Prospecting Avoidance

Professional salespeople know when they wake in the morning they have to do the one thing that is sure to guarantee an income:

Prospect for new business.

In a way, salespeople begin everyday looking for a new “job”, don’t they? Because without a new client to purchase what they’re selling, how is there any any hope of a paycheck in the future? Even if that salesperson is a salaried professional, without showing results for their employer, there’s no guarantee the employer will continue to employ that salesperson.

I think therefore, we can agree that a professional salesperson, whether commissioned or salaried, knows that prospecting for new business is the number one priority for their days, each and every day.

That’s not to say they all follow through on the actions necessary to prospect. “Prospecting avoidance” is a commonly understood malady in the sales profession. Sales Managers everywhere constantly harangue their sales teams to hit the pavements, ring the doorbells, make the calls, set the appointments, to fulfill the promise of prospecting.

Avoidance of prospecting comes out of the simple psychological fear of rejection. We all have it. Besides, as simple as prospecting can often turn out to be when you actually do it, it can also be as difficult to initiate.

It’s no wonder then that business owners who are NOT professional salespeople may suffer from this very disease of prospecting avoidance. The creative excuses people come up with to avoid having to make prospecting calls are legendary. Yet, as the owner of your business, unless you have a professional salesperson or sales team working for you, you must must, must, Prospect for new business.
The only way to overcome your avoidance of your emotional pain about Prospecting is to simply attach a level of importance to this task.

We hear so often from Business Owners of being distracted with other important tasks: making payroll; attending to a malfunctioning machine on the shop floor; taking a call from the accountant/attorney/spouse/pesky customer/excellent customer/number one account/printer/fleet mechanic and on and on and on.

The Business Owner has attached a level of importance to each and every one of these tasks. Attach that same level of importance to Prospecting. You must. Absolutely must. Your business health, wealth and survival depends on you doing so.

Once you make Prospecting as important an activity as any other in running your business, all those other avoidance afflictions melt away into nothing. Fear of rejection disappears. Procrastination towards your Prospecting Plan converts to an optimistic sense of urgency.

And, yes, you may even like Prospecting.

Our Comfort Zone is Unsafe

I’ve been skydiving, twice. Yes, it was terrifying, both times. I imagined all the worst case scenarios…and they all resulted in death. When you jump out of an airplane at 13,000 feet, there’s that first feeling of free falling. Queue Tom Petty, please.

This is not butterflies; this is sheer terror. For many split seconds, I wondered: “how did I get up here, jumping into this big blue sky that’s so high?” But I did it. I got out of my comfort zone. And I lived to tell this tale.

Doesn’t it make you nervous to get out of your comfort zone? It makes me nervous. For instance, I didn’t want to write this blog for fear of having to take my own advice.

I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone in my business, too. I had no choice. I had a deliberate plan to build my business to a certain level. The only way to get to that level was to get out of my comfort zone, jump out of the metaphorical airplane and do things that were uncomfortable but necessary.

Why would you get out of your comfort zone if  you know something works? Getting out of your comfort zone implies pain. Who wants pain?

There’s a reason we do things that scare us. When we do something scary, we put ourselves in a situation and/or surround ourselves with circumstances that we wouldn’t otherwise experience. But, the real problem with staying in our comfort zone is missing out on opportunities.

Skydiving and/or public speaking provide opportunities to learn about ourselves by getting out of our comfort zone and trying something new, and potentially scary. I survived both skydiving jumps and I managed to leverage the two experiences into successful marketing campaigns for my business. This opened up opportunities to win clients. The bonus was also being featured in a book, Make What You Say Pay, by Anne Miller, Sales and Presentation Coach.

Sometimes, doing what we know feels productive. When we want something done, we do it ourselves. Like marketing. Or fixing a leaky faucet. We’re in our comfort zone; we believe we know what to do, and we believe it’ll get done faster. But sometimes getting it done faster isn’t the most efficient use of our time. And sometimes, we actually fail. Sometimes, that leaky faucet repair we tried to fix ourselves turns out to be a disaster.

How do you move from being set in your ways to getting out of your comfort zone?

First, if you have a doubt or fear about doing something you’ve never done before, realize that could be a trigger that there’s experience and growth waiting for you. The fear of jumping out of the airplane is replaced by positive anticipation of the experience. Sheer joy is so much better than sheer terror.

How else can you execute on this trigger?

Decide how you want to grow. Is it personally or professionally? Or both?

  • Do you want to grow your business to the next level?
  • Do you want to have more adventure in your life?
  • Do you want to date more suitable companions?

Be specific in setting your goal so you can know how to proceed with the following task which is to research activities necessary to perform the fearful task. Taking on small challenges will lead to the ultimate goal if you break it down into mini deadlines.

Speaking of public speaking, if you fear public speaking, join a Toastmasters Club. This practice will hone your skills while in
front of a group. This will begin to build good habits around this activity.

As part of achieving my previous business goals, I wanted to get over my fear of public speaking. Not only did I join a Toastmasters Club, I also enrolled in an Improv Acting class. This practice of being in front of people diminished the feeling of embarrassment while performing “think on your feet” acts.

You can discuss with a friend or colleague how to bring life to your thought. Then make the bold move and announce it to the world. To assist with staying accountable to the task, calendar each progression so you know how far out of your comfort zone you’ve come.

All of these activities assist you to imagine your outcome of success. Trish Tagle is an expert in leadership training and troubleshooting organization efficiency in order to evolve businesses. Trish is famous for saying, “imagine the outcome.

Here’s a great example of a business owner who challenged her team to get out of their comfort zone.

My friend and colleague, Kelly Piro, owner of  Agency Performance Partners invited me to judge a “Sales Showdown” for her company. Twice a year, the APP consultants undergo role-playing exercises in order to practice how they interact with prospects. The objective is to convert prospects to clients faster.

ROLE-PLAYING? Yes!

The APP team had various scenarios such as being at a trade show, being on a sales call or in an initial sales meeting. There were several of us observing while the team role-played their scenarios. By critiquing their performance, the judges and the fellow team members pushed everyone out of their comfort zones. It was easy to do in the role-playing scenarios because it was practice, it was imaginary, and no one actually jumped out of an airplane.

Outsourcing important tasks is another way to get out of your comfort zone. Like hiring a plumber to fix that faucet. Cost tends to be the primary impediment before people make the call to the plumber. It’s “comfortable” to think we can save money by doing it ourselves. But we have other things to do with our time and we’re not actually plumbers, are we?

It could be argued that watching a couple of YouTube videos on plumbing and doing the work ourselves is also getting out of our comfort zone. True. But that’s not the point of my blog! Because I want to be your plumber! Except, I do marketing, not plumbing!  I’m expert at it and you should get out of your comfort zone and let me work for you in mine!

I promise it will not feel as terrifying as jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 feet.