Fear is the No. 1 killer of sales performance. There are a lot of salespeople that avoid making cold calls because of fear. They avoid asking clients for introductions. They avoid setting meaningful and powerful goals. They avoid asking their prospects difficult questions.
As a result, they grossly underperform in relationship to their perceived talent, and that underperformance is expensive.
Do the Math on Fear
Compare a high performer to an average performer over a 10-year period. An average performer might grow a book of business in the range of $300,000 annualized revenue. A high performer would grow a book of business in the range of $600,000 to $1 million in revenue. Over a 10-year period, that’s $3 million to $6 million in revenue in the door.
Multiply that times two, three or four average producers and you’ve got a high 10-figure problem, anywhere from $12 million to $24 million in very real dollars. If you operate at a 20 percent margin, that’s $2.5 million to $5 million in lost bottom line profits to your agency, and that’s just for a typical agency with only six to 10 producers.
There is no doubt that your “skeptic” meter is pegging out as you read this, maybe even causing you to want to call B.S. on me. But your skepticism could be costing you millions.
Prospecting: The First Step
Yesterday, I had an afternoon session with five newer producers: three were male, two were female and all were in the 22- to 26-year-old age range. I started our session by asking a few basic questions:
- “How long have you been doing this job?”
- “What kind of progress have you made?”
- “Suppose it’s a year from now and we are meeting. You’re telling me things are great. What would have had to happen for you to tell me that?”
They were open, vulnerable and spoke from their hearts.
After that, I asked: “What’s your biggest challenge to accomplishing that one-year vision?”
They answered with things like:
- “I have to prospect more.”
- “I have to get on the phone more.”
- “I need to work the relationships I have for introductions.”
I followed up with:
- “Why aren’t you prospecting more?”
- “Why aren’t you on the phone more?”
- “Why aren’t you working your relationships for introductions?”
That’s when they responded with the big sales killer: “I’m kind of afraid of making those calls.”
Frankly, it happens this way every time. Fundamentally, people know what they have to do to be successful. They have to prospect and set appointments. They have to convert those prospects into clients. They have to retain those clients, hopefully for a lifetime. But, many have a difficult time with the first step — prospecting.
The source of the problem is not finding names to call. It’s not having a telephone that works. The problem is fear, and fear comes in different packages.
Sometimes it’s disguised, but nevertheless it’s fear.
Solving the Fear Problem
How do you solve the fear problem in 18 minutes or less?
Let me admit, it will be difficult to explain this in the space I have left.
If you want to dig deeper, you can go to iTunes or Stitcher, find my podcast entitled: “Agency Growth Machine” and look for the episode, “Overcoming Fear in 18 Minutes.” I’ll go much deeper there.
Let me ask you this question: “Do you think your producer knows what they are afraid of?”
The answer is no.
Have they thought about it in specific terms?
Are they afraid someone is going to hurt them, beat them, cut them, stab them, shoot them, insult them, hang up on them or cuss them out? Is someone going to tell them to get lost, go to hell or eat scum? What is going to happen that they are afraid of, or that causes this fear?
They do not know, and that is where you can help, using the process below.
To assist you in this process, you need a dictionary. It will become your best friend. Have your producer look up the word “fear.”
“Fear: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Make them write the definition down exactly as it appears in the dictionary. Next, ask them to read it to you a couple of times out loud. Then, ask them what’s the most potent word in that definition?
Whatever they say, ask them what that means. In most cases, they won’t know precisely, so ask them to look that up, too.
Here is the problem we are trying to solve. We use language in a peculiar way.
When we say “fear,” we bundle up a lot into that one word. As we do, that word starts to carry almost a super power, something producers can’t overcome unless they deconstruct it.
By making them look it up, and looking up the definition of every single word in the definition, they deconstruct fear from a general feeling to a bunch of individual and factual things they can deal with.
Let me give you an example using two words in the definition of fear: “someone” and “threat.”
Someone: “An unknown or unspecified person.” Threat: “An intention to inflict pain, injury, damage or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.”
With that I ask: “Who is the unspecified person that is going to intentionally inflict pain on you?” They don’t know.
They always look at me bewildered and respond: “I don’t know, no one I guess.” Then I ask them to look up the word “belief,” because it’s in the definition.
Belief is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”
I’ll then say, “So you’ve accepted this as true, that someone, an unspecified person is trying to intentionally inflict pain on you, and that’s why you fear cold calling someone.”
It’s at about this point that the light starts shining and the big epiphany starts.
They say something like, “I get it. This is stupid. I’m not afraid someone is going to hurt me. I’m afraid because I don’t know what to say.”
With that, I would question, “Are you afraid because you don’t know what to say or do you just need to be trained?” With that realization, we go to work on the real problem — it’s not fear, it’s training. So, we moved from a fear issue to a training issue.
It’s at that point we start working on cold call scripting with bold statements to gain a prospect’s attention, ways to keep the prospect from hanging up the phone and how to close for the appointment.
I’ve found that in 18 minutes, a dictionary and a few well-formed questions on my part will help them explode their unwanted and unwarranted fear.
This probably sounds too simple. If that’s the case, leave your producers to their own devices. Let them continue to suffer in fear and you can sacrifice all the revenue and profit right along with them.
Or, you can train and develop your producers, transforming their potential into growth and profit for them and your firm.
Get in the movement — turn your agency into a growth machine.
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