Selling through FEAR

Selling through FEAR

5 Great Articles on Selling through Fear

Consider this a sort of think tank discussion on fear management ideas.  Below are four articles written in the last several years on managing and conquering your fears when selling.

After attending a workshop on how to coach people through fear, I started to look back at my previous blog articles.  Realizing I had a lot of thoughts on this subject as it truly limits so many salespeople.

Most Common Fears when Selling

  • Cold Calling
  • Appearing incompetent or actually being incompetent
  • Calling on the big guy: Often, salespeople will drive right by the big prospects in their area because they are afraid of turning up the driveway and calling on them.  They fear they aren’t technically competent enough to call on the big prospect.
  • Asking too many prying questions and appearing nosy.
  • Asking a Closing question and appearing “Salesy”.
  • Fear of becoming a nuisance to a prospect by calling, texting or emailing too often.
  • Pricing too high and missing the sale.
  • Pricing too low and missing the margin.
  • Asking for payment on a past due bill and risk irritating the customer.

I know you may have been doing this a long time and may even feel that you don’t have fears when selling.  However, when I work with salespeople of all experience levels in a coaching situation, fear is often one of the primary limiters to their success. 

Recently, I had the chance to sit in on a session by James Garrett.  James has completed graduate work on fear and does research as part of his coaching practice.  He mentioned an interesting reaction that all of us have.  First, we freeze and second, we flee.  Third, if we can’t flee, then we fight. 

When selling, most salespeople, myself included will get stuck in the first two steps.  We freeze and never drive down the farmer’s driveway.  Or we get fearful and don’t ask for the sale.  Maybe we are too fearful to even ask good questions so we can learn how to best sell a customer. 

Article 1: Fear of the Farm Call and the 5 steps to overcome it

                Like an ever-present force, fear prevents far more actions than failure ever does.  Fear of failure.  Fear of looking foolish by doing something other than the tried-and-true method.  There’s an old saying, “No one ever got fired for buying an IBM.”  In the early days of computers, the safe choice was IBM.  Why take a chance on bringing in an unknown computer company? 

                Salespeople deal with fear throughout their career.  Fear of losing the big account makes you over service that account.  Fear of appearing rude or pushy prevents you from asking those high-value questions.  Fear of being salesy prevents you from making that next phone call or sending that next email.  Fear of rejection is often brought up when it comes to selling.  It’s commonly thought that fear of rejection causes us to not ask for the business.  I disagree.  I think the real fear is getting rejected and having no response to the rejection.  We don’t dig enough in the discovery phase of selling; we jump in with our sales pitch and then ask for their business.  Hearing, “No”, we then have nowhere to go with the conversation.  A salesperson’s typical response to this fear is to just continue presenting on their products, hoping the customer will eventually “see the light” (value) and buy.  Read the rest of Fear of the Farm Call

Article 2: When Fear & Conventional Wisdom hold you back

Doing something new, untested or against conventional wisdom. 

Trust me when I tell you the greatest accomplishments in your career will come from thinking different than the crowd and going in a new direction.  Sure, tried and true will get tried and true results.  Nothing wrong with that.  But if you are trying to differentiate, then by the very nature of the word, you need to try different methods.  Ask yourself, what does every one of your peers and competing salespeople know or do?  What are the conventional wisdoms that drive their actions?

  • Conventional Wisdom: “Don’t call on producers during harvest” Result:  we spend weeks and months waiting around for harvest, planting and the holidays to end so we can go back out and call on prospects.  We fear looking pushy, salesy or not understanding the producer’s business if we go out during their busy time.  Solution:  Find other ways to stay in touch: email, text, social media, networking meetings.  Find out when each specific producer will be done with harvest.  Each producer is different and you can catch them when they are done, not the entire industry.
  • Conventional Wisdom: “In a tough economy, nobody is buying new equipment” Result: We make fewer farm calls, offer fewer equipment demos, cut back marketing efforts and become complacent.   You end up proving what every storyline says in the agribusiness news – producers are buying less equipment – so why try.  Solution:  First, quit using national headlines to drive your individual sales efforts.  They are made to get clicks and are often repeated from one source.  Certainly, stay up on trends, but understand each customer has their own story and financial situation, which may be contrary to the headlines.  Secondly, when times are tough, customers need you more than ever.  They are still farming, which means they are still using equipment.  If it’s not new, then it’s used and needs more parts and service.  Get creative on how you can call on customers with new ways to engage them with your store.

What are the conventional wisdoms in your industry?  Challenge them! Continue reading Fear and Conventional Wisdom

Article 3: Conquering your fear of cold calling on farmers

Here are some thoughts on cold calling to alleviate those fears and learn how to thrive on meeting Future Customers.

  1. Warm it up – In today’s information society, there is really no reason any of your calls should be cold.  Warm it up by getting to know your prospect before the first call.
  2. Reframe the Prospect – Instead of calling them prospects or suspects (which I really don’t like), call them “Future Customers”. 
  3. Reframe the Call – If you are getting really nervous about the cold call, try reframing the terminology of what you are trying to accomplish.  Call it a “Fact Finding Mission” or a “Fishing Expedition” or “Info Gathering Session” or a “Get to know you meeting”.  Any of these sounds less frightening than “Cold Calling on a Suspect”.  Read the rest of Conquering your fear of Cold Calling

Article 4: Three Ways to develop the courage to sell

Courage vs Confidence

  1. Practice, practice, practice:  If I could give one piece of advice to any salesperson who lacks confidence and wants to build up the courage to sell, it would be to practice, practice, practice.  Find a way to make it as real as possible, but somehow find a way to rehearse. 
  2. Start small with a safe customer:  Take this courage journey in small incremental steps.  Don’t try out your newly developing skill for the first time on your biggest customer or prospect.  Find a current customer to work with on these skills. 
  3. Review your fears:  Cold calling on prospects is typically one of the most fearful activities for salespeople.  Contrary to popular social media memes, fear is real and I don’t downplay it.  Jumping from a plane is dangerous and I was right to be fearful.  There is real evidence that something can go wrong.  In jump school, we reviewed and practiced what to do if something went wrong.  Turning down the driveway onto a prospect’s farm is one of those fearful events in sales.  To manage this fear, I like to walk a training group through their fear with a set of questions.  Read the rest of the Courage to Sell

Bonus Article: One last article on Fear and Confidence versus Courage: 

6 moments of Confidence in Sales

Subscribe to the Podcast
Receive My Free Weekly Blog

If this blog helped you on your journey to being more effective in your selling, I ask you to share it with those who might also benefit from it.

Sign up for my weekly blog and podcast using the links on this page.

As a final request, take a look at the newest book on the market written specifically for you!


A Season of Sales Book Cover

Want to Read More?

Check out my book, A Season for Sales, written for specifically for the Ag Sales Professional, by an Ag Sale Professional!