[338] Why you feel scared of selling (and what to do about it)

Podcast artwork: why you feel scared about selling (and what you can do about it) marcus cauchi

Are you scared of selling? Are you crippled by nerves when it comes to pitching for new business or asking for the sale?

In this episode, sales expert Marcus Cauchi gives practical advice on overcoming your fears using tried and tested techniques that will allow you to make sales naturally and authentically.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}.

Why are most of us scared of selling?

Marcus believes this is down to things we were told as a child. Statements such as, “Children should be seen and not heard”, “The customer is always right” and, “You can’t trust salespeople” influence how we do business – and not always in a positive way.

“We’re conditioned from childhood to associate sales with slimy, pushy, self-interested sales people and therefore every experience we’ve had with them is largely negative. As a result, we try not to be one of them,” he explains.

And instead of seeing ourselves as being equal, we tend to put our customers on a pedestal – and in doing so we give away our power.

How to get your prospects to do the selling

One of the biggest mistakes people make in sales is to focus on themselves – rather than their prospect, says Marcus.

“When you talk about yourself you fall into a trap where, when you tell people stuff, they don’t believe you. When you show them, they believe a little bit. When other people tell them, they’ll believe some of it, but they always believe everything they tell themselves.”

An effective salesperson listens 70% of the time and talks 30% of the time. And when they do talk, they ask questions, rather than give information. This allows the prospect to tell their story, to talk about the pain they are experiencing and explore the possible solutions – meaning they actually end up selling to you.

This is very different to how sales is traditionally taught which typically involves the following steps: qualifying loosely for money, presenting features and benefits, then closing the prospect.

Marcus sees this as manipulative. He’d much prefer people volunteer for the sale and ask, “When can we start?”

This is a far more efficient, effective and authentic way of selling because people hate to be sold to but they love to buy.

How to plan your sales conversations

When people feel under pressure to make a sales, they tend to talk a lot and try to educate, says Marcus. But this doesn’t work because you’re telling the prospect what/how to think, rather than helping them draw their own conclusions.

To avoid this he suggests being clear on what you’re trying to achieve in a conversation with a prospect: “All too often people go into a sales conversation with no plan,” he says.

It’s important to plan what your desired outcome is, and decide in advance on your best case scenario, what will be acceptable, what your worst acceptable outcome will be and what your walk away point is.

“Plan eight to ten great questions that will make your prospects prick up their ears. I believe we differentiate in the questions we ask, not the information that we give. That’s where our credibility comes from,” says Marcus.

How to diagnose not sell

Marcus advises consultants and coaches to diagnose rather than sell – using the analogy of doctors who always diagnose before they prescribe.

An effective salesperson asks a series of questions, with permission, then nurtures the prospect through a discovery process where they self diagnose that they have a problem, he says.

The key is to help prospects discover for themselves why they want what you have to offer. The idea is to help them reach their own conclusion so they volunteer the sale and say: “I want you to help me. How do I pay? When can we get started?”

When you do this, you’re not pushing, says Marcus. In fact you’re doing the opposite. You’re not trying to convince – your prospect has to convince themselves.

How to voice your concerns/qualifying prospects

Qualifying your prospects is an essential part of the sales process, allowing you to make an informed judgement about whether you and the potential client or customer will be a good fit.

This can include voicing any concerns either party has about working together. Janet explains how in the past she has had concerns about event sponsors not having the resources to follow up the leads they gather as part of the sponsorship arrangement. She has learnt that it’s worth being honest about these concerns before agreeing to bring them on board as a sponsor.

Marcus agrees: “If you’re going to have half-hour conversations with non-prospects, it’s going to be a disaster. If on the other hand, you’re going to have three to five-minute conversations with people so that you can qualify them in or out, that brings value and raises awareness and familiarity.”

He reminds us that too often, people focus on the wrong end of the problem and forget the question: “What’s the thing we’re trying to fix?”

Marcus’s Top Tips

  • Start with your intent Your intent is not to sell, but to understand and make sure that the other person knows that you’re there to help them, not yourself.
  • On sales calls and in meetings be clear, upfront about what you both want to happen, what you don’t want to happen and what the boundaries are.
  • Ask quality questions, not bland, mundane questions. Then listen. Too often people are only silent long enough to look for the pause when they can jump in.
  • Slow down – allow for double or triple the time that you’re currently putting in for sales calls to give you the time to ask the questions you have planned and your prospect the opportunity to answer fully.

Podcast Show Notes:

  • Marcus’s business story (8:30)
  • Why selling always has negative connotations (10:20)
  • How to change your selling behaviour so people will engage with you (and buy from you) (13:50)
  • How asking questions will help start a conversation (plus examples of how to do this) (15:52)
  • How to make your prospect feel comfortable (plus dealing with imposter syndrome) (21:50)
  • Why you shouldn’t try and please everyone (32:26)
  • How this technique can change your mindset both professionally and personally (38:25)
  • Why you shouldn’t be pushy when you’re selling (44:55)
  • Marcus’ key tips for improving your selling technique (47:15)


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