I'd like to thank guest contributor Rob Warlow of Small Business Success for this thought-provoking article on selling by the small business owner and what can be done to conquer that fear.
Over to Rob now.
So, you have set up your business, got all your stationery printed, got the premises and office sorted and now you have to get out there and …sell! Suddenly you break into a cold sweat but you persevere, pick up the phone or approach your first customer and it all goes horribly wrong! This really sets you up for the next one!
The fear of selling is something which most first time business owners suffer from. Selling is not something we are taught in school or shown by our parents (unless you are immersed in business from an earlier age!) and so the whole process is alien to us. In this article we are going to look at exactly why we have this fear of selling and what you can do to overcome it.
Fear of Failure
Undoubtedly the biggest fear most people in selling, and business have is the fear of failure. There is nothing more demoralising than a continual lack of success! Fear of failure has been ingrained from school – remember all those tests when the results were read out for all the class to hear? If you had a poor result, you never felt like trying again! But, don’t be like Homer Simpson when he tried to counsel his son Bart who had failed in his bid to be class president,
“You tried and you failed. The lesson is … never try.”
So, what can you do to conquer your fear of failure? The bottom line is that you need a rock solid positive attitude. You must have an inner voice which is continually pushing you onto the next prospect and saying, “Come on, let’s find the one who’s going to say yes!”
Failure has to be seen as a learning opportunity. In every failure, there is a nugget of information, which next time, can point you in the direction of better success. James Dyson, the inventor of the revolutionary vacuum cleaner, summed up the need for a positive attitude, when he said, “Success is made up of 99% failure. You galvanise yourself and you keep going as a full optimist.”
Not everyone has boundless self-confidence. When you start out in business, there is sometimes a nagging doubt that you may have bitten off more than you can chew. This inner doubt chips away at your self confidence and soon you have a poor self image, which reflects in your sales pitch. To be a successful salesperson you have to have a strong self image.
To improve the image you have of yourself, follow these steps:
- Write down the qualities which you believe a successful salesperson should possess. Try and limit the list to 4 or 5 key qualities
- Find a quiet spot and relax your body and mind with deep and steady breathing
- Once you are totally relaxed recite the strong, self image qualities you identified earlier
- Imagine or visualise yourself possessing each of these qualities. See in your minds eye how you look, now that you have these qualities. See how successful you are, how you look, and the car you are driving, where you are living
- Repeat to yourself that you are assuming each of these qualities and becoming a better person with each day that passes
Repeat this exercise first thing in the morning and last thing at night and you’ll soon find your self image and confidence levels increasing!
Fear of Rejection
Closely linked with the fear of failure is the fear of rejection. Hearing the response “No” is not a great motivator! The main way to deal with rejection is just to accept that it happens. Try and re-frame any rejection you get by saying to yourself that it’s the customer who loses out, not you. Walk away with a smug smile on your face and remind yourself that you are one step closer to someone who will say “Yes”.
Product Knowledge Fear
A lack of in depth knowledge about your product or service quickly finds its way to making for a poor presentation. There is only one solution … and that’s to get learning! Absorb yourself in the product. Understand all the features and benefits, so that you can confidently talk about all aspects of your offering. Banishing this fear is one of the easy ones to put right.
No one likes to be criticised, especially if you have tried your hardest. Unless you are very thick-skinned, harsh criticism can knock you back. If you carry out the exercises on improving your self-image, your ability to take criticism will also improve. Decide to view criticism more as feedback than a direct attack on you. There is usually some element of truth in the majority of critical comments and it’s important that you take the opportunity to learn and change.
You may know all the features and benefits of your product but, like an actor, you suffer from stage fright! The presentation fear can be down to a lack of structure around your sales process. Write a basic outline on how you wish a perfect sales pitch to go. Prepare a script for the key parts of the presentation and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Why not ask someone to help you role play a sales presentation? This will give you the opportunity to make all the mistakes you want but in a risk-free environment! You should also visit your local Business Link office and see what courses they are running on sales skills. Look out for books and tapes on effective selling. All of these actions will assist in improving your confidence and result in a more professional sales presentation.
Selling does not have to be a fearful experience! If you have the right attitude, a strong self belief, a full understanding of your product and plenty of practice, then you will have nothing to fear. So, take a look at each of these fears and put a plan in place to tackle them today!
© Robert Warlow
Small Business Success
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Picking up on this theme from Rob, I've seen new businesses struggle because the business owner is not happy or comfortable in the salesperson role but the business is too small to employ a professional.
Unfortunately what happens is that the business owner makes a reluctant attempt to sell, isn't properly prepared, has a bad experience and the whole negative impression of selling is reinforced.
But without sales, you don't have a business.
I recommend that you buy and listen to one of the popular sales training audio programmes that you can keep in your car and listen to before making the sales calls.
Take a look at Close The Deal from the Sandler Sales Institute and/or The Psychology Of Selling by Brian Tracy (both affiliate links). They are very different approaches to this essential subject but at the same time there are common elements in each.
The better prepared you are, the more confidence you will have and that will reflect in your meetings with buyers.
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