I reluctantly rolled back on a bench at my local YMCA at 5:05am Friday. I returned home to Nashville at 11pm the evening before completing a 4-day bender of a business trip. I was now preparing for one of those “check the box” workouts.
As I stretched, delaying the inevitable workout, I heard the ring of my phone through my ear buds. When I pulled the phone from my pocket, the caller ID glowed “Unavailable.” My heart stopped – the only person who disguised their phone number and would call at 5am was my mom. This is bad. I answered, “Ma, what’s wrong?!”
After what felt like a full minute elapsed, I heard the sweetest motherly British accent say “Uh, Um, Mr. Crowley – I found your healthcare sales mentor website and I must learn to flog a techie product.” (Insert awkward pause.) “Excuse me, my name is Emma Doubtfire.”
Ok, that’s not Mom and what did she say?
After an hour of listening to a dialect so thick that I felt like she was speaking Mandarin, I figured out Emma’s problem.
First, she didn’t calculate time zones properly.
Second, Emma (not her real name) is a product owner for an Electronic Medical Records company in the UK. She was previously a Practice Manager at a dental practice for 20 years. After she successfully implemented the EMR into her practice, she was recruited by the company and was hired as a subject matter expert.
To date, her job was to conduct demos of the software to leads provided by the outside sales team. Recently, management informed her that she would receive a quota and would be responsible for flogging – British for selling.
Emma was petrified! During our conversation, she toggled between anxious nervousness when contemplating a quota then dove into a depressed state as we discussed her fear of rejection.
After she calmed down I asked a series of questions:
- How do you convince your husband to do things he is resistant to do?
- When you were a practice manager, how did you convince your doctors to give up the comfort of paper charts for an EMR?
- In life and work, what is the greatest barrier you face when trying to convince people to change?
- How do to get stubborn people to see things through your lens?
As we talked about life and work, she began to see that our success boils down to our ability to motivate others. As much as I wanted to deliver the punch line, I refrained.
After several hours, the light bulb went off – “Brilliant! We’re all in sales, whether we like it or not!”
Some people sign up for our line of work because they enjoy the thrill of the sale. I withstand the constant rejection knowing when I win, the victories are so much more meaningful and rewarding.
Others loathe selling and salespeople. They believe it’s beneath them. They think of sales as sleazy and slimy. That mindset is antiquated and is rooted back to when salespeople were in control.
In the past, when a buyer wanted information on a product – they had to go through the salesperson. Today’s buyer is empowered with unlimited information about our product, our company and our people. They are socially connected and networked sharing their experiences – both positive and negative.
The sleazy salesman with slicked back hair and pit stains is no longer effective because buyers can cut them out of the buying process. The good news for the rest of us is that image will continue to dissipate as today’s salesman evolves.
So how do you get comfortable with selling when you’ve never be trained, held a quota or dealt with constant rejection? Here are three ways to overcome sales anxiety:
- Read – Some of the greatest business minds in the world spend years putting all their thoughts and advice in a book. You can absorb decades of their experience in a few hours. Here is a list of my must read sales books and what’s on my to-read list.
- Make rejection a goal – When I began this website, my goal was to get a hater. I knew that if my message was heard by enough people, eventually I’d find a troll that wouldn’t like my message and hide under the anonymity of the Internet. By making a negative outcome a goal, I was excited the day I received my first hate mail because I was reaching enough people with my message.
- Focus on problem finding rather than problem solving – Old school sales trainers attempt to persuade new sales reps into believing they aren’t salespeople – they’re problem solvers. This comes from a sales technique whereby the rep asks a litany of questions to prospective buyers to elicit a particular pain point. When the buyer sites a pain point addressed by the product, the rep demonstrates how product is the perfect cure. Here’s the problem, buyers know what you’re doing. They’ve lived with that pain point and found workarounds. Worst yet, your competition was just in the office claiming to solve the same pain point even better, faster or cheaper than your product. Spend time learning the customer’s business. Dig deep to find the customer’s hidden problems. Look for problems in the unforeseen future. Seek to understand the problems of the whole organization, not just the buyer.
The ability to find real problems is a skill Emma brings to the table that her competition could never provide. As a subject matter expert she has insight that would take years for a “salesperson” to develop.
If you’re new to sales or just got handed a quota, embrace it. You’ve done this before – you just didn’t realize it. Or maybe you didn’t want to admit it.
So how’d Emma get my phone number? LinkedIn. Check out this post on keeping your contact info up-to-date in LinkedIn.
If you found this helpful, please share it or comment below. If you didn’t, let me know that as well. It would help me hit my hater quota!