Today’s post is by Lynn Mandinec, Business Manager at Ryan Estis & Associates. Lynn and Ryan have worked together for more than 20 years, and she works closely with REA clients to design the right program and curriculum to deliver high-impact event and training experiences.
It was my first day at my new job in outside sales. While I’d worked in inside sales for several years, I had never made a cold call or presented for my company before. Ryan Estis and I went to a major trade show together, and he pointed me toward Northwest Airlines’ booth and told me to go pitch them.
A little perspective: Northwest Airlines was the biggest employer in the state of Minnesota. They were the definition of a “big fish” prospect. And I was terrified.
But, Ryan pushed me in their direction and told me I could do it. As I looked over at the booth, I knew that I had two options: run to the bathroom and cry…or go for it. Because I was determined to succeed, I chose the latter. I walked over, introduced myself to them, asked who was in charge and who I could talk to, and a few minutes later I had a business card.
I had put up a huge mountain for myself, but the actual experience wasn’t that bad. The worst they could have said to me was “sorry, this isn’t a good time.” I realized that the anticipation is usually worse than the actual experience — but, when we’re afraid, uncomfortable or out of our comfort zone, it’s usually a good sign that a big growth moment is coming. For me, there was a major opportunity waiting right on the edge of my comfort zone, and training myself to return to that place accelerated my personal growth and learning.
My mini success with NWA set the stage for my entrance into cold-calling and business development and all of the harder parts of sales.The fact that I had to step far out of my comfort zone on Day 1 was a positive, defining experience for me.
My self-doubt never completely went away, but I was able to manage it over time. Every new success made the next big step seem not as scary or as big. Case in point: five years after that trade show, Ryan asked me to call a decision-maker at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic was a huge potential client for us. He handed me the business card, and I took a deep breath and got to work. I made a pre-call plan and prepared answers to every possible question that could come my way. Every time I called the prospect, I had my notes ready. One day she actually picked up the phone, and the call was 40 minutes long. She grilled me and pre-qualified me. And we won the business. Ryan and I have worked with Mayo Clinic for 15 years since then. But, if I hadn’t gone after Northwest Airlines on my first day, I never would have made the call or closed the deal.
My experiences overcoming my fears and self-doubts have taught me how to overcome the voice in my head that says “this is too hard” and “you can’t do this.”
6 Keys to Overcoming Internal Resistance
- Take the first step. Just by doing something new, you gain the skills to overcome your fears. Anything in life that is extremely rewarding is going to come with a few seconds of trepidation. Push yourself through those first 30 nerve-wracking seconds to get to the exciting, positive outcome.
- Turn pressure and expectations into motivation. Whether you’re feeling pressure from your boss, your co-workers, or yourself, turn those expectations into motivation. Turn the pressure into a positive and push forward toward success.
- Eliminate fear by being prepared. Arm yourself with information. Think through every potential question that could come up and how you would answer each one. If you’ve prepared yourself for the challenge you’re facing, you have no reason to be worried.
- Take every rejection in stride. Throughout my career in sales, I’ve chosen to see every “no” as a step on my way to success. From very early on, if someone said no or even hung up on me, I just saw it as being that much closer to a yes. I always believed those prospects didn’t understand yet what I could offer them, and it was my job as an ambassador for my company to help them see that value.
- Surround yourself with positive, successful people. One of my keys for finding success in sales was working with helpful, competitive colleagues who motivated me. For example, Ryan and I used to have Friday cold call competitions. We’d compete for the most positive call outcomes. Those friendly contests motivated both of us.
- Celebrate your successes. I posted all of my successes on my office wall. Every time I made a high-pressure call or reached out to a new prospect, I would look at all of the big names who had said yes and I’d use that as motivation. With every success, I gained new confidence.
Take the first step. Reach out to a big prospect. Pick up the phone. Take the leap of faith. Go forward without self-doubt. What’s the worst that can happen?
Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.