Sales Leadership – How Our Fear Influences Our Outcomes

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 @ 16:09 PM


Last week I had the great fortune of being a participant in an excellent training program. The experience got me thinking about a sales leader’s ability to execute the correct strategies on a consistent basis.

You may have heard the term “the four deadly fears”. They are:

  • I fear failure: I need to succeed
    • Not taking real risks
    • Choosing the easy route
  • I fear being wrong: I need to be right
    • Avoiding situations where you might not know the answers
    • Never admitting that you made a mistake or that your were wrong
  • I fear rejection: I need to be accepted
    • Settling for less instead of risking rejection
    • Not speaking up
  • I fear being emotionally uncomfortable: I need to be comfortable
    • Only focusing on things you are an expert in
    • Not being vulnerable 

The question is not whether these affect us, but how?  If you want to raise the bar, consider how your emotions affect your behavior when managing your salespeople:


  • Won’t allow salespeople to experience mini-failures
  • Will carry too much of the load ourselves
  • May allow salespeople to chase bad deals for too long

 Being Wrong

  • Not taking responsibility for your part in the challenge
  • Will tell salespeople what to do vs. ask them
  • My take credit for ideas your salespeople have


  • May not encourage our salespeople to take risks
  • Will have trouble holding people accountable
  • May not direct when necessary

 Emotionally Uncomfortable

  • Won’t engage in management behavior that is outside our comfort zone
  • Will have trouble speaking the truth to our salespeople
  • May hide behind metrics
  • Can have superficial relationships with our salespeople

Sales leaders need to spend the majority of their time on coaching (pre-call strategy and post call debriefing), accountability (daily selling behavior), mentoring (growing their staff), motivating (providing an extra dose of urgency) and recruiting.

Investing the time necessary on these core activities is critical, insuring you are as effective as possible requires greater self-awareness. 

If you are wondering my challenges are with fear of failure and being wrong.

Topics: Culture, overcoming resistance, best sales management training, Expectations

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