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Fear of the Big Bad Customer

What do we feel for the fearful?   We pity them, we feel sorry for them, right?     These are not the feelings we want our customers to feel for us. We respect and revere the fearless.   Don’t we want our customers to respect us?

If we are fearful, our customers will feel it.

When my son was four, I took him to swimming lessons. The pool was just a big bathtub – a little deeper maybe – but not scary – dad was there.   He’s learning to swim and having a great time with it.   After six lessons we thought it would be a great idea for my wife to come along to see how our big boy was learning.   My wife is deathly afraid of (deep) water.   When she got in the pool with us, my son was fine until she touched his arm.   I felt her fear course from her through his body and to mine like an electric shock.

What does this have to do with sales?

Fear kills sales.   Our customers will feel our fear just as my son felt his mother’s fear.   Working with salespeople I find that fear of (upsetting, bothering, negotiating with – real give and take negotiation) the customer is the number one emotional problem for struggling sellers.        When we feel fear, our customers feel sorry for us and may pity us.   When we are fearful customers will not respect and revere us, much less treat us like a partner.   When customers feel our fear two things will happen.   They will take advantage or they will want to get away.

I work with charming, likeable, hardworking salespeople who understand sales techniques and strategies, but all this charisma and sales knowledge is wasted because of the fear these salespeople have of their Big, Bad Customers!

How many of us married the yes-man or yes-woman?   When I ask for a show of hands on this question in classes across the country no one ever raises their hand.   Why?   Wouldn’t it be easier to spend our lives with someone who always gives us our way?   Of course not.   It would be deathly boring.   We want someone who has their own ideas and maybe someone to keep us in check from time to time, right?   Sales, like marriage, is a relationship.   Our customers don’t want to buy from a yes-man or yes-woman.   (They may throw’em a bone now and then to keep them giving numbers, but these fearful salespeople will always under-achieve and get the leftovers.)   Customers will buy from sellers who know who they are, what they have to offer and are willing to stand up for it.

Here are some solutions to overcome our fear of our B.B.C’s:

1.   Prepare. Don’t just call – prepare everything!

2.   Prospect.   Talk to new customers and practice a confident approach.   Fake it till we make it.   Prospecting will help us build our account base.   A big reason sellers are afraid of losing accounts is because they don’t have enough of them.   How can we win a negotiation when the other negotiator knows we’ve got no place else to go?

3.   Prepare and Offer product. Back to the marriage metaphor, nobody wants to be with someone who always says, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Offer product and solutions on every call. No more “What do ya need today?” calls.

4.   Call a friendly. Start our day with the accounts we do have a good relationship with.   The best time to call a B.B.C. is right after we have sold something.

5.  Psyche up.   Self talk works.   We must convince ourselves before we put ourselves in front of a customer.   (Many sellers are embarrassed by self affirmations – “And Gosh Darn It – People Like Me!”   I agree that it seems corny – but it works.

6.   Smile. Smiling before and during the sales call will make us feel more confident.   Humans are drawn to and are more comfortable around people that smile.

Technique is important.   Sales skills are necessary to maximize our efforts.   But as the saying goes, we must get our hearts right before sales techniques will be effective.

Salespeople unite!   Let’s buck up, screw up our courage and approach our customers with confidence.

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