How To Conquer Sales Anxiety by Eliminating the Fear of Failure

BY Jessica Helinski
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Want to tame your sales anxiety? Consider embracing failure. It may sound counterintuitive, but some professionals believe doing so reduces anxiety. 

Sales anxiety and its relationship to fear

Psychology Compass reports that anxiety is particularly high among those who are afraid to fail. Worries over being embarrassed, not meeting goals, losing a customer, and disappointing others can all fuel sales anxiety. This in turn hurts productivity, as sellers may avoid taking action or leaving their comfort zone. As Psychology Compass explains, "When someone is afraid to fail, their sales anxiety increases and they are less likely to take risks, try new things, and broaden their skill set. This discourages innovation and hampers employee development." 

They may fail to succeed because, ironically, of their fear of failing. If you can relate to these feelings, don't feel doomed, as there are ways to overcome your anxiety. And one method includes learning to face, and accept, failing.

Be honest about failure in sales

Sales is not an easy industry. Sellers must be honest with themselves and understand that failure, at some point, will happen. Even the best reps don’t achieve every goal. And while no one likes failing, shifting your mindset to accept the reality of failure at times makes it easier to tolerate. And while it’s never easy, part of development and learning involves being uncomfortable at times. “Instead of seeing a challenge as a way to potentially fail, see it as a learning opportunity,” Psychology Compass advises. “Seeing failure as a part of the process reinforces the idea that even if things go wrong, the world doesn’t end and next time you will most likely do better.”

Once you approach failure as an inevitable part of growth, you may find your sales anxiety lessens. Because you’ve taken away the notion total perfection is possible, you remove that unnecessary pressure driving your anxiety. Colleen Stanley, president of SalesLeadership agrees. “When you can accept that occasional failure is a natural part of the growth process, and that learning from these setbacks will make you a more resilient sales professional, you will be on the path to reducing your sales anxiety,” she explains. “Focus on progress, not perfection.”

Use failure to build confidence

Failure, in part, can come from a lack of confidence. By giving yourself the chance to fail, you’re actually building up confidence in your ability to succeed. It can be difficult at first to silence those worries, but there are different strategies to put into practice.

  • Engage in positive self-​talk. "How you speak to yourself has an impact on your confidence, how you face challenges, your approach to selling–everything. Take control of your inner thoughts to replace fear and doubt with confidence and determination. We start to change our self-​talk and start to work on the belief systems… then our filters open up and change and we see things differently," Blue Lotus Consulting’s Tiffany Toombs explained in a Manage Smarter podcast episode.
  • Keep a running list of times you’ve had a win or achieved a goal. Include moments when you’ve struggled but turned it into a different opportunity or a teachable moment. Revisiting this list will ease that sales anxiety you feel when fear of failure creeps in. Take time to nurture your confidence rather than feeding your worries. Simply reminding yourself of your achievements can shift your mindset.

By taking steps to change your relationship with the idea of failure, you take away its power and ability to trigger sales anxiety. Mindful practices can help you take steps to shift your perspective of failing and push past your worries. For even more advice on managing your mindset, check out SalesFuel’s professional tips.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio