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Overcoming Sales F.E.A.R.

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Inc.com recently published an article online entitled, "Are You Sales Phobic?". I was thinking about this article in the context of one of my recent blog postings, "Conquering F.E.A.R." This topic of fear as it relates to business is close to me, because I have to admit that although I'm an entrepreneur, I'm not a salesperson at heart. In fact, for many years I shunned sales jobs, because I disdained the image of one of those slick, overbearing salespeople, who "force" themselves on people with gadgets or services that they probably didn't want or need. That wasn't who I was or who I wanted to be known as.

What I eventually learned is that I had the wrong perspective about sales... and maybe you do too. Even when I first started my consulting and training business, I was naive and didn't fully embrace the fact that entrepreneurs are really salespeople (and if they don't think they are, they won't be in business for very long). I was hoping that all of the relationships that I had developed while I was working in my corporate job would come chasing after me once they found out I was a "free agent". To my dismay and disappointment, that didn't happen. I soon realized that I had to... ugh... sell to them.

Until recently I had not associated my aversion to sales as fear. One reason is because fear can look very subtle in sales. For example, fear could be displayed as apprehension, avoidance, procrastination, self-sabotage, lack of confidence, or indecisiveness. Personally, whenever I was in a situation where I felt the pressure to sell something, all of a sudden I become tense, robotic, anxious, and unsure of myself. This was in total contrast to my typical personality. I naturally enjoyed engaging with people and I didn't have a problem striking up conversations with complete strangers. I realized something had to change if I was going to be successful as an entrepreneur.

Then one day I was at a leadership conference and I heard one of the speakers give his definition of sales. He said that sales is simply offering something to someone that they need. This simple yet profound statement impacted me unlike any sales seminar or book that I had experienced prior to that. My overall perspective, attitude, and approach to customers was totally changed after that. I realized that sales was not about me trying to convince my customers to buy something that I had to sell. It is about me offering something of value to them that they need - even if they don't realize yet that they need it.

Even with this new understanding, I still had to work to get over my fear of sales. I also had to get comfortable with who I was as a salesperson and how to sell most effectively. One way to help cope with the fear of selling is to discover your sales style, because everyone doesn't do sales the same way.

According to Ray Silverstein, there are three basic categories of salespeople, Finders, Minders, and Grinders (click here to read article). Regardless of what sales style that you have, the common denominator between each of these styles is the ability to build relationships with customers. The key differentiator between the different sales styles is the time frame of the execution of the sales process.

As I assessed at myself while reading his article, I realized that my personality and style places me mostly into the Minder category. One of my strengths is building and maintaining positive relationships. I'm not quite as strong at getting a lot of sales in short periods of time. This is critical information for me to know, because it helps me to define the type of strategy that I need to employ to build relationships with customers that will grow my business.

Business is all about relationships. If you don't know how to build and maintain relationships, you will fail in business. There are three basic principles which are crucial to you overcoming your fear of selling and growing a successful business or career. You must get your customers to: 1) know you, 2) like you, and 3) trust you. Knowing and practicing these three key principles will enable you to build profitable relationships that will fuel your sales success. Let's take a closer look at these principles.

1) Know you - Your reputation is your personal brand and is the most valuable asset that you have. Your customers will know you by the quality of your character and interaction with them. Developing genuine, authentic connections with your customer will enable you to be known by a positive reputation.

2) Like you - The Bible says that those who want friends must show themselves to be friendly. Are you likable (i.e. personality, character, attitude)? Are you easy to get along with and easy to talk to? You need to demonstrate a genuine concern for your customer's needs. Helping your customer like you as a human being will get you even further as a salesperson.

3) Trust you - Trust can take a long time to establish. The number one thing that you can do to establish trust is to keep your word, because integrity is non-negotiable. Under-promise and over-deliver. Don't give in to the pressure to meet a sales quota at the expense of compromising your relationship with your customer.

Whether you are working for yourself or for a company, when you engage customers you are really selling yourself. Stay true to who you are. Don't try to fit into someone else's vision of a salesperson if that doesn't fit your character or personality. Just because a certain technique works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you too. Also, recognize that everyone is not your customer, because they may not need what you have have to offer. You need to be OK with that.

You are uniquely you. Use your own character traits to your advantage as you build long-term, profitable relationships with current and potential customers. Don't let fear or anything else keep you from positively impacting the people that need what you have to offer!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resource Articles:

"Are You Sales Phobic?" by Allison Stein Wellner http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070301/salesmarketing-psychology.html

"Finder, Minder or Grinder: What's Your Sales Style?" by Ray Silverstein
http://www.entrepreneur.com/sales/salescolumnistraysilverstein/article180900.html

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Empowerment Engagements

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Over the last several months I have been considering different ways, in addition to Biznovations.net, through which I can empower you more effectively. So, it is with great anticipation and excitement that I am officially launching Empowerment Engagements™ Keynote and Workshop Series. Utilizing interactive forums and inspirational environments, I bring fresh perspectives and powerful applications to the areas of leadership, personal empowerment, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility.

Empowerment Engagements have been designed specifically to address the needs and challenges of entrepreneurs and leaders in corporations and non-profits. These motivational, power-packed sessions include:

1) Supplier Diversity Visioneering
  • Profit from the power of inclusion by infusing your Supplier Diversity initiative with innovation and efficiency that will provide greater contributions to your company's operational, financial, and economic development goals. This session can be delivered as part of a Supplier Diversity training or communications initiative. Click here to learn more about innovation in Supplier Diversity.

2) Successful Supply Chain Selling
  • Small businesses accelerate your sales growth by strategically repositioning and leveraging your company's strengths to align with your customer's supply chain needs. This workshop can be delivered as part of a Supplier Diversity small business development training program.

3)
Leadership in HD
  • Empower your team to thrive and your organization to grow by unleashing the diversity, power, flexibility and creativity of entrepreneurial leadership. Click here to learn more about entrepreneurial leadership.

4)
Prospering On Purpose
  • Entrepreneurs flourish in your life mission and calling by developing and launching a passionately purposeful mission driven business. Click here to learn more about mission driven entrepreneurship.

If you would like to schedule one of these Empowerment Engagements for your company, non-profit, church, school, or youth group, please contact me at empowerment@biznovations.net.

I am very excited about these new opportunities to help you maximize your potential and have a greater impact in your spheres of influence. I look forward to engaging with you.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Conquering F.E.A.R.

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The pace of life and business seems to be steadily increasing. With this increased pace, making positive decisions becomes more challenging, because there is less time to process critical information needed to make those decisions. Fortunately, God foresaw this, creating within our bodies an intricate rapid response system that we utilize to make quick decisions on the fly.

Our bodies are equipped with a mechanism called adrenal glands, which control our "fight or flight" reactions when we encounter threatening situations. Most times these decisions are made in fractions of a second. In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell provides an interesting perspective on our ability and propensity to make split second decisions. His premise is that we constantly make instantaneous decisions based on a two second first impression of a situation. He explains that this ability to make quick decisions works to our advantage in some situations, and to our disadvantage in others.

While our adrenal glands are quite effective in helping us determine instantaneously whether to fight or flee, they are not quite as useful when it comes to situations when we are given a space of time to make a decision. The negative impact of this is that people have a tendency to make more "flight" decisions when immediacy is not required. It seems that the more time that people have to ponder their situations, the more time they spend focusing on the downside risks rather than the upside potential.

The reality is that running a business or simply living life is all about effectively managing risks. An essential part of managing risks is taking them when necessary. However, if you are unwilling to take any risks, your business or your life will not flourish like it could. There is one main culprit that can be blamed for people's aversion to risk and assertive decision making. Fear.

Fear paralyzes people and constrains their decision making process considerably. Fear can even keep people from taking low impact risks. Whether it be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of other people’s opinions, or fear of the unknown, this is a powerful emotion that can sap the courage out of the strongest people. Regardless, fear can be conquered no matter how intimidating a situation may be.

People who achieve great things in life and business have learned how to conquer their fears. You must learn how to do the same if you are going to have significant accomplishments in your life or business.

Here are some practical steps that you can engage during those situations when you are tempted to give in to your fears. Continually practicing these steps will also help you to make better decisions in shorter amounts of time.

Focus on your vision:
  • Keep your thoughts aimed at your dream with a laser like intensity.
  • Don't be distracted by things that don't align with your vision.
  • Focusing on your future can provide you the motivation to move past your fear (Imagine what will happen to your vision if you don't move past your fear).

Evaluate the obstacle(s):
  • Assess whether your obstacles are real or perceived. Sometimes what we consider an obstacle is nothing more than a menial distraction.
  • Determine what you have control over - including your attitude - and what you don't. Quit worrying about things you can't control.
  • Seek wise counsel from those who have faced similar obstacles, so that you can determine whether to attack it or ignore it.

Attack the enemy that's “in-a-me”:
  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. Your fight is often internal (i.e. thoughts, emotions, and desires) before it becomes external.
  • Recognize that you have the potential to do great things. If you don’t believe that you can win your fight, then typically you won’t.
  • Forget your past mistakes and don’t allow negative memories to poison your perspective.

Respond to the challenge:
  • Courage is not the absence of fear, instead it’s recognizing your fear and engaging in the battle in spite of it. You may even be fueled by it.
  • Learn from your previous victories and use them as stepping stones to move ahead.
  • If you’re going to fail, at least do it moving forward. Rarely have I seen a fight won by a person who was running away.

A key point to remember is that just because you are able to make quick decisions, doesn't mean they are always the best decisions. The more you practice practical decision making in situations where you are challenged by fear, the better your decision making will be when it needs to be instantaneous.

Pursue your dreams with persistence, patience, perseverance, and passion. Face your fears confidently and assertively. Don’t let anyone or anything, especially fear, stop you from accomplishing all of which you are capable.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Mission Driven Entrepreneurship

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In the past few years social entrepreneurship has been getting a lot of attention as an innovative method to help alleviate certain social ills, including poverty, homelessness, lack of education and illiteracy, sub-standard health care, environmental issues, and starvation and malnutrition, among other things. In the future, even more attention is sure to be focused on this area, because the founder of a very successful for-profit social enterprise won a Nobel Prize in 2006.

I agree that social entrepreneurship can be used strategically to help alleviate some of society's most challenging issues. I also believe there is another kind of entrepreneurship that can have an even greater impact on society, including those who practice it. I call this mission driven entrepreneurship.

I understand that most if not all businesses have a mission statement. However, that's not the kind of mission that I'm talking about here. I'm referring to a person's life mission or calling. Another way to say it is the unique assignment that God gives to every person before they are even born. Accordingly, I define a mission driven entrepreneur as one who pursues and fulfills their life mission through the operation of an enterprise that seeks to maximize profits and positively impact social issues.

One key characteristic of a mission driven entrepreneur is their understanding that having passion for a particular issue is necessary, but it's not enough by itself to make a venture successful. Many people start businesses in areas that they are passionate about, but they fail, because they don't understand or execute critical business fundamentals. These entrepreneurs understand that their passion for an issue should align with their life mission, and be able to be incorporated into a business model that is viable in the marketplace.

A second characteristic of mission driven entrepreneurs is their realization that just having excellent business skills is not enough either. Mission driven entrepreneurs attack social issues holistically, utilizing a complex blend of business savvy, practicality, creativity, innovation, passion, compassion, patience, and money. They are big picture thinkers, but can also engineer efficient solutions that bring measurable results. They are consumed by the purpose of their work, because their work fits within the context of their life purpose and mission.

Another key characteristic of mission driven entrepreneurs is their focus on profitability. Although, a mission driven entrepreneur could start a non-profit, a growing number of them focus on developing for-profit enterprises. These entrepreneurs strategically grow their businesses to make a lot of money, but not for that sole purpose. Their goal in producing great amounts of wealth is to have the resources to make a more significant impact on the social issues within their spheres of interest and influence.

I am a perfect example of this concept with the consulting and training company that I founded, Wilson Innovation Alliance. One of our strategic objectives is to improve the economic conditions in under-privileged communities. We partner with community agencies, business organizations, and corporations to train people on how to start and grow successful mission driven enterprises.

Our short-term goal is to empower people by helping them to develop profitable ventures that can benefit them and their families. Our long-term goal is to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to create more jobs in those communities that lead to greater levels of economic and social empowerment. With the the right amount of resources, strategies, innovation, and commitment, I believe that mission driven entrepreneurial concepts can be used in impoverished communities throughout the U.S. and around the world. The result will be people who are enabled and equipped to improve their living conditions and reach their potential. (Read my profile to learn more about my life mission).

Many people spend their entire lives chasing after their purpose, and never realize it was within them all along. Others spend an inordinate amount of time and energy chasing money and achievement, but never find fulfillment. Mission driven entrepreneurship allows for the healthy pursuit of both with the understanding that money is simply a means to an end, not the end in itself. If you're going to be an entrepreneur, do it in a way that brings fulfillment to you and positive benefits to others. Become a mission driven entrepreneur!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resources:

1) Read this article to learn more about social entrepreneurship.

2) Go to FastCompany.com to find a list of successful social enterprises, many of which were founded by mission driven entrepreneurs.

3) For those who are pursuing faith-based ventures that impact your local community, check out this web site: http://www.sba.gov/fbci/.

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