“I didn’t know that it was going to be this way. If I can’t meet my sales goals, then I’m out of a job.”
Recently I was talking to someone I know after they’d just returned from orientation at their new job.
They shared with me that they were more than a little intimidated and pretty overwhelmed because this new position was focused on being a salesperson much more than they’d anticipated.
When your livelihood is determined by making sales, there can be a lot of pressure.
Whether you’re a small business owner, work in retail, own a direct sales business, are an entrepreneur, or basically in any job out there, encountering sales is inevitable.
The hard part is that while the act of selling isn’t bad, dirty, slimy, or rude; we’ve been conditioned to believe that it is through movies, tv, and bad experiences with people who weren’t good at sales.
Here are a few examples:
Selling, at it’s heart, means that you’re showing someone how a service or product that you can provide will add value to their life, and then helping them understand how it will solve their problems or fulfill their desires. As a result, you receive compensation, whether that’s in wages, a contract, or even just in satisfaction and thanks.
Sales connects people with value, satisfaction, benefits, and good experiences…
When selling is done right, BOTH people win.
We’re conditioned to think that’s impossible: Selling is either one person or the other getting ripped off, right?
We’ve been painted this picture in culture and media of selling being a selfish act, a bulldoze. It’s been compared to hunting for prey, that the person selling is the predator and the customer is the unsuspecting prey. The person selling is the thief who has to get in and get out as fast as they can before the customer realizes what they’ve gotten themselves in to.
The epitome of this misperception is the stereotype of the “Used Car Salesman”: slimy, selfish, sneaky, pushy, rude, uncaring, greedy, the list goes on.
And most of us, either consciously or unconsciously, have this false perception so engrained in us that whenever we are presented with a situation that feels even remotely close to this picture, our instincts are triggered:
RUN! DEFENSES UP! SHIELDS AT MAXIMUM! RESIST! DIG YOUR HEELS IN!
We are so repulsed by this idea that we do everything in our power to avoid people who put off this vibe and to avoid being perceived by others in this light.
This is one reason why selling, especially direct sales, gets such a bad rap:
Because most of us are really inexperienced in selling or being sold to in a positive light. Without the right training and mindset, people don’t know how to connect people with value, they unwittingly sabotage themselves by using the same broken selling methods that would send them running for the hills if the tables were turned.
We’ve all encountered a similar scenario:
A friend from years ago reaches out to you on Facebook wanting to reconnect. Seems harmless enough, right? WRONG.
Five minutes into the conversation you realize that this person doesn’t want to reconnect, they’ve just started a business that is selling a revolutionary product that turns you earwax into sustainable paperweights.
Three hours later and you haven’t bought any earwax paperweights; the only thing you’ve accomplished is discover that you have a remarkable talent for deflecting commitment and inventing over a dozen ways to passively tell someone “No thank you."
My brother even had this happen to him on what he thought was a date!
He showed us to get coffee and to have some pleasant conversation only to leave hours later thinking, “Um, what just happened?!” and with a certainty that they would not be getting “coffee” again.
In this article I’m going to address some of the biggest fears and misperceptions about selling, and share with you thoughts that will hopefully help reframe your perception of yourself and selling.
This refreshed perspective will prove invaluable in helping you grow your business, make more income, and stop feeling “icky” when you’re interacting with clients and customers.
Real Life Fears About Selling:
A while back I asked the Frontrunners community what you felt your biggest obstacle was, and by a large margin “Selling and Confidence in Business” was the number one issue.
Here are some real obstacles from folks who are trying to take the step forward but keep freezing up:
"I'm not a salesperson."
Of course you are. We sell things all the time; we just aren't aware of it.
That movie, product, or event you recommended to a friend recently that they bought? You sold them on that.
Every time you share something with someone in a way that compels them to buy it, use it, or go to it, you are selling.
You're better at selling than you think.
We have an incorrect view of selling: that it is a selfish thing; that it is meant to take and not give. But this couldn't be further from the truth.
Here’s an example:
Remember that really delicious meal you got at a restaurant recently? That added value to you, and your tummy, in the form of deliciously tasty goodness.
How did you find that restaurant? Perhaps a friend told you, or you saw a commercial or an ad, or perhaps you browsed online and thought it looked like a good choice. Well, there was something compelling enough to get you to make the decision to go there. You got sold on the idea.
How did you choose that item on the menu that ended up being so delicious? Maybe someone told you to get it, maybe the server recommended it, maybe you saw an ad for that dish, maybe there was a really tasty looking picture in the menu, maybe the description sounded awesome and made your mouth water. Either way, again, you got sold on the idea of buying that food. And you were happy as a result of it.
Would you consider that a bad experience? Would you feel dirty or slimy going back to that awesome restaurant and eating that delicious food again? Probably not. Why? Because selling isn't dirty.
Selling is neither good nor bad, it is neutral.
Our perception of selling is determined by who is selling, how they sell, and what is being sold. Selling is a tool used to connect people with products, services, ideas, and experiences. Selling helps us make decisions.
“Sometimes I feel my business is a scam. I’m being selfish by asking people for sales. I have trouble believing my service/product/time is worth anything, so I sell myself short or let people disrespect me."
This is commonly referred to as “Imposter Syndrome”:
A concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
Something that has really helped me combat this “Imposter Syndrome”, is evaluating my business from the outside looking in: Stepping outside of my personal business and pretending that the business is someone else’s.
I do this by asking myself questions like these:
- Does the business look like a scam from the outside? (Is it professional? Well-executed?)
- How is it being communicated by the business owner (Me)? (Clearly communicated? Understandable? Mysterious? Are they reluctant to share specifics?)
- Do I get the feeling that they are sincere, or selfish?
- If this were my first interaction with this company, would I want to come back?
Is selling SELFISH?
Let’s explore this thought: Is a barber selfish for charging to cut people’s hair? Or a restaurant selfish for charging for food? Is a gas station owner selfish because he doesn’t give it away for free?
Is it selfish to expect compensation for a service or a product that benefits the person using it? Not at all.
We make purchases every single day and don’t stop twice to think that the owners of those businesses are selfish for charging money. It makes sense to us because the thing they are providing has value.
However, when it comes to our OWN business, our own product, our own service, we can have a really hard time charging for it.
Let’s provide more perspective:
If you were a server at a burger joint, your employer would expect customers to pay for the burgers. And you would expect your employer to pay you for providing service to the customers.
Because the employer needs to charge for the burgers to cover the cost of the supplies, payroll, facility, and to make a profit so that they can make a living as well.
And you need to get paid for your time serving because that time is valuable. You could have spent it doing something else, and the service you are providing is making money for the employer.
Finally, the burger is worth money too because it is bringing satisfaction and nutrition to the customer. (Let’s assume it’s a healthy burger 😃)
In the context of a “Normal” business, paying for Service, Product, and Time is totally normal and familiar. So why is it so hard to do this for our own business?
Here are some possible causes:
- We’re uncomfortable being "The Boss” because we’ve never has to ask for sales before.
- We’re uncomfortable or inexperienced talking about money
- We’re comfortable talking to people in general.
- We have a misperception of what being “wealthy” means. (Selfish, snobby, greedy, etc.)
- We don’t value our product - Either we don’t think it’s worth what we’re asking, or we don’t think it works.
- We don’t value ourselves - We have a low value of ourselves, so we place a low value on our business as a result. We don’t think we are worth more than a certain amount, so we subconsciously avoid going over it.
- You believe that your self-worth is connected to your business. So if someone rejects your product/service, they are rejecting YOU. - And by attempting to avoid this pain, you inadvertently sabotage your business.
- We don’t believe we are “legitimate”. - We think we need to fit a certain benchmark before things become “easy” or “automatic”. (Evaluate what you think makes a business “legitimate”: Size? Income? High Profile? Experience? # of employees?)
In order to overcome these NEGATIVE misperceptions, you’ve got to instill POSITIVE beliefs to rewire your mindset.
Install some antivirus software to remove the malware that’s corrupting your brain.
- Start with YOU - Uncover why you’ve got a low view of yourself in regards to money or business. It could be bad experiences, things someone said to you, how you grew up. Begin the process of reconciling with those and affirming yourself. you are VALUABLE.
- Practice - This gives you confidence because you’re ready. When you know your stuff, you don’t have to be afraid of blanking.
- Affirm the value of your business, products and services - You have to explain to yourself why those things are valuable and beneficial to other people. You have to sell YOURSELF on your business before you can sell anybody else.
- Stop thinking about yourself - Being self-conscious STILL counts as thinking about yourself. And if you’re thinking about yourself the whole time, there’s no way you’re going to be able to make someone else feel valued.
- Celebrate your victories - Even the little ones. This will give you added confidence.
- Separate your self-worth from your business-worth - You aren’t valuable because of your income or product; you’re valuable because you are who you are. When you believe this, you won’t take rejection personally.
- Remember that even if you are only one step ahead of someone, you can help them move forward - You don’t have to be an expert, just take them along the path that you’ve already walked and teach as you learn.
"I’m afraid That people are going to start avoiding me or ignoring me because they feel like all I want is their business. I can't shake the lie."
Solving this issue starts with you.
People will perceive you through the lens that you perceive yourself.
If you have a negative underlying belief about yourself in regards to your business, then that negativity will pollute every interaction you have with people. They see you that way because YOU see you that way.
You have to solidify with yourself WHY what you’re doing is good.
Because if you fundamentally believe that it is good, then that belief gives you ground to stand on when you encounter insecurities and fear.
NOTE: If you genuinely know that what you’re doing for business isn’t moral or ethical, and isn’t focused on helping people, then perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it and you should re-evaluate your path.
The core principle here is: If you don’t believe that your business is good for people, then they won’t be able to either.
The key to shaking a lie is to replace it with the TRUTH. You have to go out of your way to prove to YOURSELF that you don’t just want people’s money. You have to intentionally be selfless toward people you want to do business with.
One big belief that anchors my mindset is,
“I don’t need anything FROM them, I want to GIVE something TO them.”
Evaluate your motives:
- “AM I being selfishly motivated?”
- “Do I care more about the sale then I do about the person?”
- “Do I care more about reaching my goal then about helping them solve their problems?”
- "Do I genuinely care about them as a person? Do I know anything about them, their family, their dreams/goals, their challenges?"
Try this Exercise:
"Call or visit one of your customers without an agenda and see if it doesn't make a difference."- Dale Partridge, People Over Profit – Don’t talk to them at ALL about your business. Just show genuine interest and care about who they are and what’s happening in their life.
It’s impossible to be both selfLESS and selfISH at the same time.
As you practice selflessness, you will reframe your self perception, you will focus less on your business and income and will genuinely focus more on helping other people. And people will feel it too. They will be drawn to you because you got to know them for who they are, not for a sale. you care about their family, their dreams, their problems, and who they are as a person.
In Part 2 I cover:
- Fear of Rejection
- Getting over the fear of talking about money
- Uncover how you're getting sold to all the time, and how to use that knowledge to sell well
- Why selling gets such a bad rap
- How to be authentic and sell selflessly.