Unbound Growth Blog

How To Handle Fear In Sales

Posted by Carole Mahoney

 1/29/19 8:00 AM

When I was about 9 years old, I watched the Dracula movie for the first time, and hence, became obsessed that  Dracula himself was living in my mother's basement.

When my mother would ask me to go down into the basement to get something from the pantry for dinner, I found ways to stall, or delay it, or just get out of it altogether. Until, eventually, my mother made me go down there, in which case, I would turn on every single light in the basement because I was convinced that they couldn't see me if it was light out.


Until one day, I ran so fast up the basement stairs that I slipped and fell and slammed my shin into the stair. Tears came to my eyes as blood came out of my leg, and I'm like, great, now they're really gonna get me.

I ran the rest of the way up the stairs, and I was so mad at myself that finally I decided, you know what? I'm gonna go downstairs, and I'm gonna turn off all of the damn lights and I'm gonna sit on this step. I even said out loud, "Okay, Dracula. If you're here, come and get me now, 'cause I'm not falling down the stairs again."

Nothing happened.

Now, that didn't completely erase my fear of going downstairs in the basement. Every time my mom asked me to go get something I got that nervous and tight feeling in my chest, but I took that as my cue to purposely walk slower, not only because I wanted to not fall on the stairs, but I was trying to convince myself that maybe Dracula wasn't living in my basement anymore.

This is what happens to salespeople who are afraid of rejection, or upsetting someone, or even being seen as "that annoying and needy salesperson". They avoid it. Until they can't anymore.

Is Fear Impacting Your Sales?

When you're looking at fear and how it impacts your behaviors in sales, like asking enough tough questions, because you're afraid that maybe they won't like you, or maybe they won't think you're smart enough to know the answer yourself.

Perhaps, you're afraid of the rejection that when they say, "Hey, I'm happy with my current vendor," you don't wanna continue to be rejected by asking them even more questions.

The fears that we have and the things that we think get in the way of our behaviors. There's lots of ways and techniques that you can get aware of what those are and how they're impacting you.

Techinques range from writing them down to being aware of what's physically happening in your body; is your heart racing? Are you talking fast? Are you sweating? Is your mind whirling? All of these might be indications that you're afraid of something, that whole flight or fight response.

Unfortunately, like me in the story of going downstairs in my mother's basement, when we're afraid of things, we tend to try to avoid putting ourselves in those situations. But in sales, you can't not prospect. You can't not follow up. You can't not ask a lot of questions and be successful.

The Cure To Fear In Sales

The cure is actually somewhat similar to what I did when I made myself walk slower up the stairs in the basement. Psychologists call this exposure and making a habit of it.

Find that one thing that you're afraid of doing and do a little bit of it, and a little bit more the next day, and the next day a little bit more. What happens in your brain is it starts to become a habit. When our brains start to become habitual in certain routines, we start to get bored with them, ie: not scared.

So, instead of being afraid of the thing that you're doing, make it like an old habit and it will become second nature, like I used to be afraid of Dracula.

Although, I do still have to have a blanket around my neck when I sleep I night, so that's another lesson,  because even when you think you've conquered your fears, remember that there are things that happen in our lives that can re-trigger those fears, things like your quota going up, or that deal that you thought was going to close at the end of the month but didn't.

All of these fears can trigger those things like need for approval and emotional control. But being aware of it means that you can develop strategies and techniques to make it habitual and expose yourself to it a little bit every day.

Go out and face your fears in small pieces. You got this. Dracula be damned.

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Topics: sales coaching, salespeople, #livesaleslab

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