We’re all familiar with the physical distractions that can kill productivity: the phone that never stops ringing, the co-worker yammering away at you, and the endless e-mail that needs to be handled. But more unproductive and harder to pin down are the psychological distractions that operate in the back of your mind and have a far greater negative effect.
Have you ever partied hard the night before a big presentation and jeopardized its success? Have you ever seen a great opportunity to close a sale but hung back and watched it disappear? Have you ever wondered why you sometimes do the exact opposite of what you know you should but just can’t stop yourself?
These are psychological distractions, and at the root is good old-fashioned basic fear. Here are four of the most common psychological distractions wreaking havoc in the sales world plus a few tips about how to deal with them.
1. What If I Fail?
Fear of failure is so prevalent in society it is recognized as a phobia in its own right. It is paralyzing and destructive, causing you to subconsciously undermine your own efforts so you no longer have to deal with the fear. It causes the very failure that you are worrying about. It might, for example, manifest itself as a reluctance to try something until that “perfect” moment when success is guaranteed. Unfortunately the perfect moment never comes, leaving you sitting frustrated on the sidelines.
The only way to overcome a fear of failure is to face it head on. Identify what aspect of the sales process you fear the most and then break it down into tiny, manageable pieces. Work on one piece at a time, and when you feel at ease with it, move onto the next piece. You want to be able to control your fear so it doesn’t hold you back.
2. What If I Succeed?
Bizarrely, fear of success often walks hand-in-hand with fear of failure. You may fear that you won’t be able to sustain your progress or believe you aren’t deserving of reward or recognition. Success changes relationships, responsibilities, and jobs, and you may not feel ready for it. Fear of success manifests itself in many ways:
- Staying up until the small hours before a big sales presentation, making you tired and cranky
- Hiding a talent and deliberately finding ways to avoid situations where it might be revealed
- Downplaying your part in the successful accomplishment of a sales deal
Overcoming fear of success requires looking critically at the underlying reasons for your behaviours; what events in the past led you to this point? Take the time to honestly appraise and record your achievements, successes, and accomplishments without downplaying or hiding any aspects. Finally, allow yourself to accept praise and recognition from others, again without diminishing your part in what has been accomplished.
3. I Don’t Have Credibility
Maybe you’re new to the company or have never worked in the industry before. Or perhaps the prospects you’re selling too have a long line of letters after their names and you don’t. Whatever the reason, every time you get in front of prospects, you are absolutely convinced they can see through you and won’t want to deal with you.
How a prospect perceives your credibility is not just based on your qualifications or how long you’ve been selling in your industry. It’s as much about a prospect’s life, experience, ideology, and attitude toward life. Regardless of the subjective baggage prospects bring to the table, there are three key values they expect a credible sales person to demonstrate: honesty, competency, and leadership. If your body language, speech, or mannerisms violate any of these, you will instantly appear less credible and scupper your chances of a deal.
4. The Deal Is Too Big for Me
You’re faced with a sale worth many tens of thousands of dollars. Your boss is ecstatic and your colleagues green with envy. You on the other hand are sweating, lack focus, and feel like hyperventilating whenever you think about it. The deal is bigger than anything you’ve ever done before and threatens to consume you in a fiery ball of self-doubt and fear. How will you be able to cope with its magnitude?
All deals follow a set pattern and this one will, too. The only way you will develop the confidence you need to close this huge deal is to know everything about it, inside out and back to front. Go back to basics and run the due diligence for every single stage of the sale. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Where does it need more support, and who can provide it? What are the risks and opportunities? Run through possible problems and scenarios that the prospect could come back with. Once you’ve completed this task you’ll be a long way closer to having the self-confidence to nail the deal.
Many physical distractions in the workplace can be solved in obvious practical ways, yet psychological distractions are far trickier to grasp. Unless you grasp the nettle and conquer the root causes of them, they will hold you back professionally and personally, far more than getting caught up talking about last night’s TV shows with the water cooler gang.