Riding the Shark: Vanquishing Fear in Selling. Part 1 of 4

photo by: Steve GarnerThis is the first of a four-part blogpost series. In Part 2, we’ll discuss the 4 types of fear. In Part 3, I’ll go over how to fend off the sharks of fear. And in Part 4, you’ll learn how to shark-proof your market and vanquish fear altogether.

There are many ways to think about sales and selling. You can focus on value propositions, sales processes, sales management, motivation, techniques, and models. I’d like to focus on something else that’s common in sales – fear.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Market 

Remember the first time you saw the movie Jaws? The tale of a giant shark tapped into a primal human fear. The follow-on, Jaws 2, raised the ante with one of the most famous taglines in movie history – “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”

Who could look at the beach again without some kind of shiver? Selling has some of that same flavor. We’ve all had some negative experience in selling – and like Jaws, it keeps some sort of control over us ever after. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the market…” is all too real.

All kinds of selling involve some fear. Some forms of selling involve more fear than others.  Fear comes in many flavors; the form it takes varies by industry, by products being sold, and of course by the individual salesperson. There are multiple ways to deal with fears. None is always better than the others; and often more than one approach is necessary to overcome fear.

Fear is the Enemy

But with all this diversity around fear, one thing is unambiguously clear: fear is the enemy. Fear destroys sales. It separates you from your customers, makes you behave in narrow ways, lowers the value you can add, and in a thousand ways cuts your sales effectiveness.

Some may disagree.

  • Some say, “Fear helps keep me on edge, sharp, focused.” But if you require fear to keep you sharp and focused, then you lack any positive customer-based motivation. That means you’re sub optimizing – for your customers, and for yourself.
  • Some say, “Fear keeps me on my toes, always looking around for new trends and issues.” But if you seek new trends and issues only to assuage your own fears, then simply feeling comfortable will make you oblivious to trends and issues.
  • Some say, “Fear gives me adrenaline, energy, passion, things that my customers pick up on and love.” Note that drug addicts and alcoholics also believe that they are flat, boring and uninteresting unless hopped up. Are you different?

No. Fear, in all cases, is the enemy. If you’re fearful, you’re not selling as well as you can. And if you’re not selling as well as you can, someone else will. And you should be afraid of that. (And if you are, you increase the odds of precisely the thing you fear, because fear of fear is just as destructive as any other kind).

Unless you can ride the shark – vanquish your fears – you will always be sub-optimal and at risk – always afraid to go back in the water. It’s a lousy way to live.

It also doesn’t have to be that way. That’s what this four-blogpost series is about.

In the second post, The Four Sharks, I’ll tell you where to look for fear in sales. The first rule in shark-fighting (unlike Fight Club) is – we talk about Sharks. I’ll go through the Four Fears – the Big Sharks that account for about 95% of our fears. That should give you an acute sense of pain for just “where it hurts most” in terms of your fears, and help you zero in the issues unique to you, in your business, in your industry.

In the third post, Riding the Shark, I’ll go through solutions.  There are four of them, but they don’t match up one-on-one with the Four Sharks. Instead, they are comprehensive, and offer differing ways to fend off “shark attacks,” making you less vulnerable and more able to sell correctly.

In the last post, Shark-Proofing Your Market, I’ll write about what you need to replace fear – to stop being vulnerable to shark attacks altogether. Because you can’t just fight defensive battles all your career – you need to come from a place of security and confidence.

Stay tuned for the next three parts: and I welcome your comments about the subject in the meantime.

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  1. […] 2. Riding the Shark: Vanquishing Fear in Selling: Pt. 1 of 4  […]

  2. […] is the final post in a four-part series on Fear in Selling.  In the first part, I talked about the importance of dealing with fear in sales. In the second part, I wrote about […]

  3. […] is the third article in a four-part series on Fear in Selling.  In the first part, I talked about the importance of dealing with fear in sales. In the second part, I wrote  about […]

  4. […] Part 1 I talked about the importance of dealing with fear in sales. Here I’d like to talk about how […]

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