Why are Salespeople Afraid to Sell? How to Overcome the FEAR of Selling and Prospecting in 5 Minutes

Does the idea of prospecting scare you? Are you a fearless salesperson or do you procrastinate the activities that will enable you to achieve your sales goals? Even if you’re hiding behind Social Media as your primary lead generation strategy, you eventually need to speak with every prospect! Here’s how to overcome sales and prospecting reluctance permanently to become a fearless rainmaker and prospecting prodigy.

Are you aware of the limiting thinking you may be harboring towards selling, cold calling and your prospects? When salespeople resist business development activities, such as cold calling, or even asking for referrals, a typical response from many sales managers is to provide additional training, role-playing, a revised presentation, or more qualified prospects to call on as the solution to improving prospecting results and productivity.

Granted, salespeople do report an increased level of confidence and a decrease in prospecting reluctance when they’ve been provided with the right tools, processes, and systems. Unfortunately, these tactics don’t fully and permanently eliminate the anxiety or level of resistance that salespeople experience when selling.

Rather than focus on the skills of selling, focus on the INNER GAME of selling. That’s where the real breakthroughs occur. 

The real issue is not tapping into the source of cold calling reluctance. Fixing the symptom without understanding the source of the problem only results in a temporary solution.

Instead of focusing on strategies or activities that only address the symptom, explore the source of your anxiety to permanently overcome the fear and resistance to selling and prospecting; your beliefs surrounding them.

Managers, if you’re spending too much time trying to get your salespeople to prospect, then you haven’t uncovered the root cause of their resistance – their thinking.  

Selling, Prospecting and Cold Calling Aren’t Dirty Words

When I ask salespeople about their feelings or attitude towards prospecting or any business development activity, especially the ones that require actually connecting with a prospect over the phone or in person, I hear the following responses.

1. I fear rejection.
2. I don’t want the prospect to say, “No” or hang up on me because I take it personally.
3. I call on people who have other things to do than speak with someone they don’t even know. I’ll just be interrupting and annoying them.
4. I am a stranger. Why should they talk to me and give me their time?
5. I don’t want to say the wrong thing.
6. I don’t want to come across the wrong way and destroy a potentially good selling opportunity.
7. I am not going to come across professionally. I would rather meet with them face to face, since I present myself better in person.
8. I am not comfortable with my prospecting approach, so I don’t want to look bad.
9. I know they’re not interested.
10. I don’t want to impose or be intrusive. Who am I to call on the C-SUITE?
11. I know they’re probably happy with their current vendor. If they weren’t, they would call me.
12. I hate being cold called!
13. I don’t want to have to close hard or push something on someone.
14. I don’t want to deal with shoppers.
15. I hate leaving voice mails. They never answer the phone and certainly never return my calls or emails.

Conversely, when I ask salespeople what they love about cold calling, what I get is:


It Ain’t About You!

Look at the first word that begins each sentence above.

I, I, I, I, I!

Making the selling and prospecting process about YOU is the number one roadblock to successful prospecting and the number one cause of fear and reluctance.

While many salespeople would say the selling process is about the customer, they wind up making it about themselves. Just look at some of the limiting beliefs and assumptions that contribute to selling reluctance. Think about all the fears or concerns you may experience when it comes to prospecting and selling.

Instead of making the selling process about you and how much you can gain if you sell, or what you’ll lose if you don’t, make it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them.

If you are experiencing any fear or resistance to prospecting, look at who you’re making the selling process about. Chances are, you’re making it about you!

Once you shift your focus and energy towards making the sales process about the prospect, it will immediately relieve you of the unnecessary pressure to look good and perform.

You are either making the selling process about you and how much you can lose, gain (money, sales, quota attainment, status, and so on), your fear of rejection, looking bad, or hearing “No,” or you’re making it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them.

Now, the prospecting process is no longer focused on the salesperson’s negative assumptions or fears but on the prospect and the value and advantages that you can provide.

If you are making the sale about you and are concerned about your performance, how are you ever going to capture a prospect’s interest when all of your energy, concentration and attention is being directed on to you rather than focused on the prospect?

What You Focus on Grows

Salespeople have tendency to exploit all the reasons why they don’t like to prospect, why it doesn’t work or why they won’t succeed at cold calling.

However, have you ever taken the time to develop the reasons why you will succeed?

To make this real for you, if you believe that cold calling is, “Forcing someone to accept something they don’t want, intrusive, annoying, manipulative, a waste of time, intimidating, scary, something I hate being subjected to myself, and so on,” that’s exactly what you’ll continue to experience every time you cold call.

Whatever you assume or believe about cold calling, your prospects, yourself, selling, and your career is exactly what you’ll manifest in your life.

If you believe that all prospects are a certain way (uninterested, shoppers, rude, are only concerned with price) then how do you think you are going to approach each call, email, LinkedIn invitation, or deliver your presentation; whether you realize it or not?

Think about the type of prospect that you are going to be attracting, the questions you would be asking based on your fears and assumptions, and the kind of objections you’ll be hearing? Based on your current assumptions surrounding cold calling, prospects and selling, every new experience will now become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Change Your Inner Narrative –  New Business Development Can Be Fun!

To combat this, consider challenging these assumptions and replacing them with healthier beliefs and an inner narrative that would better serve you. For example, I love (or like) to cold call and prospect because:

1. It lets the prospect know where they can locate the best product/service they need.
2. I can share all the incredible advantages of my product/service with the people who can benefit from it most.
3. I can genuinely deliver value, educate my prospects, serve people, and improve people’s lives, regardless if I make the sale.
4. I can then become a prospect’s trusted expert or advisor so that they can make the best purchasing decision.
5. I can prevent people from making potentially costly mistakes that result from purchasing the wrong product/service or using a company that may not effectively fill their needs.
6. It’s possible to earn the business of more prospects who I wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect with otherwise. The more I call, the more I sell. The more I sell, the more customers I have. The byproduct? I  become the consultative coach and sales champion I want to be.

Selling isn’t scary. It’s the beliefs you choose to adopt that makes it either a negative or positive experience. 

When working with different sales teams, I always find it interesting that some salespeople attract the difficult customers. They then find themselves in a position where they have to negotiate price, have more cancellations or returns, or have to deal with prospects that want to review three separate proposals before making a purchasing decision.

Conversely, there are other salespeople who seem to effortlessly generate the best leads and get the desirable, loyal customers and repeat business.

How You Think Is What You Get

This is not a coincidence. Ask yourself, “What role is my attitude playing in this?” “How is my thinking and my assumptions affecting my performance?” Once you can identify your current limiting beliefs surrounding selling, prospecting; including cold calling, you are then at choice to abandon them and adopt the beliefs that best serve you, and your customers.

Well, it’s been about five minutes since you started this article. Have you chosen to make this critical mindshift?

It’s this simple. Make the selling process about the prospect and customer, and the value you can deliver, rather than focusing on what you can personally gain if you sell, or the fear of what you’ll lose if you don’t.

Once you do so, the sale then becomes the natural byproduct of your selfless efforts, commitment to serving others, and good intentions.