The Elephant in the Room
All sales people like to make sales, but some are afraid of rejection. This is a problem because it means that every time they make a call they’re worried that there may also be a sting in the tail. This can cause them to hold back, and that can create a self-fulfilling prophecy: No sale.
How can you overcome your fear of rejection?
Elephant in the room
First of all, let’s get the elephant out of the room. Selling involves rejection. Not everyone who you pitch to will buy from you. In fact, most people won’t.
Pareto’s Law makes this very clear: 80% of your effort will only yield 20% of your results. That means that four-fifths of the calls you make probably won’t pan out.
If you can’t handle that kind of rejection, then you may be in the wrong line of work. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that, however it is something that you need to be aware of.
Just for a moment, let’s think about another profession that involves selling. It’s performing. Those who make it in this vocation not only have talent, but they’ve given their hearts and souls to the work. They’ve had to because that’s the kind of commitment that’s required to rise above the masses who would also like to succeed. The competition to become a successful performer, whether it’s in music, art, literature, or acting is far worse than for the products that you’re selling.
One of the traits of those who work this hard is that they can’t live with themselves if they do anything else. In other words, everything they do in life is geared towards enabling them to perform.
Question for you: Could you live with yourself if you did something besides sell? Is selling so important to you that you would be a waiter or waitress in the evenings so that you could sell during the day? That’s what many artists do.
Many performers get extremely nervous before they go on stage or allow someone to see their art.
Some nervousness is okay. It keeps you on your toes. It forces you to concentrate on what you’re doing. Few people – Nigel Kennedy is one – can lark about on stage as he did during a recent Last Night of the Proms, and then pull off a world-class performance as easily as brushing his teeth minutes later.
The fact is that some people get so nervous that they have to vomit into their dressing room sinks before they can perform; but they keep returning to their art because they have to. They would descend into despair if they didn’t.
If selling made you that sick every time you tried to do it, would you stick with it? It makes you think, doesn’t it?
So the elephant in the room is that if you’re going to sell, then you have to accept that you will be rejected most of the time. That’s one reason why those in business are exhorted to fail fast. The idea is that because eight out of ten tries probably won’t work, by getting them out of the way as quickly as possibly it will get you to the two that will.
If you’re going to succeed in sales, then you must have that kind of tenacity – the determination of a performer – if you want to be successful at it; and, if you don’t, then you need to be honest enough with yourself to find something else to do.
There’s no shame in leaving this profession. The inability to handle this level of rejection is probably the reason why most people don’t do it.
What if you have to sell?
Suppose, however, that despite the rejection and the fear of it you feel fulfilled only when you sell? In other words, what do you do when wild elephants wouldn’t keep you from trying to sell?
The answer is that you have to change the emotion that you associate with the rejection you experience.
Here’s what happens.
When you’re rejected, for any reason, you feel badly about yourself. If you’re an artist, that’s a particular problem because you are the product. However, if you’re selling anything else, then you must take yourself out of your product. That is, you have to recognise that you are not selling you. Instead, you are simply the messenger. And so while your prospects may take out their rejection on you, rather assume that it’s you they dislike, you must remember that what they are actually rejecting is what you have to sell.
This will take a lot of discipline on your part. That’s because our emotions are fickle. They go up and down. We can’t rely on them to give us a true picture. They might; but they also might not. That’s why we have to look for other clues so that we can clarify our experiences.
One of the problems is that a powerful experience can generate an intense emotion. When that happens, we tend to feel the emotion anytime we get close to the experience. It’s one reason, for example, why people whose relationships break down lose interest in life. So much of what they once enjoyed was tied inextricably to the person they did it with.
So to overcome the feeling of personal rejection, you have to teach yourself that that rejection is for the product.
Distance yourself from the product
How can you distance yourself from the product? One way is to stop taking the job home with you. Mentally you have to make a distinction between work and non-work. If you’re at work when you’re at work and at work when you’re at home or with your family, then there’s really never a time when you’re off-duty. It’s critical that you give yourself breathing space between the two.
Another way is to engage in intense aerobic exercise. Short periods of going at it, hammer and tongs, is more effective than long workouts. When you burn off the stress, it clears your mind as well oxygenates your little grey cells.
Maybe you don’t feel particularly stressed. It doesn’t matter. You are more than you realize. That’s because our society has raised the bar so high that abnormal feels normal, and it’s only when we have a breakdown or a heart attack that we recognize just how much stress we’ve been under.
A third thing is to take up a hobby. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is not just a cute little saying. It’s telling you that you need to give your mind and your emotions a break.
The same thing can be said for working six days and then resting on the seventh. This may seem like utter boredom to you, but you will be amazed at how much your body is able to renew itself if you take a little better care of it.
You weren’t made to carry on non-stop and you’re a fool if you think that you’re the exception.
An American comedian once said that, “Death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down”.
Think about it.
So accept that rejection is a large part of selling, but don’t invest yourself in your product. It’s not you that prospects buy. You’re just the delivery boy / girl. And create some physical, mental, and emotional space between you and your work. It will help you to regain the perspective you need to be a great sales person.
Would being more effective at making sales be of value to you? If the answer to that question is yes, click here to send me an email and find out more.
Be sure to get your doctor’s approval first if you haven’t done more than adjust your pillows on the couch while watching the football.