Fear of Flying, Fear of Salespeople. Is There a Cure?

White knuckles, racing heart, dry mouth, irritability. I had developed a fear of flying. Don’t know how or why. After travelling for business for years, and with several million frequent flyer miles under my belt, it didn’t make sense. Then again, most phobias don’t.

It was a problem. My job required frequent air travel … usually weekly, sometimes several times a week. I had become afraid of turbulence and you can’t choose perfect weather for travel. Calm skies over Boston could turn into storms in Chicago; beautiful weather in Portland could become tornados in Oklahoma. Booze helped for a bit, but it’s not cool to show up for a meeting half in the bag.

I considered finding work that didn’t require travel but decided I loved my job and needed to fix the problem. Tried toughing it out for a while without much success and finally enrolled in a Fear of Flying program. The program worked! It was like getting a new lease on life … no more angst, no more fear of flying.

Fear of flying, also known as aviophobia, affects an estimated 25 million people in the US alone. That’s a lot of people. There are different reasons for the phobia, but the main ones seem to be fear of the unknown, lack of trust in the safety of the plane, or lack of trust in the competence of the pilot.

I learned a lot of really helpful stuff during the program, but the most important lesson I learned, and the lesson I want to share with you, is that the best weapon against fear is knowledge.

The best weapon against fear is knowledge.

Learning what happens during a flight removes the fear of the unknown. You know exactly what will happen 99% of the time … during take-off, during cruising and during landing. You learn that flying is over 200 times safer than travelling by car. You can check out the statistics of the airline you’re flying and see how safe they are. You look at the training and experience of the average pilot and can’t help but feel secure in their hands. Besides, they’re on the aircraft with you. You also learn that modern jets can handle much more stress than they ever encounter.

OK. What does overcoming fear of flying have to do with sales or selling? Lots as it turns out. Let’s look at it from the perspective of the customer. Let’s compare your potential new customer to a fearful flyer:

Fear of the unknown.

Your prospects probably don’t know you. As such they’ll have some concerns. They’ll …

  • Fear you’ll waste their time.

  • Fear you’ll try to sell them something they don’t need.

  • Fear you won’t understand their business.

  • Fear you’ll be too pushy.

  • Fear of all kinds of things. Make your own list.

Lack of trust in your company, product or service.

Your potential clients may not know your company, or they may have some concerns or misconceptions about it.

  • They’ve done business with their current vendor for years and are comfortable with them.

  • They don’t like change.

  • Your company may be new in the industry.

  • Your company may be introducing a new product.

  • The customer may have had poor experience with your company in the past.

  • There may be all kinds of hidden objections getting in the way of doing business.

Lack of trust in you as a salesperson.

  • They don’t know you or know anything about you.

  • They don’t like change. They’re comfortable with the person they’re currently buying from.

  • You’re male, female, black, white, speak different, look different, dress funny.

  • You wear a tie. You don’t wear a tie.

  • You drive a Ford, or you drive a Chevy. Maybe you drive a Toyota.

OK. There are all kinds of reasons people have for not buying from you. Does that mean you should give up? Hell no! Your job is to sell, not turn tail and run the first time you run into an objection. You won’t sell everyone you call on, but you will sell many of the people who’s concerns, fears and lack of trust you dispel.

Years ago, I called on a Candy and Tobacco Wholesaler in Maine. This gentleman supplied a bunch of small retailers in a remote part of the state. At the time, I sold Planter’s Peanuts and Curtiss Candy (Baby Ruth and Butterfinger). When I introduced myself, he straight away said, “I’m not buying from you people!”

Taken aback, I said, “May I ask why?”

He replied, “Your company would not supply me during the war, and now I don’t want to buy from you.”

He was talking about World War 2 … nearly 40 years prior.

As a salesperson, what can you do to get past some of the blocks you’ll face when prospecting for new business? What are some things you can do to open the sales conversation? What can you do to ease the customer’s concerns and create trust and rapport? 

David Sandler, creator of the Sandler Sales System, is credited with a process called the upfront contract or upfront agreement. It cuts through the initial fears and distrust and has you talking business in no time at all.

Look, I’m not suggesting it’s easy to get over fears and phobias. Sometimes it takes time and the right professional help. But it can be done.

Neither is it easy to overcome the fears and concerns of potential customers. They can build a wall that’s tough to get past. No matter how good you are, or how persistent, you won’t win them all. However, with the right mindset, and with the right tools, you will win a lot more than you lose.

I’m Oliver Connolly, and I help sales leaders build a sales force that consistently makes quota. To find out if I can help you, contact me at oliver@streetsmartsalesmanagement.com  No nonsense. No BS. Just guaranteed results.

For more information … https://www.streetsmartsalesmanagement.com 

Oliver Connolly