This is What Will Happen When You Confront Your Fears and Do it Anyway

Joe was having a bad month. Sales were terrible and, to make matters worse, he’d lost several orders to a competitor. Their product was not even close to the quality of his. It was much less expensive, and his customers were stocking it like crazy.

Joe knew in his heart that the less expensive and inferior product would not do the job his customers needed it for. He was becoming frustrated and discouraged. He didn’t know what to do. You see, he’d learned early in his career not to bad mouth the competition. 

He didn’t feel comfortable telling his customers the lower-priced products were junk. Touting all the features and benefits of his stuff wouldn’t work either. Heck, his competition said the exact same things about theirs. The difference? Joe’s products worked, the competitive product failed in a short time.

Joe was calling on a major customer at the end of the month. He wondered why he was even going through the motions. What the hell, he thought, this sales call would go just like most of his previous calls this month – the customer would think that all widgets are the same and then buy the lowest priced one. 

He knew he could never match his competition’s price, so he decided to cut the sales call short. After all, why spend an hour going through the motions, and talking about a product that his customer will never buy. 

He thanked his customer for seeing him and then put the issue right on the table. That way he wouldn’t waste any more time. “Mr. Customer, I’ve been finding many companies like yours look at these widgets as a commodity. They think they’re all pretty much the same. Then they make their decision to buy strictly on price. I don’t suppose you’re one of them, are you?”  

Imagine his surprise when the customer answered, “Of course, price is a consideration, but it’s not the most important one. I need a widget that fits my needs.”

By sheer accident, Joe had stumbled on the one sure way of dealing with the roadblocks that get in his way of making sales. He put the perceived issue on the table up front, and then he handled it!

Sometimes the blocks are real, and sometimes they’re not. The reality is, if it’s been a problem for you in the past, you’ll perceive it to be a problem until you fix it. If it’s a real issue, it will not go away on its own. You must deal with it. 

It’s far better to find out early in the sales process if you have a deal breaker. If you do have a real deal breaker and there’s nothing that you can do about it, it’s better to find out early and move on. 

If your customer must have red widgets and yours are green, and you can’t paint them red, it’s over. Go sell them to someone else. On the other hand, if your prospect is currently using red widgets and yours are green, don’t assume that he must have red. Ask him. “Mr. Customer, I notice that you are stocking only red widgets and I only sell green ones. Is that a problem for you?” 

Maybe your customer is fine with green. Don’t make assumptions that could cost you the sale. Above all, don’t hide the fact your widgets are green and ship them anyway. You’ll get them back, and you’ll have an upset customer besides. 

Deal with the problem up front. How you deal with the potential roadblock is very important. Watch your body language and your tonality. “On occasion we’ve found that some companies prefer to stay with a specific color. Our stock comes in green. I don’t suppose that might be a concern for you?” “Well, I didn’t think it would be, but I wanted to make sure.”

It’s as simple as that. Identify your fear or concern, put it on the table, deal with it and move on. 

Potential roadblocks and fears can come in many shapes and forms.They can be product related, have to do with logistics, even positioning or pricing. They are anything that causes you to settle for less than your full potential.

Years ago, I was on my way to wrap up a contract with a client. We’d agreed in principle to work together, but we hadn’t talked about price. I had a fee structure in mind. It was based on what I thought the client could afford.

I called a business friend to bounce the pricing off her. We talked about the scope of work … what the client needed, what my role would be, how much time it would take, and so on. Then she came back with a suggested price, and I almost drove off the road! It was four times the amount I was going to charge.

OK, I thought, maybe I should charge a bit more, but there’s no way I can charge four times as much.

Long story short, I charged the amount she suggested. The client got results, so she was happy. I got paid what I was worth, so I was happy. By the way, I earned every nickel of the money.

Look, your fears won’t go away on their own. They won’t just disappear into thin air. They’ll hang around and bite you in the butt unless you deal with them. It may not be comfortable … that’s why we call them fears. If I can do it, so can you.

Here’s the simple process:

  • Identify your fear or roadblock.
  • Acknowledge it’s a problem.
  • Put it on the table.
  • Deal with it. It will either get resolved or it won’t.
  • Move on. Next!

Don’t be held hostage to your fears. Confront them. You’ll find they’re not as bad as you think. You’ll be glad you did.

I’m Oliver Connolly and I help sales management professionals and owners create a sales team that consistently makes their quotas.

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Oliver Connolly