Learn Something New Every Day

You’ll be interested in four practical courses I created to help you advance your career. These are short lessons that arrive in your email.  They are published on the Daily Bits Of website.

Here’s what the folks at Daily Bits of have to say:

“Daily Bits Of is a service for people who love learning. People whose curiosity never ends, who see gaining knowledge as an ongoing process and who believe they can acquire any skill they might need to handle work and life’s challenges.

We know that finding time for learning can be difficult. We buy books that pile up, save articles that remain unread and rarely have time for that online course we’ve been longing to take. This is why we created Daily Bits Of as a tool to help people create a daily habit of learning something new.”

Taking the Fear Out of Public Speaking

The Art of Listening

Preventing Marketing Paralysis

 

I hope you enjoy these courses.

Source material has been taken from my book Critical Connections – The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

Where Did Your Customers Go?

Marketing researchers have obsessed over customer loyalty for ages. Large corporations have devised elaborate customer loyalty programs. But things are changing, quickly. Nowadays, customer loyalty is slipping through the fingers of corporations. I sifted through several market research studies on loyalty and brand loyalty. I concluded that when it comes to keeping customers loyal, there is no one magic bullet or best practice.

Here’s an example of a customer (me) going from loyal to disloyal. I used to be a loyal customer of United Airlines. I attained the status of Premier Executive, got all the perks, and enjoyed life in business class. Then Southwest entered my local market. Cheap fares, no frills, easy to book. I had reservations (is there a pun somewhere here?) about the cattle-car feeling at Southwest and its policy of using a first-come, first-served seat selection process. Before I switched, I considered what it meant to me to give up my status on United and hop on an all-steerage airline.

When I started writing this piece, I realized I was Mr. New Consumer. I wanted more for less. Maybe Southwest would give me more for less. Let’s see, there were more Southwest flights available at all three of my local airports. Not only were there more flights, but Southwest also flew to more places than United.

Fares were considerably cheaper. To make matters worse with United, I became skeptical when United started limiting perks for frequent flyers. And, I was more doubtful about the future of this airline when United merged with Continental Airlines. I started to see tangible value by flying Southwest. I decided to switch from United to Southwest. I thought I made a good decision.

To complicate matters about customer loyalty, I know that by using one of my credit cards, I could use points accrued from making purchases on my credit card to pay for airfares, hotels, gas, or airline baggage fees. For example, there are credit cards that earn about 2 percent rewards per $1 spent when you redeem for travel. Credit card customers acquire 40,000 (or some other amount) bonus miles when they charge $3,000 worth of purchases within a given time period. This translates into about $400 in travel statement credit. The beauty of using this type of credit card is you are not limited to using any one airline.

 

What did I do? I closed out my old credit card, signed up for this new one, and started accruing points. So much for being a loyal credit card customer. Now I could pay for my Southwest trips using points from my credit card, and get great fares, too.

 

A Bit of Recent History

The story doesn’t stop here. In 2008, Airbnb bursts on the scene. You all know Airbnb. According to its website:

“Airbnb is a community marketplace where guests can book spaces from hosts, connecting people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.”

Through their experiences on Airbnb, guests and hosts build real connections with real people from all over the globe.

Airbnb has taken the idea of renting rooms to a whole new level. Prior to booking your room, you can read customer reviews as well as read what the property owners say about past renters.

The arrival of Airbnb type services brought up a key fact about loyalty. Customers now rely more on information about hotels from other customers rather than from the hotel’s advertising.

There goes loyalty down the drain

According to a recent study, there has been a drop in customer’s loyalty to hotel brands. Only 8 percent of those polled who stay in hotels said they always book

at the same hotel chain. Two reasons for this mass defection might be consumers can quickly find cheaper hotel prices and customer reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor, Kayak, and Trivago. Who wouldn’t want to pay less for the same or better quality hotel room? Remember today’s customer demands high quality at reasonable prices.

 

Customers are on high-alert, searching for the best value for their money. Kiss loyalty goodbye.

 

Now back to the beleaguered airlines. The market research firm Colloquy found “54 percent of U.S. airline loyalty-program members
are ‘unhappy’ with their reward options”. And, 48 percent say they’ve been “frustrated” by the reward redemption process.

 

Let’s look at the chronology of this story.

  • First, I defected from United to Southwest
  • After that, I used up all of my hotel points
  • Then, I applied my credit card points to pay for hotels or airfares
  • Finally, I switched to using Airbnb properties and paying for it with points from my credit card.

When I seriously began to rely on other people’s reviews, I became more and more aware of the impact other customers had on my purchasing decisions. The customer’s needs were no longer driven by loyalty, but by quality and value.

DailyBitsOf what?

Interview with Niklas Laninge

As a marketing consultant, workshop presenter, and business advisor, I’ve been challenged to teach business concepts and processes in a concise and concrete manner. I thought I had it right. Just as I was feeling confident, Niklas Laninge from DailyBitsOf contacted me. He asked me if I’d like to write a bite-sized course on Overcoming Your Fear of Selling. Well, that sounds easy. Or was it? Each lesson of the mini-course would be send to subscribers via email. One a day for ten days. Maximum 300 words per lesson. It was not easy to synthesize my thoughts without dumbing-down the content. It was hard work. Now I was hooked. As of this writing, I have created four mini-courses. And, I thank Niklas Laninge for his support and encouragement. Who is this guy?

I had the privilege of interviewing Niklas Laninge, the co-founder of DailyBitsOf. What is DailyBitsOf?

DailyBitsOf is a service for people who love learning. People whose curiosity never ends, who see gaining knowledge as an ongoing process and who believe they can acquire any skill they might need to handle work and life’s challenges. We know that finding time for learning can be difficult. We buy books that pile up, save articles that remain unread and rarely have time for that online course we’ve been longing to take. This is why we created DailyBitOf as a tool to help people create a daily habit of learning something new.

EL: What motivated you and your colleagues to start DailyBitsOf?

NL: We all love learning new things, but we all felt that life often gets in the way. Since we all have worked within tech for a long time we had so many examples of products and ideas that fail because of friction and not being able to cut through the noise. This is why we decided to create a simple learning format that would be delivered to a place where you already spend a lot of time at – email and Messenger.

EL: Tell me a little about your background?

NL: I’m a psychologist by training and a technologist by passion. I have built and launched a lot of software that all aimed at helping people change behaviors. One was a platform for therapists and their patients, which would allow the patients to have some digital support between sessions. In September I will release a book called Behavior Design which is a collection of the best research and application of research I have encountered during my eight years in helping people use technology to change behavior.

EL: I noticed you changed your business model several times in the past two years. Why did you do that?

NL: We started out by being more of a tool for companies to gain fans by teaching small micro-courses on topics relevant to their business. We quickly noticed that the courses we got from this business model didn’t resonate at all with our values or our core-users. So we decided to aim at making the impossible possible – ask people to pay for content. By doing so we would motivate the best experts to put out their courses on our platform, and raise the bar at the same time – quality wise.

EL: How do you find such creative course instructors?

NL: Hard work, googling, reading blogs and 100s of hours listening to various podcasts. Luckily many of them find us nowadays.

 

EL: What are some of your most popular courses?

NL: The two courses we have on behavioral economics are popular. We’re talking tens of thousands of people. Then there’s our courses on productivity with our course “How to Beat Procrastination” being the most popular within that category.

 

EL: If you could identify one thing that makes DailyBitsOf unique, what would that be?

NL: I’d guess it’s our ability to attract so many great experts and make it so easy for them to repackage their expertise. Also, our ability to deliver something as short as a 2 minute read that still have an impact on the way people behave.

 

EL: What are your plans for the future for DailyBitsOf?

NL: I’m always thinking about more platforms, like would Slack be a good place to consume a course? Then it’s packaging. When we started micro-learning wasn’t really a thing, now I see new companies pop-up every week – even Google have an own version. So I’m thinking a lot about our role in this landscape. The big challenge is to get people to commit to more than just one course at a time. This is a challenge we’ll probably be tackling during summer (2017).

Niklas@dailybitsof.com

https://dailybitsof.com

 

 

What’s The Difference Between Transactional and Relational Marketing?

What’s The Difference Between Transactional and Relational Marketing?

 Let’s say you’re building a marketing plan to sell garden hoses. Your marketing strategies and sales tactics are straightforward transactions. When you sell a product, your customer shops for price and options- length, thickness, type of material, etc.

There is little or no emotional involvement in the sale. The sale is a direct transaction using traditional sales techniques.

However, if you provide personal or professional services such as financial planning, tutoring, or any kind of consulting, your marketing and sales tactics are relational, not transactional. Relational selling requires you to make a connection with potential clients or customers prior to making the sale.

Relational selling is value driven, not price driven. You must assure potential clients or customers they are receiving a high-quality service delivered by a knowledgeable professional. In a relational model, there is some emotional involvement in the sales process. Let’s face it, buying a garden hose is not an emotionally-charged experience,

Think about the following:

  1. Do my marketing and sales efforts require transactional or relational strategies?
  2. If I’m marketing a professional service, what is the one key message I want my potential client to know?
  3. If I’m selling a product, what are the one or two most important features and benefits of my product?

Keep in mind that marketing professional services is all about building and maintaining relationships with your clients.

For more information about relationship and referral-based marketing, click HERE.

 

 

Fight Challenge With Strength

Let’s talk about your strengths that help you reach your business goals, and challenges that might prevent you from becoming successful. When participants explore their strengths
 and confront their challenges in my marketing workshops, they feel better equipped to make their business goals a reality.

A strength is a trait, characteristic, or skill that comes effortlessly to you. If something comes naturally to you, it’s a strength that you most likely enjoy using. More ethereally, you can’t be great at doing something unless it’s a strength. Even when others recognize your strengths, you might minimize them because  your strengths might be taken for granted.

A challenge is an activity that takes you out of your emotional and intellectual comfort zone and could cause anxiety. When you face a challenge, you’ll need to harness many of your internal strengths to achieve success. My psychotherapist friends like to say that dealing with a challenge can be an area of personal growth.

You often hear people refer to one’s strengths and weaknesses. I equate weakness with helplessness. I see weakness as a fault emanating from the world of negativity. Not good. Living in a world of negativity is a bummer. Negativity begets more negativity.

There are two different approaches to working with your strengths and challenges. First, you identify your strengths and use them to their fullest advantage. Second, you recognize your challenges and work to overcome them. Your strengths are not necessarily related to your challenges, but they can be.

Ben’s Story

Here’s an example of how one of my marketing workshop participants worked on his strengths and challenges. Ben is a 28-year-old graphic designer. He currently works for an advertising agency and wants to leave the agency to start his own graphic design studio. I asked him to tell me one key strength he would bring to building his own business. He immediately replied, “I’m creative!”

Next, I asked Ben to describe the most difficult challenge he faces in building his business. He hesitated for a few seconds, and then said; “I’m always second guessing myself about my ability to be creative. I question whether I’m able to sell and whether I’m good enough to compete in the market.” For the first time, Ben was able to articulate his challenge.

Next, I asked Ben to carefully look at this difficult challenge. Then I probed deeper and asked him if there is some other way in which he might be second guessing himself. Ben looked down for a few seconds. He seemed to be somewhere else. “I don’t know.”

Another question. “Ben, think hard now. What, if any internal messages do you have about yourself that would make it difficult for you to overcome your challenge?”

Now Ben was deep in thought. “I’m not smart enough to be doing this,” Ben revealed. “My parents always compared me to my older brother who I thought was smarter. But it extends farther than that.

“Ben,” I asked, “is there something positive you would like to tell yourself in place of your negative message?” Ben replied, “I’m a competent, creative professional”.

I gave Ben a pen and an index card and asked him to:

  1. Write this positive message on the card

2. Display the card in a prominent place where it can be seen every day

Now that Ben had a clear picture of his new positive message, we went on to the next part of the exercise. I asked him if he had at least one concrete idea to address his challenge of second guessing himself. Ben, feeling more confident, said he would make a list of his recent accomplishments.

Finally, I asked the other workshop participants if they had any ideas to help Ben.

Someone suggested that Ben call one of his colleagues and friends to remind him that he’s a competent professional. Another suggested that Ben reread his list of accomplishments when he would start to second-guess himself. My suggestion was a straightforward message for Ben to say to himself: “I have an amazingly successful track record.”

Ben was candid about his struggle with second guessing himself. He took a good, hard look at himself. After the workshop Ben told me he felt like a burden had been lifted off his back. Good work, Ben.

Now it’s your turn. Answer the following questions:

  1. What are three strengths you bring to building your business?
  2. What are three challenges you face in building your business?
  3. Looking at the most difficult challenge you identified, is there something more you know about this challenge?
  4. Think hard now. What, if any internal messages do you have about yourself that would make it difficult for you to overcome your main challenge?
  5. Is there a positive message you have about yourself that can replace your negative message?
  6. Name several ideas you have to deal with your main challenge

If confronting and doing something about your challenges seems daunting, take a step back and focus on your strengths.

One final note:

“Our ability to handle life’s challenges is a measure of our strength of character.”

Les Brown

For more information about relationship and referral-based marketing, click HERE.

 

Preventing Marketing Paralysis – Final Chapter

Help Is On The Way

If you’re suffering from the pain and anguish of marketing paralysis, don’t worry. You can get immediate and long-term relief. How’s that going to happen?

Phone a Friend. It’s a good idea to talk things over with a friend and get some advice. You might want to discuss a new idea, clarify a stumbling block, or just plain talk about your business. When you’re considering starting a solo business, it gets lonely quickly in the early stages of planning your business strategies.

Phone a friend who is not employed in your industry or profession. You want fresh eyes on your situation. You want the other person’s perspective. When you initially talk with your friends, do not ask them to solve your problem for you. However, most of the time, when someone gives you advice, the advice is more about what the other person needs rather than what you need.

Do not let them give you advice (easier said than done). Ask them to listen and act as a sounding board. Sometimes, just saying aloud what your situation is can be helpful. Now, you can brainstorm ideas or solutions.

Write It Down. Now it’s time to get back to basics. In order to jump-start your marketing efforts and prevent yourself from getting paralyzed, do the following:

In one or two sentences, write your answers to the following questions.

  • What are the unique characteristics of my target market?
  • What is my compelling message I want to communicate to my target market?
  • What is the number one most effective promotional vehicle to get my message out?

Use your answers to the above questions as a reminder to keep yourself on track and help you focus on where your business is going and what will be driving your marketing decisions. If you feel yourself becoming paralyzed, refer back to your answers.

What are your strengths and challenges?

Why are we talking about personal strengths and challenges? If we understand some of the more personal thoughts we have about marketing your business, we can get a better handle on how to overcome marketing paralysis.

A strength is a trait, characteristic, or skill that comes effortlessly to you. Sometimes others recognize your strengths while you minimize them. We usually take our strengths for granted. If something comes naturally to you, it’s a strength. Most likely you enjoy using your strengths. You’ve always valued your strengths. In a more ethereal sense, you can’t be great at doing something unless it’s a strength.

A challenge (intrinsic or extrinsic) is some activity that takes you out of your emotional and intellectual comfort zone and could cause paralysis. When you face a challenge, you’ll need to harness your internal strengths to overcome the challenge. My psychotherapist friends like to say that dealing with a challenge can be an area of personal growth.

There are two different approaches to working with your strengths and challenges. In the first approach, you identify your strengths and use them to their fullest advantage. In the second approach, you recognize your challenges and work to overcome them. Your strengths are not necessarily related to your challenges, but they can be.

If you identify your strengths and challenges, you’ll be able to build on them and meet any challenge that might pop up along the way.

Try this: Name two strengths you bring to building your business. Now, name two challenges you face. If you want to avoid marketing paralysis, go with your strengths.

Review

In Chapters 1 and 2, you learned about the causes of marketing paralysis. In Chapters 3, 4, and 5 you learned the signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis. And, in Chapter 6 you learned about your strengths and challenges as related to marketing.

Now, you’re armed with all the weapons needed to overcome marketing paralysis. Go for it.

 

For more information about how to maximize your strengths click HERE.

How to Prevent Marketing Paralysis -Chapter 5

We’ve been talking about marketing paralysis.Here’s another symptom.

Boil the ocean: When clients come to me for help, I ask what they have done and what they are planning to do to start promoting their business. I’ll usually hear something like: “I’m working on my website. I just started Tweeting. I’m blogging. I’m planning to speak at an upcoming local seminar.”

When I hear this litany of activities, I wonder if this person is trying to boil the ocean. The term “boil the ocean” is one of many business jargon phrases used to embellish a point. Boil the ocean means to take on too much, over-extend yourself, or become overly ambitious. This is a recipe for failure.

Next time you are at the seashore (if you live inland, a large lake or river will do), try to take that entire body of water and boil it. How are you going to do it? Now that you are disappointed you couldn’t boil the ocean, try this. Take a teaspoon from your kitchen drawer. Go back to the ocean, river, or lake you just visited. Dip the teaspoon in the ocean. Using a cigarette lighter, place it under the teaspoon and see what happens. In a matter of minutes, the water will boil. Congratulations, you have successfully boiled a teaspoon of oceanSo, what’s the point here? Be realistic in how much you can do. How many marketing related projects can anyone take on at a time? The key to successful marketing is to figure out how much time, energy, and money you can expend on your marketing efforts. Next time you feel overwhelmed by the number of things to do, think teaspoon.

So far, we’ve talked about three causes of marketing paralysis:

1. Using the wrong marketing model

2. Getting unhelpful or misguided advice

3. Getting overloaded with information.

We talked about some of the most prevalent signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis:

1. The glazed over look

2. Going down the rabbit hole

3. Second-guessing and overthinking, and,

4. Boiling the ocean.

Now, we will discuss the fifth symptom of marketing paralysis: Putting the cart before the horse. Metaphorically speaking, the cart represents a specific promotional tool (social media platforms, websites, print and broadcast, etc.). The horse represents your target group or customer segment.

Here’s how you can easily get paralyzed.

  1. You decide to start a business – (you’re starting off great)
  2. You write a marketing plan – (ok, so far, so good)
  3. You come up with an idea of how to promote your business (you’ve now put the cart before the horse)
  4. After you’ve come up with some innovative ways to promote your business (the cart), you think of who your customers are (the horse)

If you continue this way, chances are high that you’ll stall out your marketing efforts. It’s not too late to avoid this problem.

Try this:

First: “Who is my most important target group”. If you don’t know who your customers are, how are you going to make an informed choice as to what promotional vehicles to use?

Second: Create your sales message touting the benefits and features of your business.

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 4

Last time we discussed one symptom of marketing paralysis: the glazed over look. Now, we’ll discuss two more symptoms: going down the rabbit hole and second-guessing/overthinking.

According to the English Oxford Dictionary, ‘going down the rabbit hole’ refers to “a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself.”

This is an irresistible and uncontrollable urge to dive into the nitty-gritty and, unwittingly get stuck in the weeds of your situation. Rather than taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you focus on the minute details of your marketing campaign: the colors for your promotional information, key words to be used in your website, which social media platform to use, etc. Details, details, details.

There’s a time and place for the details. Don’t get me wrong, details can be complicated and can cause problems. But, don’t let the minutia drag you down in the early stages of creating a marketing campaign.

Think of a time when going down the rabbit hole hindered or halted your progress on a project. Now, think of a time when going down the rabbit hole helped you.

Now you know the three causes of marketing paralysis (using the wrong model of marketing, getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload). You can identify two of the three signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis (the glaze and going down the rabbit hole).

We now focus on the third symptom: Second-guessing and overthinking.

Second-guessing and overthinking occurs when you question and doubt every decision you make, large or small. You think too much about your next move or think for too long.  You expend emotional energy anticipating or predicting what negative thing might happen. Your thinking gets cloudy and your anxiety hits the roof. You wind up in the world of negativity. The result can be total shut down of your thinking and marketing efforts. Not good.

I’ve heard the following statements more than once from people starting out in business. “I’m always second guessing myself about my ability to start a business. I question whether I’m able to sell and whether I’m good enough to compete in the market.”

How can your prevent overthinking and second-guessing?

  1. Stay clear of others who ‘want to help solve your problem’
  2. Go to the gym and sweat off your negativity (a symptom of over-thinking)
  3. Go for the ‘quick win’. Find a small project that’s easy to do and that gives you some payoff
  4. It takes about 20 minutes to calm down after experiencing an upsetting situation. Take 20 minutes to collect yourself.

It’s time to stop over-thinking and second-guessing.

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 2

stop-sign-37020_640Here are two more causes of marketing paralysis

Marketing Paralysis Cause II

Getting unhelpful or misguided advice. It’s always a good idea to talk things over with a friend and get some advice. You might want to discuss a new idea, clarify a stumbling block, or just plain talk about your business. If you’re considering starting a solo business, it gets lonely quickly in the early stages of planning your business strategies.

Key point: People love to give advice. When someone gives you advice, there’s a good chance that the advice they give you is more about what the other person needs rather than what you need. Be careful and don’t get sucked into their advice.

Phone a friend who is not employed in your industry or profession. You might want fresh eyes on your situation. You want the other person’s perspective. However, there might be times when you’ll want to talk to someone in your field of business.

When you initially talk with your friends, don’t ask your friends to solve your problem for you. Ask them not to give you advice. Ask them to listen and act as a sounding board. Sometimes, just saying aloud what your situation is can be helpful. Now, you can brainstorm ideas or solutions.

Marketing Paralysis Cause III

So far, we’ve discussed two of the three main causes of marketing paralysis – using the wrong marketing model and getting unhelpful or misguided advice. You were presented with some tips and suggestions to immunize yourself against marketing paralysis. The third cause of marketing paralysis information overload.

There are thousands of marketing resources online –print books on marketing; ebooks, self-help guides, websites focusing on how to use social media, e-seminars and podcasts. To make things even more overwhelming I found a website that listed 72 different definitions of marketing. That’s a lot of information!

Look at the Small Business Administration’s (SBA.gov) website. There are all sorts of resources available on how to market and build a small business. They have 42 online training courses and 69 videos. Reading these definitions can contribute to marketing paralysis.

There are a lot of ‘professional’ marketers out there willing to take your money to help you build a marketing plan. These self-proclaimed marketing gurus tend to profess quick solutions to complex marketing problems. They encourage you to purchase their guides and marketing plan outline. Chances are, these plans contain more information than you need.

Look back at the three causes of marketing paralysis: using the wrong model of marketing; getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload. Is there one particular cause of marketing paralysis that you can relate to? Are you using the model that best fits your business?

Sales is Not a Four Letter Word

fear-198933_640 copy

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman-not the attitude of the prospect.”   W. Clement Stone

Two of the most frustrating challenges preventing new business owners from becoming successful marketers are: 1) fear of selling, and 2) fear of setting and discussing fees or prices. I often hear new business owners say things like, “I’m not a salesperson”…”, I don’t know how to do it”…”I feel anxious at the thought of selling myself”.

Before we discuss how to overcome your fears, let’s talk about the role anxiety plays in a sales situation.

The Look Out Syndrome

You’re meeting with a prospective customer or client and start to feel nervous and self-doubting about your ability to sell. As your anxiety level increases, you focus your attention on the other person–their body language, facial expressions, or general demeanor, instead of listening to what is actually being said.

You might assume the other person is thinking negative thoughts about you. Often, your evaluation of these non-verbal cues is incorrect.

You might say to yourself, “Will I get the sale?” Now, more doubts about yourself start creeping into your head–“Is the look on the other person’s face saying he doesn’t want to work with me or purchase my product?” As a result, you probably didn’t hear most of what the other person said. You were too busy looking into the other person.

I call this the Look Out Syndrome: I am looking at you looking at me. 
And, 
I am wondering what you are thinking about me.

When you’re on the Look Out and not listening, you don’t say what you want to say because you’re too busy trying to figure out what the other person is thinking. Can we attribute Looking Out to inexperience? Immaturity? No self-control? Probably none of these.

Chances are you are scanning the prospective client so intensely that you repeat yourself or ask the same question more than once. Clearly, your thinking brain is offline.

How to Avoid the Look Out Syndrome

  1. Look at the other person, not into them. Focus on the color of their eyes, the color of their hair, or any other feature. Focusing on physical features will calm your brain so your thoughts stay focused in the present. Then there is little or no room to think what they’re thinking about you.
  1. Listen. This is probably the easiest thing in the world to say and the most difficult thing in the world to do. What is listening? How do you listen? How do you know if you’re being listened to? My advice: go online. There are plenty of resources and tutorials that can help you develop effective listening skills.
  1. Think business at all times. Your job is to sell your product or service, not to start a budding friendship. You don’t want new friends; you want customers or clients. If you focus on understanding and satisfying the business needs of customers and clients, rather than Looking Out, you’ll be able to keep personal interests out of the equation.

Fear of Selling 

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” Mary Kay Ash

Some small business owners suffer from a debilitating condition called Fear of Selling. This phobia occurs when a business owner starts thinking about being in a position to sell their product or service. The business owner goes into a panic and fear mode. It doesn’t matter if the sales situation is on the phone, via Skype or in person, fear still rears its ugly head.

Two of the most common fears are:

  • Fear of delivering a sales presentation to a group
  • Fear of giving a talking a conference or seminar

Yes, it’s the dreaded fear of public speaking. The technical terms for fear of public speaking is Glossophobia.  Two more fears that are common are:

  • Cold-calling a prospect
  • Talking to a known prospect on the phone

The fear of talking on the phone presents a real challenge for some business owner. The business owner cannot ‘read’ the other person. The business owner can’t pick up on any non-verbal cues. It’s almost as if the business owner is involved in a monologue, not a sales dialogue. It’s also hard to know when to stop the conversation so the other person can speak.

To understand how you feel when confronting the above fears, ask yourself which one of the following reactions apply to you?

Fear of delivering a sales presentation/fear of giving a talk at a conference:

☐ A) Been there, done that – no big deal

☐ B) I feel nervous, sick to my stomach, but I do it.

☐ C) I feel nervous but I’ve got it under control.

☐ D) I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it and I’m not going to do it.

Cold-calling a prospect

☐ A) Been there, done that – no big deal.

☐ B) I feel nervous, sick to my stomach, but I do it.

☐ C) I feel nervous but I’ve got it under control.

☐ D) I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it and I’m not going to do it.

Talking to a known prospect on the phone for the purpose of upselling

☐ A) Been there, done that – no big deal.

☐ B) I feel nervous, sick to my stomach, but I do it.

☐ C) I feel nervous but I’ve got it under control.

☐ D) I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it and I’m not going to do it.

Here’s what you should do and what you should not do to minimize your fear.

#1 Do not read, word-for-word your presentation. Refer to key talking points using an outline.

#2 If you are using PowerPoint, do not look at your slides. In other words, don’t talk to your slides. Instead, face your audience and talk directly to them. Again, talk from an outline

#3 If you want to create more anxiety and raise your fear level, tell a joke at the beginning. Chances are, you’ll be so anxious that the joke will fall flat. No canned jokes, please.

#4 Keep your phone calls brief and definitely work from a script.

Even though email marketing is an effective way to deliver your sales message, you want to think twice about whether you are using email as a way to avoid talking on the phone.

After all, you don’t want to have an anxiety attack in front of potential customers.

 “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown

Here are four more fears of selling. These fears revolve around the business owner’s lack of confidence and feeling they are not persuasive or convincing in a sales situation.

#1 A manifestation of fear of selling is hiding behind jargon, instead of speaking informally. Using jargon make it almost impossible for a customer to relate to you, as a person. Jargon keeps you at a distance from your customer. I was attending a local networking event, and overheard a psychotherapist talking to a lawyer – a potential referrer. The therapist thought the lawyer might have clients with emotional or relationship problems. In this case, the therapist was trolling for referrals. The therapist said to the lawyer, “I do psychotherapy, Gestalt Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and EMDR”. That was a sure-fire way to turn off a potential referrer. This is a great example of how not to be relational. There might be a time, when in a sales situation, you would use some technical talk, especially if you are talking to someone who is in your industry or profession.

#2 Asking prospective customers if they want to meet rather than suggesting a specific time to meet. When people feel insecure about themselves in a sales situation, they do not want to irritate or turn off a prospective customer. So, they ‘play it safe’ and ask.

#3 Convincing a skeptical prospect of the value of your service or product. You are not a door-to-door salesperson selling vacuum cleaners. Don’t laugh, some people feel they are going door-to-door selling. You are selling value and solutions based on your professional expertise. If you stick with the tried and true sales approach of discussing the benefits of your product or service, you won’t feel like a vacuum cleaner salesperson.

#4 Knowing when to end the discussion. When it comes to closing the sale or terminating a conversation, you want to ‘land the plane smoothly’. Why is landing the plane so difficult for some people? Why do competent people get flustered? Some people hesitate landing the plane due to their fear of rejection. Landing the plane requires you to be open, honest, and direct with the other person. You might balk at having to plan and even rehearse your landing statements. What happens if during the landing process, you experience the dreaded awkward silence? It’s perfectly okay to wait a few seconds without conversation. This is a good time for you to take a deep breath and remember your landing script.

Here are five examples of how and how not to land the plane.

Wimpy Way                                                  Direct Way

Can I call you?                                                When can I call you?

Do you have a business card?               I’d like one of your business cards

Can I have your email address?
            What’s your email address?

Maybe we should have lunch?              When, at your convenience can we have lunch?

Can I be a Contact in LinkedIn?           I’ll make contact with you on LinkedIn


These suggestions might seem simplistic and common sense. But in a sales situation, with your fears and anxieties out of control, you can remind yourself that you have tools to cope.

Fear of Fees

“Fears are nothing more than a state of mind.” Napoleon Hill

Over the years, I’ve talked to small business owners, lawyers, psychotherapists, physicians, accountants, and other professional and personal service providers. When I ask them how they feel about having a direct discussion about their fees, I hear:

  • “After being in practice for many years, I’m still uncomfortable bringing up the subject of fees”
  • “I wish someone else would do it for me”
  • “I try to avoid it as much as possible”
  • “It’s always an awkward conversation”
  • “I don’t feel I’m worth it to charge this much”

 I was coaching a young woman, Natalie, who recently graduated with a doctoral degree in physical therapy. She wanted to open a private practice but questioned her ability to ‘sell herself’. She was filled with self-doubt. One of several goals of coaching was for Natalie to confront her doubts about selling. We made a list of her self-doubts regarding selling. We addressed these self-doubts by replacing each negative message with a positive one.

Negative messageReplaced with Positive Message
I have no confidence in my ability to sellI’m really good at building relationships. I can leverage that skill to promote my practice.
I don’t know where to start when it comes to selling my servicesI don’t need to know everything about selling. I can ask a friend for help.
I am more comfortable talking about physical therapy than selling myselfI bring a lot of passion to what I do. I’ll communicate this to engage potential patients.

Two years after Natalie finished coaching with me, I sent her an email and asked her how things were going. She said she opened a physical therapy practice with a colleague from graduate school. She was treating patients and loving it.

What about you? Look at the questions below and answer YES or No for each question. If you answered YES to any of the questions, ask yourself what negative messages you have about money and suggest a positive message to replace the negative one.

  • Do you feel that you do not have enough experience to justify your fee?
  • Do you ask your customers if they think your fees are reasonable?
  • Are you afraid you are not charging enough?
  • If you state your fee, are you afraid the customer will say no?
  • If a customer balks at your fee, do you drop the price?
  • Are you afraid you are charging too much?

Believing in yourself, and your competence will help you overcome your fear of selling. This won’t happen overnight, but keep on reminding yourself of your positive message.

Let’s take a deeper look at the topic of fear of discussing fees. The discussion of fees would not be complete without talking about money.

“Nearly all of the 2014 Stress in America survey respondents (95 percent) said parents should talk to their kids about money. But only 64 percent said they themselves were taught how to manage money, and just 37 percent said they often talk with their family members about the subject.” Stress in America Survey

Ask yourself:

  • Did my family of origin speak openly and in a healthy way about money and finances?
  • Did my family of origin openly and fearfully discuss money or finances?
  • Did my family avoid any discussion about money?

Money avoidance: Believing that money is bad or that you do not deserve money. For people with this personality, money can evoke feelings of fear, anxiety, or disgust. Low-income, younger, and single individuals were more likely to hold this attitude. Brad Klontz

One of my clients told me that, as a child, her parents were hesitant to discuss money. In fact, they did not discuss money at all. As an adult, my client started two businesses. Both businesses were bankrupt within two years. My client blamed her failure on her inability to handle money. After her businesses failed, she confronted her parents about the money issue. Her father said he was afraid that giving his children too much information would have a negative impact on their adult life by diminishing their child’s goal or values. You can see why this client was fearful.

What are some of the manifestations of fear of discussing fees?

You have probably encountered a potential customer/client who, the first thing off the bat says, “How much do you charge?” or “What’s your fee?” In the rush to make the sale, you tell the other person exactly what they are looking for –a price. This person gets what he/she is looking for and most of the time will terminate the discussion. I affectionately refer to these people as ‘price shoppers’.

If you have fear of fees, here’s a way to slow down your thinking, so you can focus. Initially, do not state your fee. Do not say ‘”how can I help you?” (The response to “How can I help you” sets up an unrealistic expectation that you will help this person). Also, do not launch into your elevator speech. Eventually, you’ll want to discuss fees. Instead, ask a few benign questions such as:

  • What are you looking for?
  • Have you talked to others in the same business?
  • Have you ever purchased services (or products) like mine?

If you are unable to redirect the conversation back to the other person’s needs, then quickly land the plane by simply stating your fee (or a range of fees) and ending the conversation. Some business owners make one more attempt to turn the conversation back to the customer. If this doesn’t work, say, “goodbye and good luck!

When I first started out as a freelance marketing consultant, my only reference point for how much to charge was based on my experience at a large consulting firm. I could not charge anywhere near what they charged. I ruminated over whether I should charge an hourly fee or one fee for the entire project. I had no idea of what those fees would be. I realized I was anxious about talking about fees. I’d rather not talk about fees.

No one in my family would talk about money. No one would talk about the family budget. I never knew if my parents were or were not in debt. I had no idea of what things cost and how to budget. I tried to focus on the positives. I knew I had all the credentials and experience that potential clients wanted. I then knew I could face my fears and discuss fees with my clients.  Remembering that my family never discussed money helped me realize why this was hard for me. It took awhile for me to come to grips with this fear.

Now that you’ve examined your fear of selling and fear of fees, here are four tips you can use to minimize the impact of your fears.

#1 State your fee and shut up. Don’t justify your fee or over-talk. Let the customer respond. Keep this discussion as short as possible.

#2 Stick to your guns. Do not sell yourself short by dropping your fee. In a moment of panic and in desperation to make the sale, all sorts of thoughts are racing through your mind. You know how much time, energy, and money it took to bring your product or service to market. Leave no room for negotiation.

#3 Take a sales training course. Sometimes, I recommend that my clients attend a short sales training course. I’m not referring to 2-hour sales training seminars designed to lure you into purchasing a costly training package. In fact, I have some reservations about sales training courses. First, most of what is taught is common sense, just neatly packaged in a step-by-step methodology. Some sales training courses focus on the techniques used by the course leader. These leaders tend to be somewhat charismatic and the focus is on the leader, not you. Second, many sales training courses use their own jargon, which might be off-putting to you. Third, unless specifically tailored to your profession or business, general sales training courses might not offer specific industry-related insight or buyer behavior patterns. Fourth, some sales training courses offer a plethora of tips, tactics, and ideas. This might be the case of too much information. If you do want to take a sales training course, I recommend you consult your professional or business association. See what they have to offer. Weigh the time, cost, and energy you spend on taking a course against the benefits you might get. See what happens.

#4 Get a mentor or a coach. Mentors are individuals who are willing to assist you at no cost. Mentors tend to be senior executives or retirees. Many communities around the country have mentoring programs sponsored by local business councils. Coaches charge you by the hour. Whichever you choose, getting a mentor or coach is probably the best way to get a handle on how to discuss fees. It’s been my experience the best mentors are those in businesses not related to yours. Even though they do not have your industry-specific information and experience, they do know how to do the most important thing you need: discussing fees and closing deals. You’ll get a fresh perspective on selling. Caveat: Look online and you’ll see many organizations that offer coaching certification. Before you hire a coach, check out his or her certification. Does the credential seem credible? Will the coach let you talk to current or former clients?

Now you have tips and tactics to use so you won’t be selling yourself short.