What Are You Afraid Of?


The fear of “No”

When you get right down to it, the reason most salespeople are so scared of getting out there in front of customers and potential customers is the fear of the word “No”. That dreadful tiny little word that has so often ruined sales careers.

Think about that for a minute. Think about how it feels when you are about to pick up the phone to ask someone for something. That little voice in your head warning you that they will probably say no. It is so scary that it can be paralyzing. It is so scary that it can keep you from doing your job. And more often than not that extreme fear of the word “no” can cause you in the end to lose your job!

I don’t think I am being over dramatic. I have seen it happen over and over again.

Some salespeople just admit it. They tell me they are afraid of rejection, that they hate rejection. Well who doesn’t? But it’s part of the job and if you leave in constant fear of being rejected then you will fail as a salesperson. It’s as simple as that. But in the case of the person who admits her fears she is halfway home to facing and overcoming that fear.

The salespeople who really bother me are the ones who are fooling themselves. The ones who come up with “good reasons” why they won’t face the fear of rejection but chose to live with it. Actually, they come up with ways to work around it by coming up with reasons why they don’t put themselves in situations of being rejected. They justify and rationalize their way out of putting themselves in the path of rejection. They come up with excuses disguised as “strategies and tactics” to avoid rejection thus caving in to their fears.

You know what I am talking about if you have heard these salespeople, and I use the term loosely tell you that:

“I don’t bother to try to see people, they don’t want to be seen, so I don’t bother to even make appointments. They even tell me they don’t want to see me.”  Of course, they will tell you that. Nobody enjoys being sold. It is your job to make it enjoyable. It is your job to make them want to see you. That is the role you are in as a salesperson.

“Look, I am not going to bother to try to cold call new customers, they never answer the phone. Especially the millennials, they don’t use the phone at all, and they never answer it so cold calling is dead.”  Well, isn’t that convenient for you? How disappointing it must be that cold calling is dead. But then I’m sure it’s not your fault. Okay then just email then so you can hide by being one of the hundreds of emails they get every day. That should make sure that you never get to them and never make that sale. But hey the good news is that you won’t have to be scared of hearing the word “No”.

Or my personal favorite excuse. The one that was invented during Covid. “How can I be expected to see if I can take my customer to lunch or the golf course? I do all my business by socializing with my customers and now that I can’t even see them because they are working from home, what am I supposed to do?” Really, is that all you’ve got? Your entire sales pitch is about what you buy your customer for lunch? So the company you represent, the products they produce and that they depend on you to see is not good enough. You need to take them to a vape lounge to sell them? Wow! Well maybe the vape lounge manager will give you a job when you’re fired from this one.

Look rejection is part of the job when you are in sales. It is what you signed up for. And the minute you learn to handle rejection the sooner you will be on your way to a successful sales career, or any career for that matter because there is rejection in everything we do all day every day. It just comes with the territory…literally. Your job is to face your fear of “No” and overcome it. 

Look for ways to handle that fear, and there are no real shortcuts to doing that. In the end it’s all about doing what you need to do to get the sale. Whatever that is. And if you have a true passion for winning, a true passion for being a great salesperson you will find a way. There is one simple way to overcome your fear of the word “No” and that’s to get used to doing the things you need to do, doing those things that make your fear rejection until you get used to doing them to the point of overcoming that fear. In other words, don’t skirt your fears, face them head on, go right through them and in the end you will become a great salesperson. It’s only common sense.