Getting Out of Your Own Way

fear running away

Anyone who knows me in person knows that I am incapable of passing up an opportunity to make a “Dune” reference. (Which is timely right now as “Dune: Part Two” is in theaters!) I’m also incapable of passing up an opportunity to make references to the movie “Airplane!” (1980), but that’s not important right now.

Back on track here, there’s a quote from the book that comes in handy a lot. You probably already know it:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

What stops us quite often is fear: fear of failure, fear of the unknown, etc.

Fear of failure and fear of rejection are things that hold salespeople back from achieving more. I’ve seen it, and more importantly, experienced it for myself. I still remember the first hardware sale I made when I started selling electronics. It was a VCR and its list price was over a thousand dollars. Just typing that out makes me feel old. Anyway, I remember it not just because it was my first sale, but more importantly, I remember both my apprehension pitching it to the customer, as well as my relief, shock even, at the customer saying yes, she’d take it.

Over time I’d say that even while salespeople learn to put aside their fear of rejection, it never goes away completely. Rather, the parameters under which you feel that fear change. Often just the price tag that makes you pause increases.

Years ago, I had a meeting with one of my biggest clients where they shared a metric that was frustrating them. Almost all of their retail salespeople, both in their retail operation and their B2B teams, were incapable of getting add-on attachment sales of any accessory that cost more than $50. It was enormously frustrating for them; none of their efforts to fix that worked to move the needle. But they were coming at it from the wrong angle. Their salespeople were afraid. They were afraid of scaring off their customer. They were afraid that if they presented too many products, or products that cost too much, the customer would say “NO,” to not just the attachment sale, but to the whole transaction.

And I get it. We’ve all been there.

The solution is to break your sales team out of that mindset where they’re gatekeeping the customer’s budget but learning how to sell from the top down. First of all: it’s not your job to decide how much money the customer will spend. That’s their job.

Secondly, there’s psychology at work here: no one is ever offended by being shown the absolute best, most expensive things that you have to offer.

No one is ever offended by being shown something amazing. If they love it and can afford it, they’ll take it. If they can’t afford it they’ll ask you to show them something else. You may or may not end up selling the best, most expensive thing you’ve got every time, but if you don’t show it off first you won’t ever sell any, ever.

I was able to help my dealer with that issue by doing store visits that focused on sales training, addressing sticker shock specifically, and coaching salespeople to get out of their own way on this, and start selling from the top. And it works. Over several months their sales metrics climbed, and their team were no longer hung up on worrying that something was too expensive for their customers to buy.