Has Fear Infected Your Sales Process?

“It’s a 100 million dollar must win” the VP of business development told me. Her tone was a combination of vehemence infected by fear. There was clearly an “or else” hanging over her head and it took only one brief sentence for me to pick up on that fear.

Imagine what the prospective buyer would think if they detected this fear. Fearful sales people and processes do not inspire confidence in the seller, and for $100 million the buyer expects confidence.

Fear does not sell. What do you fear and how often does that fear infect, and torpedo, your marketing and sales?

1. Fear of saying the wrong thing. In the case of this particular company, the final piece of the sales process was a sales presentation. The BD lead was apoplectic at the thought that one of her team might say a wrong word. There are lots of words in a 90-minute sales presentation. How is it possible to ensure that not one of the words is wrong? It’s not. And furthermore, she didn’t even know what the wrong word was. Just fear that they might say “a wrong word.”

This fear paralyzes everyone. They question every thought. They doubt their own knowledge. There is no room for personality, for being present in the moment, for showing confidence. Even a script can’t help because you don’t know what word is a wrong word.
Then the worst fear materializes: the contract goes to another company.

Leadership from the top down needs to encourage confidence and avoid threats. Fear of reprisals is not the foundation for the confidence that attracts buyers.

2. Fear of offering a bad solution. I’ve worked with companies that tried to cram every single thing they have to offer into one package. The thinking is that the buyer will like something! Or that they are creating an opportunity for negotiations. If the buyer doesn’t like options A, B, and D, they’ll drop the price for just C.

The antidote for this is so incredibly easy: ask the buyer what outcomes they want and need. Buyers want to do business with providers who communicate well and, again, with confidence. When you spend time–sometimes a lot of time–up front, getting to know them, you’ll tailor your offer to ensure you deliver their desired outcomes. Make it easy to say ‘yes’!

The business development folks who stop the hustle and bustle and make time for in-depth conversations with buyers and prospects sell more and increase the likelihood of future sales.

3. Fear of the competition. Boy, do I get my back up when I hear sales experts tell companies that they have to know their competition backwards and forwards. There are 2 reasons.

1) It wastes time and energy. That time could be much better spent cultivating relationships with your current buyers and your prospects. There are only 40 hours in a week. Why should you divert your attention from your buyers to your competitors? You can’t get that time back.

2) The other reason is that selling your company as an alternative to a competitor is a very weak position. Is that all you have to offer? Your product or service is better than the competitor’s in this way and that way? Better is subjective, and even if you quantify the differences, you are not promoting your strengths. And you do not know what the competition is telling the prospect or buyer. Stop it!

Learn and understand, to the utmost depth and breadth, what your company offers. The getting-to-know-the-prospect process begins with this question to yourself “What outcomes do we deliver to our buyers?” Outcomes, everyone, not features and benefits, nor inputs, nor time nor ROI. Forget the competition.

No More Fear?

When you want to really connect with a buyer, ask them “What does success look like to you?” Then listen and make sure you understand, deeply and completely, how your company delivers that success. Tell the buyer, using their language. This is powerful.

You’ll no longer have to worry about saying the wrong word, or about offering a bad solution, or about the competition.

Fear undermines trust and stifles innovation and improvement. Fear may motivate someone to action, but it does not inspire anyone to be their best, to shine, to create, to care and to help.

I wish I could say that the VP set aside her fear and worked with me and that they won. But she did not. She insisted that only a scripted presentation with the speakers uttering the exact words she wrote would be okay. I declined to work in this fear-driven setting. Her company did not win.

If you’d like to be more prosperous by this time next year, and you’re thinking now is a good time to set aside or overcome your fear, let me know. I’d like to find out more and together we’ll see if working together would be a good fit. 703-801-0345.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.