Five ways to eliminate sales call fear

By Jim Ruta | December 12 2017 07:00AM

Photo: Freepik

How do I build the sales call courage that top advisors have?

Sales icons appear to be fearless, don’t they? From all indications, they call the best prospects, get the best appointments and make the best sales. Sales calls are all the “asks” you have in your business model – for appointments, for the commitment and for the sale. Top advisors just do them.

But everyone, including icons, experiences some sales call fear - the anxiety felt when doing something with an uncertain outcome and for which the penalty of failure is unpleasant. That perfectly describes sales calls, doesn’t it – uncertain outcome and unpleasant failure?

The top advisor difference, and that you can do too, is that they build up their sales courage to resist fear and do what needs to be done, despite any fear. It’s what SEAL Team Six Leader Rob O’Neill says about fear – you can’t dwell on it. Here are 5 ways you can build up your sales call courage:  

  1. Only sell what you truly believe in - what inspires you. You can’t be lukewarm when building a business - you have to be all in, emotionally. Many years ago, Confucius said, (although likely not in English) that when you find something you love to do and at which you excel and for which you are well paid, you will never have to work a day in your life. That’s the kind of inspiration I’m talking about. Find that, and you’ll have all then call courage you want.
  2. Focus on a specialty. Be a subject matter expert for your audience. When you know you know, you will become known for what you know. That level of competence creates a higher level of confidence that comes out as call courage.
  3. Practice and be active. Call courage is inversely related to the length of time since your last sale. If you sold something yesterday, that’s 1/1 or 100%. Ten days ago, is 1/10 or just 10%. If it was 100 days ago, it’s not worth talking about. Sales “rust” builds up quickly and that breeds sales call fear. Action and practice prevents rust and reduces fear. Stay busy.  
  4. Hold on to this philosophy: Never be backward about taking your business forward. Take the 8, 2 letter word advice – If it is to be it is up to me. When it comes to your business, If not you, who? If not now, when?
  5. Make a responsible commitment to your activity, as Jack Kinder used to tell me. Self-determination of activity requirements can override fear and is stronger than motivation. Decide each day that you will make 3 sales calls or ask for 5 referrals. John Kanary says: Decide. Believe and Begin. All true.

Professional selling, especially in financial services, is only helping people do what they need and want to do but are unlikely to do on their own because these are character sales. You are offering to help your clients and prospects.

Appreciate this perspective and you will have more courage to ask and your failures will have less impact. That creates the sales call courage of top advisors – the resistance to fear by refusing to dwell on it. Follow this advice and you will be your best too.

How can I be a better public speaker, so I can do some successful prospecting seminars or social media video?

Did you ever notice how so many the great advisors you know are great in front of a crowd?

If you can speak well in front of a large audience, you make speaking one on one easier. You make your small meetings more effective because you naturally use some of your big room skills in the small room. Here are five quick reasons to learn to speak in public:

  1. Good public speaking improves your private speaking. You learn how to think on your feet and you handle objections better.
  2. Good public speakers are more likeable, competent and entertaining. That makes you more attractive to new prospects.
  3. Good public speakers attract media attention and marketing opportunities because they are a “good interview”.
  4. Good speech writing is like good presentation writing – if you can do one, you can do the other.
  5. Knowing you can speak gives you a level of confidence that makes you more confident in everything – especially prospecting.

You can you be a public speaker. Here are the top tips I coach advisors when speaking at the Canada Sales Congress:

  1. Be prepared. If you are giving a speech for the first time, write it out fully, just like you will say it. You won’t read it, but you could. That knowledge gives you confidence in front of the room. You need about 100 words per minute. A 30-minute talk is about 3,000 words. Ad libs are for amateurs.
  2. Summarize your key points for PowerPoint slides. You only need 1 content slide per 3 to 4 minutes of talk. A 30-minute talk would have about 10 slides plus a title and closing slide. Talk about your slides but don’t read. Put no sentences slides – just phrases, otherwise you will want to read. That will kill it. 
  3. Start with a bang. Make your best point right off the top. End by weaving that point back in. Resist the common inclination to thank the introducer or the organizers. Instead, start off with a controversial or dramatic statement that gets attention.
  4. No unrelated jokes. That’s minefield. The only humour comes from the content and only if you are good at it.
  5. Speak low and slow. Use the lowest timbre of voice that you have naturally. High- pitched is low impact. Speak slower than you think you should and you will be more authoritative.  
  6. Stick to the time allocated. This is the sign of a professional. Use a timer. I use an app called “PClock” ($1.29 USD) that counts down from the time allotted. When you know your timing, you are more likely to wind up when you are supposed to stop.
  7. Say your “Thank yous” at the end.
  8. Practice. You need to stand up and read your speech out loud at least 15 or 20 times to get it set.  Nothing replaces practice for confidence and proper delivery.

Public speaking proficiency propels prospecting and presentation performance, period. When you learn how to overcome your fears of public speaking, you discover new ways to overcome your fears of selling. That will make you a great advisor one day.