28 September 2006

The first step to sales success is to overcome fear

By: Laura Laaman

What's the thing that stops people from realizing ultimate professional success? The economy, competition, oil prices? Nope. As challenging as those external factors can be, nothing comes close to the power of your largest obstacle: fear.

We all have it. When we fear something we believe can harm us, our body has two primary reactions: fight (defend our position) or flight (run like heck). However, we also have a powerful ability to analyze and understand. We can step back from our fear and determine if it is worthy of the flight instinct.

Fear in business can take on many faces. Owners can fear adding staff or even advertising. It's not the fear of the employee or the fear of seeing one of your ads in the paper. It's the fear of the employee or the ad not working out and your losing on the investment.

Sales employees' most typical fear is of prospecting or cold calling because they fear being blasted with rejection.

Top business performers have developed a multiple-step approach to conquering their fears. And you can learn from them.

First, ask yourself a few important questions. Try to identify what you actually fear. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you fail. Most of the time in business, it's either a fear of loss or a fear of embarrassment.

Next, identify what you could gain if the task or strategy works out well. This positive vision helps overshadow the negative fear.

Last, ask yourself what the price is to you or your family if you don't overcome this fear.

Top performers use what's called desensitizing or, more simply stated, positive action. They do what they fear. And each time they do it, they fear it less. This positive momentum breaks the immobilizing hold that fear can have on you.

Remember when you were learning to ride a bicycle? Remember the fear of falling down and getting hurt? The upside, which won out, was riding your bike with your friends.

Role-playing is a way to desensitize yourself. For example, managers can role-play with someone in advance of meeting with an employee on a difficult issue, running through possible employee reactions such as the dreaded tears or even anger. Human-resources managers are great partners for this exercise. Once you are able to successfully stay calm and clearly explain your position, you will feel more confident and, therefore, do a better job.

Top salespeople, who have less fear than others, understand that when a prospect rejects them, it's not personal. But they do take it professionally. They review the call and critique what they could have done better.

Overcoming fear is a lifelong quest. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you try but fail. The prospective customer hangs up on you? So what?

There are two types of people: those who try, stumble and get up and try again, and those who fear stumbling and never even try. Guess which type is more successful.

QUICKINFO

Key steps forovercoming fear:

- Try to identify what you are actually afraid of.

- Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you fail. Most of the time in business, it's either a fear of loss or a fear of embarrassment.

- Identify what you could gain if the task or strategy works out well. This positive vision helps overshadow the negative fear.

- Ask yourself what the price is to you or your family if you don't overcome this fear.

Author:
Laura Laaman is an award-winning sales, management and customer service speaker and trainer. For free sales tips and newsletter go to www.lauralaaman.com or call 1-888-SELL-MORE.

14 September 2006

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