Recently, I decided to do a little experiment.
This experiment was by no means scientific, but I figured it could still provide some insights into the minds of entrepreneurs when it comes to selling.
I decided to visit various social media groups and ask a simple question:
“What are the biggest fears you have when you think about having to persuade people to buy your product, service, or idea?”
I was curious about the responses I would get. Naturally, I had my own preconceived notions of what people’s main fears would be, but I wanted to see what other entrepreneurs would say on the subject.
I got a bunch of interesting responses.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who considers selling to be an important factor in an entrepreneur’s life! These responses showed that this is an issue that is one the mind of many entrepreneurs.
And it should be.
The ability to sell effectively is a necessary skill for all entrepreneurs to have. It’s not just important for earning new clients. The ability to move others is a critical component of almost every aspect of an entrepreneur’s life.
For many entrepreneurs, sales can be a scary thing. The thought of having to convince someone to do something can be terrifying. There are several reasons for this.
Maybe it's because you don’t have a strong background in sales. Perhaps you feel you’re too introverted or shy. Maybe you don’t want to come off as pushy, overly salesy, and/or obnoxious.
It’s totally understandable, and you’re in good company. It happens to all of us at one point or another.
However, this can pose a huge problem. Sales ability is a non-negotiable factor when it comes to building a successful business. Many entrepreneurs fail simply because they never learn how to influence others the right way.
The way I see it, there’s two main reasons why entrepreneurs find it hard to persuade. Either they haven’t learned the necessary skills, or they have fears that hamper their sales efforts.
Out of these two reasons, fear is most damaging. Why? Because a person can learn the sales skills they need as long as they're willing to put in the work. It's not as big an obstacle as fear.
Fear is something different altogether. Fear paralyzes you. It keeps you from doing what you truly desire to do. It’s like an invisible straitjacket that prevents you from taking action.
Here's the good news: it doesn't have to be this way. Karl A. Menninger said this:
“Our fears are educated into us, and if we wish, can be educated out.”
Fear can be a powerful obstacle, but it’s not insurmountable. You can unlearn your fears of selling. It just takes some effort.
Here are the three most common fears that I found:
- Being too pushy.
- Not being able to get their prospects to see the value of their product/service.
- Getting rejected because of price.
- Having difficulty starting the conversation.
In this post, I’ll discuss these three fears and explore some actionable ways people can move past them.
Fear #1: Feeling Pushy
This is one of the most common fears for salespeople; getting rejected because they were too aggressive. We all know how much we hate it when we have to deal with pushy salespeople, so we try not to be that type of person.
It’s a valid fear. Being too pushy can annihilate your chances of winning the sale. It’s a mistake many entrepreneurs make without even knowing it.
If you’re worried about being too pushy, this might be a phrase that you’re afraid to hear:
“Um, yeah I’d love to talk about this, it sounds awesome…but I just remembered have some type of food dish burning in the oven and I need to leave. Like, right now.”
Yeah, that sucks, right?
The easiest way to keep yourself from coming on too strong is to make sure you’re not rushing to sell. It’s always tempting to make your sales pitch too early, but it’s better to take the time to build a relationship with your prospect first.
Take some of the pressure off of yourself.
Don’t pitch right away and allow yourself to ease into the sale. Build some rapport. Find out more about your prospect. Let them get to know you. If you show genuine interest in who your prospect is beyond their wallet, they’ll be more likely to open up to you when you are ready to pitch.
Fear #2: Communicating Their Product’s Value
Many entrepreneurs are afraid of getting rejected because their prospect doesn’t see the value in their product. As an entrepreneur, you know your product or service inside and out. You also know your industry. Which means you know exactly why your client needs it.
The problem? You’re not 100% confident that you can communicate the value in a way that the prospect can understand.
This is the phrase you’re most afraid of hearing:
“Gee golly! That certainly sounds great, but I don’t think I need it.”
Let’s face it. It’s not easy to persuasively communicate your product to each and every prospect. You have to tailor your approach to each person.
The way to deal with this is to find out a little more about your prospect. What are the problems they are having? Where do they want to be? What’s keeping them from getting there?
When you begin discussing your product or service, start with the end in mind. What is the ultimate outcome the prospect is looking for? This is what you want to address.
Remember, your prospect doesn’t give a rip about your product or service. They don’t want to know how cool it is. They want to know how it will get them from point A to point B. They need to hear about how this makes their lives easier.
Start with the outcome first, then talk about how your product or service will get them to the outcome. It’s not your product or service that your prospect needs to understand. They need to understand the impact it will have on their lives.
Fear #3: Getting Rejected On Price
Price is one of the biggest objections salespeople get. It’s very easy to get rejected because your prospect believes it’s too expensive. This is especially true of entrepreneurs who sell high-end products or services.
If you are concerned that your price is too high, it will make it harder to sell your product with confidence. Sure, you know how great your product is, but will the prospect want to pay for it?
You might be afraid of hearing a prospect say this:
“Wow, it’s a great product, but I don’t know if I can afford that. Is there any way you can lower the price?”
There are a couple ways to deal with this.
The first thing you should do is qualify each prospect as much as possible before you start the sales process. You want to make sure you’re selling to someone who can actually afford what you’re selling.
This isn’t always easy because you’re not always able to find out if your product is in their budget. However, there are probably other ways to figure this out depending on the nature of your business. If possible, ask questions that can enable you to figure out if they are able to pay for your product.
If you’re not able to find out how much your prospect is able to spend by asking, it may be a good idea to discuss price first. I don’t always like to do this, but at times it can help you discern whether or not you should continue with the conversation.
You don’t have to tell them the exact pricing, but you can give them a range. The prospect’s reaction will give you an idea as to whether or not you should proceed.
Another point to keep in mind is the fact that prospects typically use pricing to mask the real objection. If someone says they can’t afford what you’re selling, it might be a good idea to probe a little more. Find out if that’s really the issue. If there is a deeper objection, you should find out what it is so you can address it.
Fear #4: Starting The Conversation
I had quite a few responses saying that they had difficulty getting the initial conversation started. They didn’t know how to begin.
Some said that once they got over the initial hump, it became easier. This is a really important factor in the sales process because the way you begin a conversation has great influence over the way the rest of the interaction goes.
There’s a few ways to remedy this problem: Have a short introduction that you use for your prospects. Create an elevator pitch. You don’t have to word your introduction the same way for each prospect, but you should know the message you wish to convey beforehand. This will make it much easier to begin the interaction.
It's About Rejection...
The fears I’ve discussed here are only a few of the fears entrepreneurs experience when it’s time to sell their products or services. There are probably many more. However, there is an underlying theme to each of these fears.
It’s the fear of rejection.
We don’t want to get rejected. It makes sense, right? Who actually WANTS someone to say “no” to them?
Unfortunately, rejection is inevitable. It’s an eventuality that we will all have to deal with over and over again. Mastering sales techniques will help us get rejected less, but there’s no foolproof sales formula that makes every single prospect say “yes.”
When it comes to dealing with the various fears we face, the most important thing we can do as entrepreneurs is learning how to handle rejection. We can do this by viewing rejection differently. Rejection doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It’s only negative when we fail to learn from it.
When we are facing rejection, we need to do three things:
- Listen: Understand why you were rejected. Listen to what your prospect is saying. There may be an opportunity to turn the rejection into a “yes” later on!
- Learn: Figure out what you could have done differently. Should you have asked more questions? Did you rush into the pitch? Should you have even attempted to sell to this person in the first place? Remember as much data about the interaction as possible and analyze it objectively.
- Leverage: Take what you have learned and figure out how you can fix any mistakes that may have been made. Resolve to implement your solution the next time around.
We all have fears. Starting and building a business can be pretty scary. What I learned from my little “experiment” is that sales is a subject that makes many entrepreneurs nervous.
And rightly so.
But, the reality is that you can’t build a thriving enterprise if you can’t get people to do what you want. Focus on overcoming your sales fears. When you do this, you will remove a huge barrier to your success.
Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing and sales consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs earn more clients and multiply their sales by becoming better salespeople. He also the host of the Entrepreneurial Sales Mastery Podcast which provides actionable sales tips to entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and anyone else who wants to learn how to sell the right way.