Salespeople can be some of the most fearless people in the world. It takes guts to pick up the phone again after you’ve been told “no” over and over. It takes guts to step in front of committees of decision-makers and tell them why they need to change and place their trust in your and your company to help them.
It takes guts to keep coming to work day after day with an uncertain outcome and often an uncertain paycheck.
But that doesn’t mean that fear isn’t sabotaging your sales efforts.
Fear is a sneaky phenomenon. It creeps in the darkness and can drive behaviors without us even realizing we’re afraid.
And that can spell danger for sales departments, especially in a delicate economic environment like the current one.
Here’s what you need to know about the science of fear, and how it impacts organizations at every level.
Fear is an ancient evolutionary response programmed into our bodies as a survival mechanism. When you perceive a threat, real or imagined, your fear system kicks in and the following things happen:
All of this happens quickly and without your conscious input. Depending on the severity of the fear and your self-awareness, you may become strongly conscious of the effects of fear, or it may remain entirely unconscious to you.
Fear is a sneaky phenomenon that can drive behaviors without us even realizing we’re afraid.
Even if it is unconscious, however, it will impact you.
Scientists are still unclear on all of the mechanisms of fear in the body, but they have identified four primary ways that people respond to fear:
The fight-or-flight response is the one most people are familiar with, while “freeze” and “fawn” have been more recently added to the list.
In fight response, your body prepares for a battle.
In flight response, your body prepares to run away, as fast as you can.
In a freeze response, your body prepares to “play dead”–I.e., freeze in place and hope the threat ignores you.
In the fawn response, your body prepares to appease the threat and so that it will leave you alone.
When fear is extreme, these responses may be automatic and unstoppable. In less severe situations, you may experience the response as a strong desire to do one of the four things. In mild situations, it may manifest simply as a tendency to choose one of those four reactions.
It may have been a long time since your heart rate increased just because you had to pick up the phone and call a prospect. But that doesn’t mean that fear isn’t sabotaging sales in your organization.
Here’s how the four responses can show up at the different levels of your organization.
Do you notice any of these responses showing up in your sales organization? How and where?
One way to overcome fear responses is to become intentional about how you structure the sales organization and your sales process to reinforce correct behaviors and guide salespeople so that they know what the right thing is, as well as how to do it.
A platform like Membrain can provide this structure, and help you eliminate the impacts of fear on your sales organization while improving your overall performance. Ask us how.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals.
Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn