Anxiety in Sales Situations can be Crippling.
There’s nowhere to hide in sales. Your business depends on successful selling. No wonder it can cause anxiety.
Why wouldn’t you feel anxious when your income and potentially your business depend on your customer buying into everything you say and placing an order.
To stop anxiety, you first need to understand and start recognising the symptoms. I’m going to do this in 2 parts as it’s a big subject and it’s important. Today we’ll talk about the symptoms and how to deal with it when the symptoms occur. In part 2 we’ll deal with the source and what you can do more long term to stop anxiety at the source. Reducing the symptoms is a good start and will help you feel like you’re making progress which helps the source.
The difference between stress and anxiety.
While stress and anxiety share some symptoms, stress is a shorter-term response and can be dealt with by removing the triggers. If you suffer from anxiety, then it’s likely that you suffer consistent symptoms every time the stressor occurs, even if in general you feel quite happy and relaxed. It’s sometimes hard to identify why you feel discomfort or recognise that it is anxiety.
There are two aspects to anxiety – symptoms and sources. Symptoms are the physical and mental reactions to anxiety. This varies in everybody. It’s a normal, everyday part of life. Most of us have felt it at some point. It starts in childhood with exam stress or having to confess to doing something that will result in punishment.
Sources are the reasons for the symptoms but we’ll talk about those in part 2. To stop anxiety, you will need to recognise where it comes from.
Do you feel nervous before an appointment? There’s a lot of pressure especially if you’re not doing as well as you’d like, and if it’s linked to financial worries, it is completely understandable.
If you do suffer from anxiety keep reading because I’m going to give you some really solid tips to deal with it. It’s not just that anxiety can affect your chance of a sale, more importantly, it can have some long-term serious health implications.
I guess as it’s kind of related to mental health and potentially seen as a weakness, anxiety is not talked about openly. It is a very common problem in sales and particularly if you earn only if you sell. The stakes are higher because if you don’t sell, you don’t earn and if you don’t earn you don’t pay your bills. For owner/salespeople there is the additional responsibility of the business.
You are not alone.
I’ll kick off by admitting that I do suffer from anxiety, and I tell you that because I want you to know that not only do I understand it, but I am also evidence that no matter how confident or outgoing you are, you can still suffer from anxiety. If you know me, you will know that I am one of the most confident people you’ll ever meet. I’m fairly fearless and I have every faith in my ability to sell anything that’s sellable, but prevention of anxiety is one of the reasons that I make sure that I do everything right. I have to know that all of my processes are in place so that I can focus on them and not the outcome.
I can do this, talk to you on audio or video, with no problem. I can even stand on stage and talk to hundreds of people with no anxiety at all but when there’s a situation where I want to win, I attach too much importance to the outcome and that’s what causes my anxiety. And I’m not just talking sales, I’m talking anything that involves winning. Golf, Scrabble, Kerplunk. I’m of the ‘ A good loser is a loser’ variety.
I know the source of my anxiety and I like being competitive. It’s part of what gives me my drive to achieve so I’ll keep working to manage the symptoms, but I accept that that’s the price I pay.
Apart from being uncomfortable for you and potentially affecting your health and relationships, anxiety can prevent you from performing at your best in your appointments.
The first three minutes of the appointment is crucial because the customer makes a conscious decision about whether you are someone that they would buy from in that time. If you make a bad impression because you are on edge, sweating or talking too fast, you’ll have to work hard to pull it back in your favour. They don’t know that you suffer from anxiety – they just know you’re not relaxed so they’re not. It creates unconscious questions in their mind about trust. If you feel you’ve made a bad first impression, you’re worrying about that instead of what’s happening after that.
It’s about finding a balance between being determined to sell but not attaching to the outcome. We can’t control the result – we can only complete all the steps that give us the best chance of the result that we want – in our case – an order.
While my symptoms of anxiety don’t affect my work and can’t be seen by the customer, it’s very uncomfortable and if I don’t get on top of it straight away, can last for three days during which I can’t eat or sleep.
The effect of anxiety in your appointment.
If you feel nervous, the customer will feel nervous and it stops you from making a connection. While you may get the words out in a coherent way, if the customer has any discomfort there is little chance of a sale.
Feeling nervous is a distraction as you will be thinking about yourself instead of relaxing and being your true self. It stops you from being fully present and engaged. You will miss the subtle clues that are vital to sales timing.
If you’re uncomfortable, you will speak faster, forget things, be agitated and not as patient and will be trying to get out of there as fast as you can.
Anxiety can cause ‘doom and gloom’ thinking so you think of all of the things that can go wrong; your anxiety being noticed, not getting the sale, being told off by the manager, not having enough money, losing the job. All of this creates a feeling of wanting to get away from the discomfort as soon as possible.
The effect of anxiety on your health.
Anxiety changes heart rate and the circulation of blood throughout the body. Some studies suggest that anxiety and stress increase the risk of heart disease in otherwise healthy people.
People suffering from anxiety are more likely to suffers colds and flu as the constant presence of cortisol can impair the immune system.
Cortisol also blocks processes that the body considers non-essential, in particular the digestive processes. This causes that feeling of stomach-churning and can cause nausea, diarrhoea and the need to urinate. Although the stomach-churning symptom is the easiest to hide from the customer, asking to use the loo as soon as you’re in the door is a sure way to start off on the wrong foot. Especially now during social distance rules.
There are physiological reasons for stress or anxiety related to threats. The body is inefficient in this way because it gives us the same response whether we’re facing a lorry barrelling towards us at high speed or a conversation with the taxman.
What you can do to alleviate the symptoms.
This isn’t going to be a detailed medical assessment. We’ll just keep it simple and relative to its effect in a sales situation.
First, become aware of it, acknowledge it and that it’s coming from something that’s important to you. Give yourself permission to think it. We are under the illusion that we are the only ones that feel like this and see it as a weakness or flaw, so understanding that most people feel nervous and giving yourself permission is empowering.
Learn to see appointments as an exciting opportunity. Whatever it presents you with, it’s part of the job so don’t drive to the job, winding yourself up about worrying whether it’s a rubbish appointment or not. Listen to something that you can focus on.
Stop thinking in terms of what you earn per visit – nothing for 3 visits, £500 for this one £80 for that one. Work out what you earn per 3 months, 6 months or a year and find the average. It’s a lot more comfortable when you can be thinking that you earn a certain amount every time you walk out the door for your company. If you’re sitting 10 appointments per week – 500 a year. £100 per visit. That’s a good target if you’re not there yet. If you’re the business owner, work it out related to profit rather than commission.
Have a very clear and practised plan for your opening minutes that includes questions so that you can get past the first few minutes without worrying or thinking about what to say. This is obviously important whether you have anxiety or not.
When you go into the customer you have further anxiety that they can see that you are sweating or blushing. Get them focused on something else to give yourself a breather. If it’s an appropriate time, maybe they can watch a presentation.
After you’ve established your introduction, go back to the car for samples or something. It gives you a minute to take a deep breath and reset your intentions.
When blood vessels narrow, body temperature is affected and can cause hot flushes. In response, the body tries to cool down and causes sweating. If you arrive at the last minute and rush into a warm house, then sit down with a hot cup of tea, it is almost impossible to get the body temperature back down.
Try and keep some kind of cooler in the car with ice packs or a frozen bottle of water and hold onto it in the palm of your hands for a few minutes before you go into the house.
Turn the heating down or the air conditioning up for at least the last part of the journey.
Say no to the cup of tea and ask for a glass of water instead. You can hold it for coolness and then drink it later.
I would also add stay hydrated through the day’ but I know how difficult that is on the road. It’s important to do what you can though.
This is because adrenalin is coursing through your body and it has nowhere to go. You need big movements, but anxiety makes all your movements tighter and smaller.
General solutions to alleviate discomfort before an appointment.
Arrive 5 minutes early so you can quickly stretch your legs. Take big strides and wave your arms about a bit if you can. Take long deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Anxiety can also cause shallow breathing which makes you breathe through your mouth. This then causes dry mouth which is really uncomfortable in a lengthy appointment. If you don’t believe me, take a deep breath through your mouth now and you instantly feel it drying. Practice closed mouth nose breathing, and your mouth will stay comfortable throughout the call.
Breath is shorter so speech is faster. Take your time walking up the path otherwise before you know it, you’ve rushed up the path, banged too hard on the door, spoken too fast and unsettled the customer straight away. Concentrate on slowing your movements and gestures and your speech will slow too. Customers will be overwhelmed by you if you seem on edge and speak fast.
I hope that helps in the short term. In part 2 we’ll talk about the sources of anxiety and what you can do to try and prevent the symptoms.
I’d love to hear what you think about it. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Linked in https://linkedin.com/in/homeimprovementsalesacademy.com
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Learn to see appointments as an exciting opportunity. Whatever it presents you with, it’s part of the job so don’t drive to the job, winding yourself up about worrying whether it’s a rubbish appointment or not.