So, you get nervous during sales calls. Join the club.
Coping with – and getting over – the jitters is a completely natural part of starting your sales career. It’s no wonder we get nervous as we start out in this field: More than 90 percent of all sales calls result in failure, according to Harvard Business Review.
For a while, that stark reality is that there is going to be a wall to climb over with every cold call you make, at least for a while. The good news is that, over time, you’ll learn to deal with rejection as simply a part of the job.
Until that happens, here are seven tips to keep in mind as you wrestle with your jangle of nerves and try to launch your career in sales:
Tip 1: Embrace the Anxiety – Know this: You’re not weird because you’re nervous. You’d be weird if you weren’t. With that in mind, face up to your fear and ask yourself a question: What’s the worst that could come of this? Thinking through the possible outcomes of a sales call – and accepting the high probability of failure on each call – will likely diminish the anxiety and give you courage.
Tip 2: Cold Call Doesn’t Equal Blind Call – Doing whatever research you can before a sales call can help make you more confident and less nervous. Find out about the company’s business model and who its target customers are. Run through scenarios that demonstrate how your business can help theirs. It not only will make you better prepared to engage the prospect, but it will increase your chances for success. It’s even helpful to lay out a loose script for reference during a call. The idea is to have some knowledge and a general game plan. The more prepared you are, the fewer jitters you’ll have.
Tip 3: Focus on the Customer, Not Your Nerves – When you’re nervous, you’re thinking about yourself. You feel self-conscious and fearful for what might happen to you. Well, forget you. What’s important on a sales call is the customer and his or her needs. Ask the customer open-ended questions about those needs. Let them talk. Listen closely. Take notes. They’ll appreciate your attention, and they just might reward that with a sale.
Tip 4: Ease Up on Yourself – One reason you feel nervous during a sales call is that you think the pressure is on you to be ready for anything, to answer every possible question. Guess what? That’s unreasonable, and no one expects you to live up to an unreasonable standard. Yes, you need to be reasonably prepared to answer questions about your product or service. But, as we said above, it’s more important that you listen to the customer and that you’re willing and capable of finding out the answer to questions if you don’t know. Make sure you understand the customer’s questions. Take careful notes. Then, follow up with good, complete answers.
Tip 5: Stop Talking – When we’re nervous, we want to fill every bit of interminable silence with our own, nervous, useless nonsense or small talk. Do yourself a favor during your next sales call. Try shutting up sometimes and see what happens. Chances are, something wonderful will happen. The prospect might have a chance to tell you how your company might benefit his, or how a past vendor failed to adequately serve his needs. He just might give you an opening to make a sale.
Tip 6: See Yourself as ‘Helper,’ Not ‘Seller’ – One reason you feel nervous on a sales call is that you feel you are being a nuisance to the prospect. But what if you flip that paradigm and see yourself as an advocate for their business who is out to help them? You’re not a nuisance. You’re a hero. Focus the conversation on whether your two businesses have synergy – whether they’re a good fit to work together. Think about how you can help boost the customer’s bottom line.
Tip 7: Relax and Be Yourself – Remember the advice of Stuart Smalley, Al Franken’s self-help parody on Saturday Night Live: “You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And, doggone it, people like you.” In sales, you make a big mistake by pinning your self worth to the result of every sales call. Just be yourself and do your best to relate to sales prospects on a human-to-human level. It’s going to be OK. Chances are, they’ll say no. So what? Like they say, every rejection is a step closer to the next sales success. Good luck.