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Overcoming The Fear Of Success By Sandy Schussel


While most people think that the biggest fear we face in sales is the fear of failure, the fear of success is actually much more pervasive and paralyzing.

Lisa, age 28, had been earning $40,000 a year at her technical job and switched to a straight commission sales job with a company that provides printing services, because it promised her unlimited earning potential and flexible hours.

In her first six months in sales, starting with cold calls, Lisa cleared $31,000. But how much do you think she earned in her next six months?

That’s right, $9,000. Somehow, despite her continued activity on the phone, she could not set as many appointments, she had more cancellations, and she ended up with significantly fewer sales per kept appointment, so that her income came out to be just about what it was at her old job.

How could that have happened? It appeared that Lisa was actually avoiding her sales success of the first six months–but why would anyone avoid success?

My client called me to ask if I might be able to help Lisa. As it turns out, her problem is a common subject of coaching. Whenever sales professionals are having a run of “bad luck,” fear of success may be at the root of it.

Dr. Kerry Johnson, suggests that this is not usually an issue of self-confidence, but something more specific, arising out of two limiting beliefs that may have become embedded in our thinking:

1. The belief that the only path to financial success is through extremely hard work. If we have a belief—conscious or unconscious—that our sales success is coming too easily or too quickly, we’ll actually slow ourselves down.

2. The belief that being too successful is somehow wrong. If we’ve been taught that “money is the root of all evil,” and “you can only make money off someone else’s back,” we may start back-peddling when we suddenly find ourselves making real money. If we think we’ll hurt dad’s feelings if we’re earning more than he does, we’ll slow down our activity so as not to get too far ahead of him.

Here are the symptoms that you may be suffering from the fear of success:

1. Your sales have stayed flat or decreased, even though you’re not working any less or doing anything substantially different.

2. You feel guilty about your small successes, but you’re not sure why.

3. You’re missing what usually are easy sales, especially after you’ve had a good week.

4. You’re “forgetting” to follow through on a promise made to a prospect or client—and blowing sales that were “in the bag” by doing something unusually foolish.

If you think you have any of these symptoms, you may be backing away from the success you deserve—even sabotaging it. Here are some of the things you can do to turn your situation around:

1. Take a look at where your sales are now. Set goals and get them down in writing.

2. Observe and record each time and place that the “fear factor” appears in your daily sales activity—that uncomfortable or guilty feeling.

3. Talk these out with your manager—or get some coaching.

Once Lisa learned that she had created her own limitations and started to catch herself before she let those guilty feeling associated with her success cause damage, her earnings started to soar. This year, she’s on track to earn a comfortable six-figure income—doing less “work” than she did last year.
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Sandy Schussel, is the “More Clients” Coach who went from being a rainmaker for his law firm, to running his own seminar business, to being hired as the national sales training director of a financial services brokerage. He is the author of the acclaimed book, The High Diving Board: How To Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams. Visit Sandy’s website at BrassRingCoaching.com and sign up for his free weekly e-letter, REACHING…

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