Entrepreneurs often struggle when they start doing sales cold calls. They hate calling customers to drum up business and they’re not good at it, either. Their approach is too timid and they give up too soon when they encounter resistance. Meanwhile, they don’t manage objections well, so they don’t bring home the bacon.
For example, one of the guys on our team had problems with cold calling, initially. This seemed strange because he was an audacious, bold and outgoing person. But if you told him to sell on the phone, he would turn into a frightened little chicken.
The cause was obvious: fear of failure. He was scared of rejection. He also rationally understood that his fear did not serve a positive purpose, but he was still stuck in it.
So, how could we get him unstuck?
I decided to challenge him with a new task: fail with every call. For the rest of the day, I told him he should call people and make them hang up on him. His mission was to fail miserably.
How could we shake him up and change this negative mental state? I decided to challenge him with a new task: fail with every call. For the rest of the day, I told him he should call people and make them hang up on him. His mission was to fail miserably.
To make it fun, I told him to fail in a different way with each call. “Start by speaking painfully slow and unenthusiastic,” I suggested.
Our little coaching conversation turned into the center of attention at the office. Everyone on our team was looking at him when he made the first call. His discomfort was obvious. But he played along. He spoke each word painfully, slowly, with excruciatingly long silences and pauses. It was painful to hear.
Everyone in the office had to tap into the core of their self control to avoid an outburst of collective laughter. But there was no holding back once the person on the other end of the line hung up on him. The whole office went crazy, including him.
Then our team came up with a new challenge for the second call: stuttering. And so he did; he stuttered his way through half a conversation. After ten of these calls the atmosphere in the whole room had totally changed.
Transformation and Closed Deals
I looked him in the eyes and said: ”Now go get’em. Close deals. Take everything you’ve got and make it happen. Have fun!” And suddenly he was a different person. A total transformation of energy: he became fearless and unstoppable, a relentless sales machine.
But what exactly caused this transformation?
It wasn’t new insight; he already knew that it was simply fear holding him back. But he had now transferred that insight from a logical, rational level to an instinctive insight. He had emotionally internalized what he already knew mentally by making failure real. And that led to the breakthrough in his behavior.
If you need help with sales anxiety, consider these tips:
- Address the issue and verbalize it.
- Instead of trying to avoid failure, aim for failure.
- Be creative about different ways to successfully achieve failure.
- Have fun and be silly. It will unlock the secret vault of sales power deep inside of you.
Now that you have experienced what failure feels like, realize there is nothing to fear. Now you can crush it and see how you perform once you aim for success.
How have you lost your fear of failure in the past? Please share your stories and experiences so we can all let go of our fears and live more adventurous and successful lives.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Steli Efti is the Co-Founder / CEO of Close.io and an advisor to several startups and entrepreneurs. A version of this article was originally published on LinkedIn. Connect with @Steli on Twitter.
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