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Using fear to live up to our true sales potential

Genetic and generic challenges

Fear is deep routed in our evolutionary psychology.  Fear enabled us to use the reactionary instinctive aspects of flight, fight and freeze to remove us from danger.  This helped get our genes into the next generation and it’s the main reason we are all here today.   Very useful for our species some 150,000 years ago on the plains of Africa.  Not so useful for the 21C sales person: In that these instinctive reactions manifest themselves in a fear of failure, rejection, reputation damage and self-image.  ‘Best not to try something and risk all the above.’ This leads to some key generic sales challenges:

  • Spending enough time effectively prospecting
  • Having the breadth and depth of conversation with our customers or at the right level (selling to executives)
  • Qualifying hard enough and following through relentlessly
  • Bouncing back from the inevitable mistakes, setbacks, rejections, and being ignored by our customers

Our comfort zones

If we intend to take new actions or try something which takes us out of our comfort zones, we can start to feel fear: That ape mind that we referred to earlier (or as we refer to it in our workshop ‘the chimp’.)

The voice inside your head!

This can manifest itself with the voice in our head warning us that we are not enough:

“you’re not smart enough”

“you’re not educated enough”

“You’re not experienced enough”

etc, etc.

Using fear as a productive tool

So how can we handle fear and more importantly use it to live up to our true potential?

We can start with a new perspective. In fact, if we don’t feel fear then we are probably not pushing ourselves enough. Fear is not something to avoid its is something to embrace and ‘lean into’. An absence of fear means we are stuck in our own comfort zones. The only thing that should scare us is a complete lack of experiencing fear!

FEAR= False Events Appearing Real

A useful acronym to help to rationalise our fears:  False Events Appearing Real. Summed up by the popular quote from Mark Twain ‘I’ve had a lot of worries in my life most of which never happened’

Time is the friend of fear

An aspect that pours fuel on the fire of fear is time.  We all have the propensity to put off something that is challenging and difficult by immersing ourselves in delaying tactics manifesting themselves as planning, procrastination or displacement activities (an unnecessary activity that we do because we are trying to delay something more difficult, challenging or unpleasant). All this does is build the apprehension and make it more difficult. Cut the fuel off at its source and adopt a JFDI Just F…..Do It ! approach. Grab that thorny nettle and make the call, do the meeting have the courageous conversation, put yourself forward to……

Feel the fear and do it anyway before somebody else does!

The only thing that makes a difference is personal action-Now.

We have all had the experience of failing to do something we wanted to do, and by the time we had got ourselves ready, somebody else had take the action we wished we had taken in the first place.

Over planning and preparation can be an excuse for those who haven’t invested in their own personal development and now use it as a reason to justify their last-minute reluctance.

Live up to your true potential

If we can, over time, learn to lean into our fears and take actions as we feel the fear, we can enable fear itself as a strategy to grow into our true potential.

Final word from Mark Twain again

‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not an absence of fear’-Mark Twain