve because of their fear, but if we can eliminate the fear, only a lack of selling skills would hold them back and those can be taught.  Sure it can take 8 months to a year to train and coach salespeople to master consultative selling.  But that's a hell of a lot better that the 2-3 years it can take when all of their fears still prevent them from even trying what they are being taught.

Pop culture, especially a movie that tells a true story, can provide a better context for change than when we map out steps and teach.

You won't get this deal, so stop being afraid.  Do the things you've been afraid to do because you don't have anything to lose!

 

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, fear of failure, selling fearlessly, selling skills training, sales fears, sales qualifying

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

Does Fear Prevent Salespeople From Executing Your Sales Plan?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 @ 06:04 AM

Do you have those dreams?  No, not the one where you become wealthy and can buy anything you want; the dream where you're in the elevator and it begins a free fall from the highest floor.  Or the one where you go to school without your clothes on.  How about the one where you can't control your car?  How about the one where you are being pursued by a bad buy and you can't run?  These are some of the dreams that people have on a recurring basis and they tend to be quite scary while we're having them.  But, despite how real they seem and how scary they are, do those dreams prevent you from riding in an elevator, driving a car, or attending your kids' or grandchildren's school?  Probably not.

dreamSo if these powerful images don't get in the way of life, why do you let simple self-limiting beliefs - negative thoughts - prevent your salespeople from selling more effectively? At Objective Management Group (OMG), some of the data on more than 500,000 salespeople we have assessed suggests that most salespeople have a collection of self-limiting beliefs that would knock your socks off.  These negative thoughts prevent them from executing on a range of core, sales best practices that let sales opportunities slip through your fingers, delay closings, shrink margins and maintain a skimpy pipeline.  The three beliefs that burden more salespeople than any others are, "I must make a presentation", "It's not OK to ask a lot of questions", and "It's OK if my prospects shop around".  How does that make you feel?

Did a self-limting belief pop into your head just now?  Was it something along the lines of, "I can't do anything about that"? Or, "I can't confront all of my salespeople"?  Or, "Makes sense but I don't know which self-limting beliefs they have"?  Or, "That's their problem.  I just have to worry about myself"?  Or, "I'll add that to my list - I have too many bigger problems than than to worry about"? Or, "There isn't anything I can do about that - I'm not a therapist!"?

Those are just a few examples of self-limiting sales management beliefs!  Is it possible that you or your sales managers have some of them?

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, record collection, fear of failure, dreams, self-limting beliefs, sales fears

Sales Prospecting on Steroids

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 06:09 AM

With all of the articles written about sales and cold calls being dead (I usually write the counter arguments to that.  How would you find new business if the only thing you could rely on was a lead?) it was a breath of fresh air when Michael Strickland, my guest on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, spoke about prospecting on steroids.  His five tips for sales success in today's economy are:

  1. Review your prospecting strategy - prospecting on steroids - redouble everyone's efforts
  2. Have a signature communication - own a channel - communicate your value proposition
  3. Leverage technology - CRM - to identify and manage opportunities
  4. Have a web presence - make sure people can find you by Googling you
  5. Identify all of the weaknesses in the sales organization - fix them.

Michael, the former banker, turned banking consultant, turned sales consultant, turned Vistage chair also spoke about how executive teams and sales teams spend 97% of their time planning and only 3% of their time doing.  He strongly suggested reversing those percentages.

"Action conquers fear.  Make a strategic decision to grow."  That was his comment when asked about the fear that has paralyzed so many businesses, causing them to wait and see what happens, rather than do something about their slumping sales force and revenue. 

Listen to the showContact Michael Strickland.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales management, prospecting, cold calling, fear of failure, sales evaluations, steroids, sales tests, michael strickland, identify weaknesses, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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