Overcoming FEAR Spells Sales Success, Says Author

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The business news may be scary these days, but facing FEAR – Fictional Evils Appearing Real – can help businesspeople overcome today’s challenges and thrive, according to Lenann McGookey Gardner, an international sales and marketing consultant. She offers these tips to move beyond fear to sales success.

On some level, they think salespeople will say and do anything just to get their wallet. So imagine how excited those same people are when they have to sell their own services. They hate salespeople – now they have to be one.

The business news may be scary these days, but facing FEAR – Fictional Evils Appearing Real – can help businesspeople overcome today’s challenges and thrive, according to Lenann McGookey Gardner, an international sales and marketing consultant.

Even with the stock market reeling, banks failing, home prices falling and retirement accounts suffering, businesses are still functioning, and many continue to do well. Those who look past their fears and continue to build relationships, trust, and sales will do fine.

"I had my single best day closing business on August 20, 2008,” says Gardner. “We closed more business on that day than ever in our 16-year history. It’s not 'bad all over.'"

Gardner offers these tips to move beyond fear to sales success.

Thoughts = self-fulfilling prophesy

“I believe your thoughts are pretty much a self-fulfilling prophesy – what you think about becomes your reality. So if you think all of business is a mess, you’ll continue to experience your business being a mess,” said Gardner. “Most people are living in fear saying ‘I hope this doesn’t happen’ or ‘I hope that doesn’t happen.’ Instead, decide what you DO want to happen, write that down, and look at it regularly.”

“I, for example, want to go to Australia,” she explained. “So I am regularly reminding myself that I want to get some work in Australia.” The last time Gardner decided to find work in a new area – Africa – she had a paid engagement there booked within two weeks. Even though she didn’t know a soul in Africa, she discovered that one of her U.S. clients had Africa operations, and those people hired her to provide sales training. “The connection became obvious when I clearly identified what I wanted,” she said.

Nothing to fear but fear itself

FDR had it right. “Most people are untrusting of, maybe even afraid of, salespeople,” explained Gardner. “On some level, they think salespeople will say and do anything just to get their wallet. So imagine how excited those same people are when they have to sell their own services. They hate salespeople – now they have to be one.”

“I’ve learned that often the fear comes down to not wanting to overspend,” says Gardner. “When your prospect seems to feel that way, let her know that you understand that she doesn’t want to overspend – that is reasonable, of course! Ask questions to reveal other concerns or ‘pain’ she might have. Then ask how she will deal with that pain you’ve uncovered – what options does she have to address it? Once you’re clear about the value your service represents to her, ask how she can calculate a return on this investment she’s considering in your services – to make sure the investment is proportional to the value she will receive.”

Move on from the past

Gardner recently worked with clients in Vietnam. In Hanoi, she expected to find a city scarred by the Vietnam War. Instead, she found a thriving city where people are building their careers. She also visited the remains of the Hoa Lo prison, where John McCain was incarcerated for five and a half years.

“The prison, and especially the mannequins of shackled human beings inside it, were the only reminder to me of what had happened there,” said Gardner. “Even John McCain has moved beyond the war years, and was even partly responsible for the U.S. normalizing relations with Vietnam. The message to me was ‘Move on, move on!’”

“The Vietnamese I met weren’t dwelling on what they call the ‘American War,’ they were aspiring, I think, to become a mini-China with an equally vibrant economy. Whatever your sales results to date, you can do this too -- or you can stay stuck focused on the bad news,” she added.

For more ideas on achieving sales success in challenging economic times, email Lenann@YouCanSell.com.

Lenann McGookey Gardner, a Harvard MBA and a past #1 worldwide sales rep at Xerox, offers keynote speeches on state-of-the-art selling and closing skills, executive and sales coaching for business success, and workshops. Her book Got Sales? The Complete Guide to Today’s Proven Methods for Selling Services is the one guidebook highlighting all the latest research and data on what’s working now in contemporary selling. More information is available at http://www.YouCanSell.com.

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