My friend Tom Phelps, an executive for a high tech firm and Sales Career writer for About.com, recently interviewed me for a future blog post.
One question Tom asked, “Are salespeople afraid of success?”
My short answer is yes, with lots of layers.
Aversion to success is made from numerous filo strips of fear that stick together to form an unsavory Baklava.
Salespeople are afraid:
to prospect new accounts.
They sit back waiting for the phone to ring, the RFP to arrive, the referral to land on their desk. (Back in the day we called these blue birds.)
to give an accurate forecast in the CRM system.
Salespeople are under the microscope. Constantly being pressured by management as to where they stand in their accounts.
to call the right person.
Instead of calling high in the organization, (CEO, COO, etc.) which can take a lot of time, effort, and chutzpah, sales peeps call on the person who has little influence over the buying decision.
to ask for the order.
If you’re in sales, you’re going to hear a lot of no’s before you get to a yes. Rejection hurts.
they have a poor performing product/service.
Can you imagine selling something and worrying whether or not it’s going to work? Salespeople eat, sleep, and breathe worry.
of their sales managers.
Nothing happens until something gets sold. The CEO applies pressure on the Sales Manager who puts pressure on the sales soldiers on the front line. It never lets up.
to ask customers for a reference.
Why? Because, in the salesperson’s mind, it’s self serving. They feel guilty about the ask.
to follow up with customers to see how things are going.
Many salespeople don’t swing around and ask the client for feedback. Why? They’re afraid to hear bad news. The product/service doesn’t do what the sales dudette said it would do.
of being themselves.
Instead of acting natural, being vulnerable, admitting when they don’t have all the answers, the typical salesperson tries to be something that they’re not. This kills their performance.
People don’t fear success; they’re afraid of the cumulative steps required to achieve success.
This is true if you’re an entrepreneur, a director for a non profit, a leader, in career transition, etc.
If running into fear is too scary for you then jump in, wade in, put one toe in, or crawl in.
Just get in motion.
Photo credits courtesy of BK and Keith Trice.
Hello; before i started my business I was part of a family owned traveling carnival. I used to work on the bookings. My family had seven rides in a market where most of our competitors had twice as many. Yet we were able to book many larger events because of our honesty sincerity and dedication to solving problems for the event coordinators. but it often did mean bidding on events where i would have to depend on other ride owners to meet the contracts. I can remember sweating out many a week hoping the other guy was going to show up. but i still had to talk to the potential committees as if i had all the confidence in the world. when it comes to making those cold calls i like to remember what calvin murphy says about great basketball players. he said and still says you have to have a bad memory. you have to know in your heart that if you miss 14 in a row the 15th is going in. thanks for sharing the post. I’m sure it will help a lot of people. and i’m looking forward to the interview, max
Calvin Murphy was a great player.
He ranks fourth in the NBA record book for consecutive free throws made (78) and first for seasonal percentage mark hitting on 206 of 215 attempts for a .958 percentage both achieved in the 1980-81 season.
That’s a unique thought of having a bad memory. I’m going to use that with clients.
Honest, sincerity, and dedication. Refreshing. I wish more salespeople would align themselves with these attributes. The profession would be better for it.
I’ve found small wins help encourage bigger steps. Take time to celebrate what worked and why. The next time it will be easier
Small W’s, YES!
Celebrating the W’s is equally important.
Steve and I shared many of the described bunker moments in monthly sales meetings years ago. I recall a meeting where a salesman went down in flames not able to support his rosy forecast and challenging the Vice President’s veracity. Within a week he was no longer employed. The take away was and is to be honest with yourself. It starts with recognizing what is column fodder. If a budget has not been approved to acquire the product, disengage and work on those suspects that meet your sales success criteria. It takes confidence and an inner belief every day, every hour to work the plan to exceed the goal. Eagle sales achievers don’t kid themselves, they have a healthy dissatisfaction with their own success.
Andy, well said. All of it.