For too many people, the term ‘salesman’ conjures up clichés of the used car salesman or the 1992 movie about cutthroat salesmen, Glengarry Glen Ross. The principal character, played by Alec Baldwin, advertised a contest among the members of the sales team with the following pitch: “As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”
With portrayals like that, it’s no wonder sales gets a bad rap. But, the fact is, we all sell. Regardless of our role in a company – or even regardless of the business we are in – we sell. But given some of the persistent stereotypes about sales, it’s easy to understand how even the best of us experience apprehension, or even fear, about selling. Let’s examine how we can deal with that fear by finding options and solutions to view the profession in a different light.
- Address your fear. Let’s face it: most of us don’t like to be perceived as pushy. We don’t like rejection, either. As we start a career in sales, the first thing to do is recognize the source of our fear and turn the tables. All of us are being sold by our friends constantly, be it Girl Scout Cookies or popcorn for a Boy Scout troop, and we don’t think ill of being asked. Similarly, no one will think poorly of us for marketing our own products.
- Have faith in your product. You’ve got to believe in what you are selling. Presumably, you’ve chosen your profession because it’s something you feel passionate about. Display that passion to your clients and share your knowledge! It must be easier to talk about the products or services you personally believe in.
- View your role as a service. In real estate, for instance, you aren’t just selling a commodity – you’re selling a lifestyle, the home in which your clients will raise their family, send their children to school, make lifetime memories. Your clients, in turn, rely on you for your knowledge of the area and trust you to find the best fit for them. View your role as a service provider and not as a mere salesperson. You exist to educate clients and give them trust in the process.
- Embrace the ‘no.’ No sales professional is skilled or lucky enough to close every deal they pitch. Use the deals you don’t land to refine your own skill set. Don’t be afraid to ask the customers you don’t land why they chose another option, in order to learn and continue to improve.
- Reward your successes. Focus on the positive! Some people have rituals to celebrate each closed sale – you can ring a bell or do a happy dance – but it’s essential to recognize what you are doing right and to have fun with it. It’s the wins in life that keep us pushing through the losses.
Finally, keep your eyes on the prize and turn a critical eye to the reason you chose your profession. What’s your desired goal or outcome? Staying focused on our ‘why’ is what gives each of us the motivation and confidence to defy fear and find success.