Now, I don’t mean to imply that fear isn’t real. It is. What I want to focus on in this article are those times when we are afraid to do something and as a result don’t do anything; not what we might be afraid of: a recent diagnosis, the dark, etc.
Recently I read that some psychologists refer to most of our FEARs as Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real. That’s all. Fantasized Experiences. We get ourselves all worked up over imagining negative outcomes before even trying some new activity or experience. If we’ve never tried it, then how could we accurately predict what the results would be?
I love this quote by author, Mark Twain: “I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened.”
That is so true for each of us! Almost all of our fears are self-created and never materialize. Mere fantasy. Once we gut it up and finally take the first few steps toward a new experience, we usually realize we had nothing to be afraid of. Many of us even say things like, ‘I wish I would have done that sooner!’; or, ‘That wasn’t so bad after all!’
Back in the day of the cave man fear was a natural way for our body to alert us to the possibility of danger and give us the boost of energy we needed to run away from large scary man-eating animals. Today, luckily, we really don’t encounter many life-threatening circumstances. Fear now serves as our signal to remain alert and cautious. Fear triggers and heightens our awareness level, bringing us greater clarity. Once we embrace that the purpose of fear is to guide us, we can channel it and use it to our advantage and as a result, gain confidence.
Spend a few minutes thinking about all the times in your life that you were afraid to do something, and make a quick list of those things. Then, write down what you imagined would happen when you did them. This is usually where people start chuckling to themselves. Next, write down what actually happened. Isn’t it amazing how many times we allow fear and negative self speak to make us downright scared only to discover that our fear was unnecessary?
If you were to ask any successful person about the fears they’ve faced, it’s likely that
each would admit to feeling fears at many points along their path to success. The difference for them is that early on they learned to acknowledge when they felt fear, and they embraced fear as being both natural and a necessary part of their growth. They continued moving forward through the fear and learned that most of their fears were a waste of their time and energy. So, now when they feel fear they barely skip a beat.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy
The other major point of difference for those who are successful is that they realize that achieving growth and many of the ‘good things in life’ requires taking risks. They don’t allow themselves to become paralyzed by fear. If they did, they would never achieve their dreams. Sure, some of them took risks that didn’t work out as planned. I met with a business owner last week and he shared that he made a huge mistake once that cost him $500,000. That almost wiped him out. He was scared to death. But because he had also realized many other successes he knew he would succeed again. So, off he went on another business adventure and now he’s more successful than he ever imagined possible.
Stories of people realizing amazing successes after they’ve experienced nearly catastrophic failures are endless. We all need to take our cues from them and turn off the crazy tape we allow to play over and over again in our heads that tells us to be afraid, they won’t choose me, etc. It’s all garbage so throw it out. Believe in yourself. Make your move toward realizing your dream. Keep moving even when you feel doubt, experience setbacks and encounter rejection. Use those experiences as reminders to get going. Each obstacle you overcome teaches you something, makes you stronger and gets you closer to where you want to be.
So pick up the phone, make that call you’ve been putting off. Go to that networking event and meet new people. Go get that degree you’ve been wanting for years. Take your next step, whatever it is, no matter your age.
Don’t settle for being good when you can take a chance or two and become great. Feel the fear, embrace it as normal, know you’ll learn from it and take the first step through it. Don’t let fear hold you back. Later, when reflecting on your accomplishments you’ll be smiling, maybe even laughing out loud. Here’s to your continued growth and success.
At the top of your competitor's ideal prospect list, that's where!
If that makes you nervous that's a good thing. Your nerves just may drive you to make sure you're doing the right things to keep your customers engaged, happy and loyal.
Customers leave because 1) a competitor offered them a lower price and what you sell is a commodity so you experience this often; 2) they were unhappy about something and used price as an easy out; 3) they are bluffing and are really just shopping you for price; 4) they had no idea that you considered them to be a valuable part of your business.
If what you sell is viewed to be a commodity, then price will always play a role in the customer's decision-making process. Determine how low you can price your product/service and/or how much volume you need to realize profit. Don't waver from those numbers. Have a plan to personally interact with your top customers regularly and meaningfully so they attach value to you, personally. Be sure they know the full breadth of your offerings and the many ways you can help them. Hopefully, the relationship you forge will mean something to them and they'll be loyal to you.
Once a customer decides to leave your business it's too late to figure out what went wrong without going into panic mode and sounding desperate to keep them. If you truly had no idea they would consider leaving, then you haven't spent enough time with them figuring out what's important to them in your relationship. You erred somewhere. Take responsibility and learn everything you can from the experience. Then, immediately turn that learning into practice with your other important customers and begin a strategic campaign to a) engage with your top clients and 2) win back the customer that left, if it still makes viable business sense to pursue them.
Take a look at the purchasing habits of each of your top accounts to determine when their contracts come up for renewal. Three months prior to that expiration date, contact them for renewal proceedings. This is where you'll discover their plans and concerns and whether they're considering other offers. Go into those negotiations with a solid plan for what you're willing to do to retain them as a client. If a competitor offers a lower price you must know the difference between your offerings, what guarantees you're able to make that they can't, how you've adapted to your client's changing needs, etc. In other words discover whether the client still places a value on the things you think they do. Armed with this information, you'll have a better chance of negotiating through a pricing ploy.
Go to great lengths to let your customers know how valuable they are to you. If you use an internal system of categorizing them as 'key' accounts, for example, let them know they're key to you. Have a plan for what you'll do differently for your top accounts and how often. In every relationship it's key to let the other party know and witness how much you value them. It's a new quarter. Suggestion: have your top officers make a personal connection with your top customers in the next 90 days; and, have them continue that practice each quarter.
The wolf is always scheming to knock on your customer's door. Your plan and actions will determine whether he stays outside or gets invited inside.
Recently I watched the movie, ‘The Miracle’, about the US Olympic Hockey Team and their quest to defeat the Russians in the Olympics. In one of the scenes, in response to why he’s driving the athlete’s so hard during tryouts, the team’s manager, played by Kurt Russell, states: “I don’t need common men. Common men go nowhere. I have to have uncommon men!”
Isn’t it interesting that this coach, as he looked out at the players – all of whom were considered to be the best in their schools, cities and/or states – felt they were a group of common men. In his mind only those among them who would push themselves to their fullest limits would be considered uncommon – in other words, of the caliber to be selected to represent our country.
Each day each of us have the opportunity to prove to others that we are uncommon men and women. Why is it that some days we don’t quite hit that mark? I’ve come to believe the answer lies in one or two areas.
First, we need a mission and purpose that is so clearly defined and resonates so deeply with us that we can’t help but give all that we have in order to achieve it. We need both a personal and professional mission – the most incredible successes occur when the two collide and fall into alignment. Without a purpose for what we do, we remain unfulfilled and unsatisfied, always searching for something different, bigger, better.
The hockey coach had a mission and purpose – to defeat the Russians by putting together a team of uncommon men, the likes of which the world had not yet seen.
Everyone around him understood that goal and was committed to making it happen.
Business owners, take another look at your company’s mission statement. When you read it do you still feel pulled to accomplish that mission? Or, is it so vague and full of touchy-feely words that your staff may not be sure what the end goal really is? If so, take that weak and wonky thing and rip it to shreds! Rewrite it, over and over again, until it reflects the difference that you want to make.
Here are two examples of what I believe are great mission statements.
Microsoft: ‘A computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software.”
Amazon for its Kindle: ‘Every book ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.”
Both quantify the goal, succinctly, specifically, no questions. Employees of both companies understand, buy into and rally around that end goal with gusto, constantly striving to attain it, because the goal, when achieved, will be bold and noteworthy and they’ll be able to say they played a part in that success.
But, be careful. In order for any mission to be accomplished, the leadership MUST lead by sharing and living the vision. The talk must be walked at every moment.
Consider this mission statement: Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence.
Sounds okay. Unfortunately that was Enron’s. Enough said.
The second major reason some of us can’t push ourselves to become uncommon is because we aren’t fully engaged. When we aren’t engaged in our relationships, work, life, etc., it’s impossible to give 100%+ to anything. No matter how much we are poked, prodded, cajoled, incentivized, begged and pleaded with, we will not respond to a level that others consider to be uncommon, to be emulated.
So, how do we as business owners and managers get our employees re-engaged? First, we need to understand their talents and the strengths they bring to us. This requires assessing, asking, listening, caring about what we discover in that process. Then, we need to align those talents to the right tasks so that each day they can feel fulfilled in the work they do for us; and we need to be very specific, putting into writing what we expect of them in their roles, each day, week, month, year.
I have witnessed and so now believe that when we understand our core talents and align them with our purpose and that purpose is aligned with the work we do, we become undeniably passionate about living - undeniably uncommon and virtually unstoppable.
These are the three most important words in determining your level of sales success. Your attitude drives whether you're positive or negative, and each day you make the choice to be one or the other. If you feel more negative than positive about any circumstance, stop for a minute and consciously increase the positive messages you tell yourself.
Positive self-talk will translate into positive body language, words, conversations; all critical elements in being seen as likable and approachable by your prospects, clients and teammates. Plus, when you're positive, you're far more likely to see opportunities and make the connections between your prospect's need and a solution you can provide for them. Negativity stifles open-mindedness and creativity.
Your attitude also drives your beliefs about your personal worth and contribution, your company, your product and services, your ability to persevere in a tough market. Those beliefs fuel your self-confidence and enthusiasm, which translates into passion for what you do. Remember, people don't just buy what you sell they buy 'why' you sell it. When you are enthusiastic and believe in yourself and your product, others more quickly come to see the value of doing business with you.
Your attitude is influenced greatly by those you continue to hang out with. It's been said that 'we are the average of the five people with which we spend the most time'. If you want to be upbeat, convey energy, passion and enthusiasm, then you need to hang out with those kinds of people. Stop hanging out with negative people.
To succeed in sales, you have to engage, communicate, connect, build trust. Trust is built through consistent positive interaction. If you want to make more sales, then others must sense your pride, excitement and confidence about your product and service. They will only do so if you project a positive attitude.
You are in control of your sales success and growth. Believe in your possibilities.