Most people in business have a pathological fear of selling. For some people the act of selling is just too confrontational. Some people have a fear of the potential rejection if the customer doesn’t want what they are selling. And for others, the fear is based on their view of sales being a somewhat sleazy and slimy act (think of that dodgy used car salesperson we have all come across).
Some people also have a fear that they are somewhat inferior and that the work they do is not valuable. This is common when you first start out in business and you start getting your first lot of clients. The reality of having someone pay you money for your services often triggers concerns about doing the job properly, making the customer happy or even whether you have the skills or experience to be doing the job in the first place.
Others have a deep rooted fear that they are complete frauds and feel that they are completely inadequate or even incompetent, despite evidence that suggests that you are in fact skilled and quite successful. This imposter syndrome often stems from a simple lack of confidence, personal insecurities, a desire for perfection, or may be the result of setting personal goals that are excessively high. If you feel this, you are not alone. Research shows that as many as 70% of people suggest imposter syndrome at some point in their career.
Ultimately, it is these fears that hold us back from selling what we do best.
So how do we overcome this fear?
There are a few different tips I can suggest.
Tip 1: Change your perception
The first step is to put aside your existing perceptions of what sales and selling is about. You need to reboot your brain and imprint a different view.
In an earlier post (here) I wrote about how a key aim of business is to help solve your customers problem. In the case of thermal performance assessors, this aim is to reduce energy costs, make the home more comfortable, or if you work for developers or builders, to ensure the building design passes the energy efficiency requirements for Council approval.
If you are truly passionate about the work you do and are genuinely interested in helping customers solve their problems, then ‘selling’ is really just an opportunity for you to talk about what you love doing.
Tip 2: Change your language
For some people the word sales or selling is what conjures up the fear. In this instance, change your language. Instead, talk about your ‘pitch’ and how you help people.
When you develop a pitch, you are explaining who you are, what you do and most importantly the problems you solve for a particular audience. In essence you are developing a nice way of answering the question we always get asked when we meet someone: “What do you do?”. Instead of saying “I do energy ratings on buildings”, or “I do BASIX assessments”, you might say that you are “a building consultant that helps building designers to create comfortable and energy efficient homes, saving their clients’ money”.
A good pitch should engage and excite and prompt the person you are talking with to say “Wow, how do you do that?” and initiate further discussion, or even respond with “Wow, I know someone you should talk to”.
The great thing about a pitch is that the person you are speaking with initiates the next step. They want to know more about what you do, which takes the pressure off you.
Tip 3: Change your perspective
Another way to overcome the fear is to completely rethink the customer engagement process. Instead of thinking that you are selling something, re position the process as you helping someone to buy.
People love to buy things. The buying process often triggers a sense of satisfaction or achievement which activates neurochemicals in the brain, providing a ‘feel good’ sensation. Being sold to, on the other hand can trigger a negative response as it activates part of the brain that causes our body to freeze or run away in fear.
When you are helping someone to buy your services, you are doing a good thing. Not only are you helping your client solve a problem, but you are also educating them at the same time about why energy efficient buildings are a good thing. You may not even realise that you are doing this, but if you look at the conversations you have and emails you send to clients, you can see it.
Creating a helpful and easy to buy process is providing good customer service that clients appreciate. The buying process is likely to be low friction and the client ends up thinking you have done a great job in helping them.
So how will you overcome your fear? Leave a comment below.