The networking event at the Chamber of Commerce was packed with prospects. The music, food and venue were perfect for meeting new people and seeing old friends. You collected a stack of business cards with notes scribbled on the back to remember specifics about the person and what they are interested in. So what are you waiting for? There are dollar signs in those cards, sales to be made and contracts to write.
Last night, you couldn’t wait to get into the office or grab your smartphone and start mining those prospects. This morning, you're not so anxious to get started. With just a few hours of separation from those friendly faces, firm handshakes and “call me” requests, your excitement is quickly being replaced by uncertainty and, yes, a little fear.
Procrastination—the habit of putting things off—is often driven by fear, or so says an article in USA Today, “On the Job—Learn How To Avoid Procrastination.” A career in sales is full of fear-evoking situations. The “Big R,” or Rejection, is the toughest. Competition, customer satisfaction, product or service failure; things out of your control can make any salesperson second-guess himself and put off taking action.
Perfectionists are classic procrastinators. They want everything to be perfect before they take action, and spend time spinning their wheels, constantly tweaking a presentation or information packet to the point that it is never delivered.
The article offers tips on how to beat procrastination from Jude Bijou, a psychotherapist and author of Attitude Reconstruction, and Carson Tate, founder and principal of Working Simple. They offer ways to conquer your fears and break the bonds of procrastination. One tip comes from the dogs. Dogs shake and quiver when they are afraid. Get real and express your fears. Instead of stifling natural reactions, experience the fear to overcome it.
Face your fears is another tip for overcoming procrastination. What things are you afraid of? Write them down, and then examine them one at a time. The prospect will say no. Okay, make a list of counters to objections. Arm yourself with convincing answers to possible objections to boost your confidence and help you get started. Look at the list and determine if they are really true or just a figment of your imagination. Fear can be a great opt-out. (As in, "I’m afraid, so I won't risk anything and won't be let down.") Fear is no excuse for not even trying.
The next suggestion is only effective if you’re comfortable with this exercise and you’re alone. "Have a good cry" is another suggestion to release anxiety and tension. Crying in front of customers isn’t the way to make a good impression. If you’re the teary-eyed kind, getting it over with may be the best course of action With the tears behind you, you can regroup and get on with business.
Decide what’s good enough and do nothing more. Perfectionists are constantly trying to make things better, even when what is good enough is good enough for the customers. Reports should be error free; PowerPoints shouldn’t have any spelling errors. If you almost flunked high school English, hire an editor before you send out a letter or product portfolio. But enough is enough. While you’re editing minutiae, someone else is talking to your prospect.
Do your best, and take some credit for your successes. Make a list of your latest clients, projects, contracts or billings. Remind yourself that you’re getting things done and effectively working with prospects and bringing in the business. Nothing encourages action like success.
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