Sales managers have a number of roles to fulfill. One is sales coaching, which kind of like playing sales doctor, trying to properly diagnose the root cause for poor sales performance. There are a number of places to examine during coaching sessions, but one often-overlooked area is understanding how the emotion of fear affects the salesperson’s actions or inactions.
Fear of failure inhibits the application of logical selling behaviors that ensure success. You’ve told your sales team the value of calling on the C-suite. However, they can be fearful of calling on big titles, big offices and being presented with big questions.
Fear of looking stupid. You’ve taught your team proven selling tactic works; however, salespeople fear looking stupid because they haven’t mastered the new skills.
Fear of not having what it takes. The salesperson did call on the C-Suite and it was a disaster. I tried this before and it didn’t work.
Fear is not a logical emotion and it evolves from two areas of thinking:
1. Perception — making up stories about a selling situation that’s never happened. But the salesperson tells himself the story for so long that the fictional story becomes the truth.
2. Fear from a past experience. The salesperson rehearses that failed sales call in her head over and over, which creates resistance to taking action.
Sales managers, time to apply the EQ skill of self-awareness. Recognize when to teach and coach consultative selling skills, and when to change course and coach salespeople through the emotion of fear.
In many coaching scenarios, it time to quit telling salespeople how to sell and address the root cause for poor selling behaviors: Fear. Change the questions you ask and you will change the answers you hear which will help you and the salesperson work on the right end of the selling challenge.
- What’s your biggest worry about calling at this level of the organization?
- What your biggest fear in executing this sales strategy?
- Are your concerns based on perception or a past experience?
- What lessons did you learn from the last deal you lost? How will you apply the lessons learned to set yourself up for success on the next call?
- Are you smarter because of the failure? What will you change up?
- What’s the worse thing that can happen if you don’t know the answer to a question?
Sales managers are sales doctors. Get good at diagnosing the right end of the problem. Change the questions you ask and work on the right end of the sales performance challenge.
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. Stanley is the author of ‘Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success’ and ‘Growing Great Sales Teams.’ She is the creator of Ei Selling®, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative sales skills.