How to Stop Sales Anxiety from Crushing Your Success

BY Tim Londergan
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I am not a mental health care professional, but I am personally familiar with sales anxiety. Proving yourself in a new position, explaining an innovative product or being rejected time after time can be overwhelming. In fact, a University of Portsmouth study found nearly 94% of all sales outcomes could be perceived as a failure.

Significantly, Psychology Compass cites a survey showing 30% of adults strongly fear failure, and this number is higher for millennials. “Moreover, nearly half of respondents reported that fear of failure prevented them from achieving their goals.”

Fear of Failure Intensifies Sales Anxiety

Work-​related fear occurs in many forms. On-​the-​job concerns may relate to unresolved issues between co-​workers or managers. However, in sales, these same fears are exaggerated by being responsible for the lifeblood of the company.

Although fear of failure can be paralyzing, it’s part of the process for reaching big goals. Therefore, actively embracing the possibility of failure is key to coping with sales anxiety.

Signs of Sales Anxiety

Anxiety is defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and increased blood pressure. Anxiety is considered future-​oriented and longer lasting, while fear is of the present and a relatively short-​term response.

Emotions that pose a threat to a salesperson’s career would be negative feelings about the job, exhaustion and reduced productivity. Other symptoms may be:

But even more critical is that fear and sales anxiety can lead to avoidance behavior. “The problem with avoidance coping is that it doesn’t solve the issue,” according to a licensed clinical psychologist. Plus, when sellers avoid interacting with prospects, little is accomplished.

Tips for Coping with Fear of Failure

Be mindful that the cliché is true: “if you never fail, you aren’t trying hard enough.”

Hopefully, your company can acknowledge that failure is part of the sales process. Progressive sales organizations hold that there are ‘smart’ failures where you learn more than you lose.

Here are five strategies that will you help overcome sales anxiety and continue high-​level performance:

  • Reframe your role as salesperson — Consider that you are helping and serving your clients to solve their problems.
  • Rehearse your interactions – Prepare materials and be ready for objections to build your confidence.
  • Focus on what is within your control – External factors and unknowable issues will arise but worrying about them is futile.
  • Request support and coaching – Be open about your challenges and seek guidance from those who can help you improve.
  • Use positive self-​talk and affirmations – Focus on past successes and your professional strengths.

3 Steps to Practicing Positive Self-talk

Self-​talk shapes our mindset and perspective. Done right, positive self-​talk helps you see the whole truth, not just the negative aspects of any given situation. These suggestions and more from The Conflict Center may help you begin to reflect on your inner dialogue:

1.) Begin by noticing your thoughts and listen to what you are saying to yourself.

2.) Challenge your negative thoughts by asking:

                  Am I being overly critical of myself?

                  In this situation, what would I say to a friend; or what would they say to me?

                  Am I overreacting?

                  Is it only good or bad? Where is the middle ground?

                  Is this thought even true? Where is the proof of what I’m thinking?

                  Am I simply assuming what others are thinking?

                  What can I do to change the situation?

3.) Insist on reframing your thoughts by using more positive words and phrasing.

Soon you’ll be thinking happier thoughts and being proactive in eliminating sales anxiety.

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