Do You Fear Talking to Prospects?
As regular networkers, we see a lot of people week in, week out. Some we have seen as always confident, though others not so confident. In fact some, Steve included, who did originally fear talking, have been seen to grow in confidence week by week, through networking alone (it’s a fabulous tool for self-confidence alone, never mind business growth!).
The Fear Factor
You might be surprised to learn that lots of business people fear talking to prospects. Self-confidence might be the obvious reason, but there are actually many reasons why people fear talking, including (but most certainly not limited to):
- Risk of Rejection – several reasons why you may feel rejected, though this is predominant in the sales role
- Self-criticism – “Am I worthy”, “I can’t do this” etc
- Uncertainty as to what to say – unsure how to open or join a conversation
- Shyness – fear of stepping into the limelight, even momentarily
- Fear of what others will think – don’t want to be perceived as showing off
- Lack of confidence in the product – speaks for itself
- Uncomfortable talking about money – when money is an issue (i.e. cost / price), this can put the fear of God into some!
Do any of these symptoms ring a bell, either first hand or from how you have seen others in such circumstances? I dare say many of you will recognise at least two or three of the above and even if you’ve not experienced them, you can probably understand now how some people fear talking to others!
Put Fear to the Sword
Whether looking to overcome one or some of these fears yourself or, indeed, if you’re looking for ways to assist others, here are some tips:
- Put yourself about – go networking, visit conferences, attend events and seminars. Basically, the best way to overcome the fear is to grab the bull by the horns and step outside your comfort zone. The more you do, the easier it becomes. Sure, first time is hard, but go and you might just find you enjoy it. The second time is easier, third easier etc etc and when visiting the same group, you’ll soon make new acquaintances and find people want to talk to you – you become the attraction! You’ll soon see other newbies attending who fear talking and, having been there yourself, will be able to help them. Plus you’ll also be surprised how many people attend numerous groups, so you may be invited to another event. If you are, go, as you’ll also have a known contact there in the inviter, making stepping into that room easier too!
- Aim for someone you know – if you enter a room full of people you largely don’t know, it can help if you can find someone you do. Aim for those people first. You’ll be amazed how often you start talking to them and others join in. Before you know it, you’ve not spoken to your friend for 10 minutes and have instead spoken to 5 others you didn’t know previously!
- Know your product – if you can demonstrate a thorough knowledge of your product and the benefits others can gain from its use, that breeds confidence in others. Again, you will find that others take to you and even if not required for themselves, they will refer you to others with confidence
- Ask for referrals – Often people struggle to actually ask for referrals, but in business, this is vital. Face-to-face networking, LinkedIn, social media – any channel works. In fact, when you make a sale, why not follow it up a few days later with a quick email, asking if they know anybody else who might benefit from your product. They can only say no!
- Prepare a script and practice, practice, practice – Think up some ice-breakers, whether general ones or regarding current hot topics. If you know you’re going to bump into someone in particular, what do you know about them – what sporting team do they support, do they have family, pets, an interesting hobby? If you can strike up a conversation, people have to come to you and not the other way around
- Keep good company – this might sound strange, but trust me, if you keep to positive, prospective, energetic groups who discuss success, this will rub off. Avoid whingers, moaners and blamers, as they will cast a shadow and turn the mood sour. You want to appear active, successful, keen, all associated with positivity, not negativity
- Use social media – this isn’t just a great tool for getting you known (which helps anyway – you’d be amazed how many people have come up to me and said “I recognise you from LinkedIn”), but also for building your own confidence as you can talk from behind a computer screen
- Remain focused on your goals – remember why you’re talking to prospects. Set yourself targets (but only if targets motivate you – they don’t motivate everybody), think of other ways to achieve them
Actively doing at least two or three of the above will soon pay dividends. Remember, the first time doing anything is always the hardest and it always gets easier with repetition. Don’t fear talking, embrace it, and you’ll be amazed how quickly you find your voice!
If you are one of those (or know of someone) who dreads the thought of talking to prospects, one thing’s for sure, you’ll (they’ll) not be alone. However, take it from me, if Steve can overcome his fear of public speaking (we can’t shut him up now!!!), anyone can. I hope these tips help. Good luck!