6 tips to overcome your fear and start selling

by Ben Paul

To be successful in your career, you will need to develop and build new relationships with people. However, does the mere thought of this start to make you feel anxious?

When you’re looking to change how you do things in any way, even if it is just a small adjustment it can be very difficult. In challenging or highly complex markets, that fear of doing something different can really hold you back. In fact, if you tend to see risks rather than the opportunity in a new situation, this behavioural preference can prevent you from building new relationships. (If you are unsure of your behavioural preferences you can discover what they are by taking our free octagon behavioural assessment here)

I often ask people, if you were given the choice, “Would you rather go back to your desk and get on with your day job, or go out and talk to a total stranger?”

The majority of people often admit they’d rather go back to their day job, in fact some would rather do pretty much anything instead of going and talking with someone new. Yet deep down for many professionals, they know that in order to be successful in their chosen fields they are going to have to confront their fears face-on and do just that.

With the emergence of “digital disruption” and the likelihood that your technical expertise can be replaced by Artificial Intelligence, the need to be ‘human relationship based’ on trust will, alongside innovation, be one of the key areas where you’ll be able to differentiate, provide value to other organisations, and more importantly the individuals within them.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Muhammad Ali

How to overcome fear

Firstly, it is very normal for you to have this apprehension. A great deal of companies all around the globe, invest in a variety of programmes to help build the confidence of their people, particularly when it comes to going out and developing relationships. Below are 6 simple things that you can do to start building confidence.

  1. Hi Ho Silver! Don’t be a Lone Ranger. There’s some real advantages in pairing up with someone. The obvious one is that you’re not alone. You can help each other out by sharing the talking and making the approaches to new people. When you’re in the meeting, it is really invaluable, as with defined roles it helps that while one of you is talking the other is really listening, and as we know – clients like being listened to.
  2. Talent is a myth, uncrack the code. Yes, some people are naturally more outgoing and it may seem that unless you are one of these extroverted people that you won’t be able to build relationships. This isn’t true. With the right practice, you can start to understand others better and also start to ask questions which build rapport and trust. The key is to practice or rehearse meetings (yes role-play – yikes!) in a safe environment which will give you confidence in the moment, in your actual meeting.
  3. Give yourself “realistic” change targets. If talking to new people is hard for you, it probably isn’t the best idea to put too much pressure on yourself and decide that you will talk to 5 new people a week. Maybe just 1 is fine. Like anything you learn for the first time; like cycling the 1st stage is the hardest. Even when you’re up and riding it feels clunky and strange. But if you keep peddling, with time and practice eventually it will feel natural.
  4. Don’t overthink it just do it. Yes, by all means seek help, read books take training etc, but don’t let that be a barrier to trying these new skills. Until you start putting any new skill into practice it is simply a waste of time and money. You probably won’t get it right every time but you’ll learn the most from doing, and if you have good coaching and mentoring as you go, it may help you enormously.
  5. Failure will help you succeed. All the best fail, it is only through making mistakes that we truly learn. Simon Cowell, famously failed with one of his early record labels, being declared bankrupt and having to live with his parents. He is now worth over $550 million and very successful in the same industry. Michael Jordan, famously put all his sporting success down to failure as you can see in this brilliant Nike advert. And yes I know the idea of failure may be the hardest one for you to face but take comfort that it isn’t the end of the world.
  6. Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words…. Well they certainly can hurt but saying the wrong thing or asking the wrong question in a business meeting, is unlikely to lead to serious harm. In most cases it will be awkward for a second or two and then the conversation will move on. This is also why taking a colleague along will help you, as they can come in almost immediately with a different question.

So if you put the above steps in place you can overcome your natural fears and start to develop new relationships that will hopefully help make your career even more successful.

This post first appeared on Ben’s LinkedIn page. If you’d like to comment or join in this conversation, please visit the post here.