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5 Essential Steps To Eliminate Fear When Selling

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

fearFear is one of the most debilitating emotions a human being can experience. It can stop you emotionally and physically from carrying out even mundane tasks, depending on the level of fear experienced.

Being fearful is not something that can normally be instantly put aside. If you’re really concerned about an upcoming meeting, where you feel you may be put on the spot, or you haven’t prepared enough for, someone telling you that ‘it’s ok, everything will be alright’ isn’t actually very helpful, because the person suffering knows that the opposite will probably be true.

Psychologists tell us that fear is a protection mechanism that the brain employs when it realises it faces a dangerous, difficult or pain-inducing position. Wikipedia’s approach is ‘Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or in the case of humans wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.’

The fear-triggering memory or stimulus can make us appear nervous wrecks in front of decision-makers. But remembering that it is there for a purpose should help us as salespeople in coping with the situations we have to face. If you also remember that FEAR could stand for False Expectation Appearing Real, it could help you approach that situation with a little less trepidation.

What can you do if you face a situation that makes you fearful? NHS Choices give us some tips on how to deal with those types of situations. Here are just a few:

1. What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

When you’re anxious about something, it can help to think through what the worst end result could be. Even if a presentation, a call or a meeting goes horribly wrong, chances are that you and the world will survive. Sometimes the worst that can happen is a panic attack.

If you start to get a faster heartbeat or sweating palms, the best thing is not to fight it. Stay where you are and simply feel the panic without trying to distract yourself. Placing the palm of your hand on your stomach and breathing slowly and deeply (no more than 12 breaths a minute) helps soothe the body.

It may take a while, but eventually the panic will go away on its own. The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.

2. Get Real

Fears tend to be much worse than reality. Often, sales people who have been rejected feel that it will happen on every call, but with proper preparation, it may not happen that way again. Similarly, people sometimes tell themselves they’re a failure because they don’t hit their targets every campaign. This then makes them feel pretty bad. But when you recognise these fears are normal, the anxiety often goes away.

3. Don’t Expect Perfection

Black-and-white perfectionist thinking such as, “If I’m not the best salesperson in my company, I’m a failure,” could be unrealistic and only set us up for anxiety.

Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it’s essential to remember that life is messy.

4. Go Back To Basics

A good sleep, a good meal and a walk are often the best cures for anxiety. The easiest way to fall asleep when worries are spiralling through the mind can be to stop trying to nod off. Instead, try to stay awake.

Many people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-treat anxiety with the idea that it will make them feel better, but these only make nervousness worse. On the other hand, eating well will make you feel great physically and mentally.

5. Reward Yourself

Give yourself a treat. When you’ve met that decision-maker from hell or made that call you’ve been dreading, reinforce your success by treating yourself to a country walk, a concert, a meal out, a book, a DVD, or whatever little gift makes you happy. You will associate this success with overcoming the fear, so next time you brain will concentrate on how well you did last time and help you to look forward to the situation next time.

It may be that your fears are actually hindering your sales success and causing more problems than these five ideas could solve. In those cases, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been successful in helping people overcome fear. Because fear is more complex than just forgetting or deleting memories, an active and successful approach involves people repeatedly confronting their fears. By confronting their fears—in a safe manner—a person can suppress the fear-triggering memory or stimulus.

Above all, don’t think that you are alone in having fears. Every human being, no matter how confident they appear, will have fears, so be aware that they can be overcome with the right strategies and approaches.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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The 5 Stages Of The Customer’s Decision Making Process

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Young person thinking with a machine head illustrationWhen people make decisions, they have a shift of perspective. That is, they stop wondering about the choices they can make and now start to live with the consequences of that decision.

The word comes from the Latin “Desicio”, literally meaning ‘to cut off from’. So when your prospect makes a decision, he or she is cutting off from any other alternative.

This can be quite frightening for some people, as it mean they have made a choice and they no longer have options. Some may actually feel happy when they have options, as it means they can choose between various things. An actual decision means they have no need to seek further options, and that can make them feel fearful, in case they made the wrong decision and are cut off from other choices.

So, what is the process that most people go through in order to make a buying decision? It’s not always as clear-cut as this, but here’s a six-stage process that would make sense to most buyers:

1) Recognising They Have A Problem. Until that is clear, people would stay in their comfort zone and see no need for a change to the status quo. The only reason a decision has to be made is because the current situation doesn’t match their map of what reality should be. They have to move away from the pain, loss, challenge or problem they are experiencing and toward a solution. You’re there to develop that need and help them on the journey

2) Search For Solution. As soon as the problem/challenge is recognised, the search for the solution can begin. Various criteria are drawn up to determine what would be a successful outcome for the situation as it stands. This is often done on-line but will also involve face-to-face discussions to create the journey towards solving the problem

3) Evaluate Available Solutions. As soon as potential solutions have been verified, the next step is to weigh up the potential for each alternative. Will it help me achieve my goals? Does it fit my decision criteria? Will one option be better than any other? By making the evaluation, the prospect is able to weigh up the consequences of each choice and so ease the fear of making the wrong choice

4) Make The Choice And Decide. This is the crux and will determine the success of the whole process. This ‘cutting-off’ point may be exactly right for the company and solve their challenges immediately. Or it may be the first step on a journey that may take a long time to evolve. Hopefully, the decision-maker has evaluated the pros and cons and made the right decision against the criteria they were basing their decision on.

5) Evaluation Of The Decision. It may take minutes, hours, days or weeks for the final decision to be made. But when it’s been completed, the next stage is to see the value of the service or product in actual use. If it lives up to expectation, then the decision can be verified; if it doesn’t, then recriminations often begin.

It may be only a small decision that is being contemplated, or it could be a massive, long-term venture the company is embarking on. The same process could apply. If you ensure you are there each step of the way on the journey, you create opportunities to assist the prospect in the whole process, hence reducing the fears and giving them confidence that making the decision to go with you was the right one all along.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Decision Makers, Sales Process | Leave a comment

Would You Employ Any Of Lord Sugar’s Apprentices?

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Sir AlanYes, it’s excruciating, painful and hilarious. But it’s also a great study programme for those of us interested in the psychology of the fame-seeker. And the interest is shaken, stirred and served up with a delicate slice of hyperbole in this season’s BBC1 extravaganza, The Apprentice.

I love to see how these obviously intelligent people in a past life actually try to sell themselves on TV, possibly not realising that if they go out in the first few weeks, people will only remember them for being total and utter mash-heads.

Listen to some of the quotes from the first show:

‘I’m an alpha male. I can make women do what I want in the business world, and, come to think about it, some men”. Yes, Daniel Lassman, but can you actually make a company successful?

He continued, ‘I’d give myself a 9/10 for attractiveness, but I’m not better at business because I’m good looking. I’m better at business because I’m better at business.’

Well, that makes sense now, then. Thanks for clearing that up.

Steven Ugoalah was one of my favourites. ‘I have an amazing idea that will make Lord Sugar a fortune and change the world. I’m not arrogant – because what I’m saying is all true.’

Can’t wait to see wait what this idea is. And Lord Sugar’s reaction. Riveting!

‘I get the job done. I walk the walk. I talk the talk. I dance the dance,’ said Mark Wright. Wow, that’s what every interviewer wants to hear at every interview. And probably has. From all the has-beens and idealists that have stepped foot in the building!

And what of Scott McCulloch? Yes, the great one was on top form with, ‘I see myself as a mix between Gandhi and the Wolf of Wall Street.’

An interesting and poignant observation from Scott, many supposing that up to seven billion people could be aligned in the same phrase! What a shame we won’t be able to see if he is right. Lord Sugar eliminated him on the first show!

It was fascinating to see the way these people tried to sell themselves to the British public, or was it just to themselves? Surely the women on this series wouldn’t stoop to the level that makes others reach for the sick bag?

Stand by for Ella Jade Bitton, claiming to be a management graduate, and giving all other management graduates nightmares. (Is this seriously the business I have devoted my life to? Arrghh!)

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. That’s how I live. That’s my motto.’

Now, I’m not so naïve as to believe all this is exactly how they appear in real life. It’s pure televisual sloth, I know. But there will be some managers out there who will, in the future, be employing these delusional, aspirational salespeople.

Yes, that is what they are. In sales. every one of us has to sell ourselves every day in many situations. The question is do we need to pepper ourselves with bravado to convince others to like us? Naturally, obviously, essentially, the answer is no.

I am so looking forward to seeing how these apprentices are treated by Lord Sugar over the coming weeks. We’re in for treats as the fun unfolds and we get to know them and how they change on the way. Compelling viewing! Just like a car crash!

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of Twitter)

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How To Overcome The Prospect Who Needs To ‘Cut Costs’

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Cutting costWhen negotiating with a client recently, I noticed she was often coming back to the issue of pricing for our services, trying to get me to reduce the fees for some specific services we were offering.

Now, I realise that, although MTD are tried and trusted with many clients, new prospects haven’t had the opportunity to see how we can benefit their business, so I can understand that they can’t see the value in some of the specific offerings that we have.

I asked her why she felt we needed to reduce the price. (This is always a good tactic, as it helps you build up the rationale behind the request).

She told me that she needed to ‘cut costs’ and that this was one of the items that needed to be cut in price so that she could justify the investment.

Notice she didn’t say that the company didn’t need or want the service…she wanted it, but at a price that she thought right for them.

I said that the fact she was paying anything for the services proved that actually she wasn’t looking to cut costs; she would still have to pay for the services so that wouldn’t help her to cut costs.

What she actually wanted was for us to help her make a profit from the services. Actually, no company wants to ‘cut costs’. It’s just a simple way of saying you want to make a profit, and you think the easiest way is to cut back.

So I identified her positioning statement of ‘reduce your price’ as exactly that…a position.

I wanted to really identify her actual needs, so I could pinpoint her interests.

I asked her what benefit she would see in MTD reducing the price. She replied that she needs to see her departmental profits increase for the next 12 months, and she sees this as one area that will help.

Having seen the real reasons, I said “So you really want to improve profits and you see one way of doing this is by us cutting our fees, is that correct? Well, if we were able to show you how we could help you maintain and increase profits using these services, enabling you to utilise these facilities in a way that would immediately have an impact on business, would you say the fees we are charging are reasonable?”

After a little contemplation, she had to say ‘yes’ to this, as it was providing the solution she was looking for. As we offer a guarantee on our services, I was able to persuade her to accept our fees, with no discount, on the proviso that it would help her achieve her profit goals.

So, I worked with her to see how the return on investment would be greater than the initial outlay, and she was able to see the rationale and agreed to go with us.

This is the value of moving away from ‘positions’ in negotiating and moving towards ‘interests’. People always have hidden interests that are served beneath the surface of their positions they are taking. Uncover those needs and interests and you have a greater chance of succeeding when you are negotiating, rather than just relying on working on their positions.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Negotiation Skills | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The 8 Essential Skills You Need To Become A Perfect Listener

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Woman listening with ridiculously big earWe have spoken many times about the key skills required to become an expert salesperson, and we always keep coming back to the specific skill of being able to listen effectively.

Listening is a skill in that it can be learned, developed and improved. Here are some ideas that will help you keep developing this essential addition to your armoury:

- Practice listening skills: Yes, the more you practice, the better you will become. It’s not something you will ever become perfect at – your brain is set up to continually ‘self-talk’ so when you are talking to yourself, you obstruct the ability to listen effectively. Spend time listening in to conversations and practice closely listening to the meaning behind what people are saying, rather than getting ready to jump in with what you want to say.

- Keep an open, curious mind: This is a great skill to develop. It stops you being judgemental and allows you to open up the conversation because you’re more interested in what the other person is thinking and feeling rather than what you are wanting to say and do

- Link what you listen to with what you already know: This helps you build your knowledge and determine connections between what was said and what you know already. That will help you see how these connections could be built up further and also turn you into an interesting conversationalist as you share ideas that are linked up.

- Resist external distractions: Noises, other conversations and such-like are often key distractions that might interfere with your ability to pay attention to what someone is saying. You need to focus and concentrate so these extraneous distractions are placed into the background rather than brought to your conscious attention. If distractions become too much, see if you can move locations or pick up the conversation at another time.

- Ask questions to clarify understanding: People will delete and generalise information because they are reciting from their own perspective and from their own opinionated ideas. Recognise that they may not see things like you do. It doesn’t mean they are wrong; it just means they see things differently. Listen to understand before being making yourself understood.

- Summarise often: It’s good to stop off now and again in a conversation to summarise your understanding of what has been said so far. It stops you from misunderstandings and allows you to backtrack if necessary and ensure you have a complete understanding of what has been said by the client so far.

- Analyse non-verbal signals: Remember that people say more with their subconscious body language than they do with their conscious words. Watch out for mannerisms, eye-contact, specific gestures and other signals that may not be in sync with their overall message. Ask questions that determine the real meaning behind what they may be saying

- They listen to content and emotion: many people will hear the content but miss the emotions that drive the content. In conversations, the emotions may actually mean more than what is being said, so listen out to the signals that may mean the person has hidden agendas or has more concerns than they are letting on.

As you can see, listening is a skill that you will never perfect, and if you keep practicing you may find you get to know more than you had perceived before.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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