United States Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager was the first human being to fly faster than the speed of sound. He did so on Oct. 14, 1947, while his X-1 plane’s cockpit shook heavily. His ground crew thought he was a goner. One can only imagine the skill set and mindset it took for him to accomplish this feat.
Top sales professionals are also good at shaking the sales cockpit. It can take the form of calling on bigger opportunities, new verticals, competing against a well-branded competitor or simply holding more truth-telling conversations with prospects and customers.
The sales professionals willing to shake the sales cockpit are also those that enjoy more success and satisfaction in sales.
So why aren’t more salespeople breaking through the sales barriers?
Good old fear of failure.
Fear of failure has many disguises, so let’s look at the top three I’ve observed during thousands of hours of training and coaching.
#1: Fear of being judged by others if they don’t achieve their goals.
The fix: Look at who is doing the judging. It’s generally the naysayers sitting on the sidelines that aren’t taking chances or risks. But boy, do they have a lot of time to judge and criticize those who do.
Do you really value the naysayers’ input? As President Theodore Roosevelt said:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Value input only from people that have stepped into the “sales arena.”
#2: Fear of rejection, hearing “no” and taking it personally.
The fix: Apply the EQ skill of reality testing. The prospect is not saying no to you, as they don’t really know you. How many of your prospects know what a great mom, dad, aunt or uncle you are? How many know that you volunteer your time to nonprofits? How many know your many acts of generosity with peers and colleagues?
They don’t know you, especially in the prospecting phase of business.
They are saying no to your product, services and company. Separate what you DO for a living from your concept of WHO you are.
#3: Imposter syndrome. This is the fear of being found out and is fueled by that little voice in your head that says you don’t know enough; the prospect knows more than you and you might look stupid or get stumped during a sales call.
Let’s go back to Chuck Yeager, arguably one of the best pilots ever. NASA wouldn’t admit him to the astronaut-training program because he had only a high school education. NASA thought only men with college degrees had the smarts to be strapped to a rocket and be launched into the heavens.
Thank goodness Yeager didn’t fall into the imposter-syndrome trap because of his lack of degrees. The voice in his head told him he was good enough.
The fix: Change your negative self-talk, most of which is a fiction novel you tell about yourself. So what if the prospect knows a lot? My best prospects and customers are REALLY good at sales. I don’t need to be smarter than them. What I need to do is facilitate great conversations with them where we share expertise and co-create great solutions.
So don’t let the critics – rightly taken to task by Teddy Roosevelt – determine your future. Be your own best friend, ignore the negative people and so-called experts, and, most of all, believe in yourself.
Yes, take the advice of experts and always strive to work with them.
But remember: You should have the final say on how you succeed.