Stepping out of your comfort zone is always tough. Your brain starts screaming “Don’t do it. You might fail—or worse, make a fool of yourself.” Then it releases a good dose of cortisol, a stress hormone that makes you want to escape from the awkward, fear-inducing situation you’re in.
The truth is that’s how our bodies are wired. But, if we want to get better at our jobs, we must continually battle this natural tendency toward fight or flight. On the positive side, things do get easier over time. It’s like we have a sales grit muscle, and the more we use it, the stronger it becomes.
I’ll never forget one of my first acts of sales bravado. In cold calling, I’d uncovered a really good prospect for purchasing a new copier. I’d analyzed their needs, given a demo and finally come in with my proposal. Dan, the store manager and also my prospect, said it all looked good but that he still didn’t have corporate approval, so I left feeling really dejected.
After sitting in my car for a few minutes, I decided I couldn’t leave without the order. So I marched back into the building and told the receptionist that I needed to see Dan again. When he came out, I said, “Dan. I’ve been thinking. You know you want to go ahead with this. How about we get the contract signed right now, and I’ll hold it ‘til you get the big okay. That way, I can expedite the order as soon as it comes in. If it doesn’t, I’ll tear it up.” Inside, I was shaking, but outside, I looked calm, cool and collected.
You know how he responded? “Sure. Great idea.” I was shocked. I thought I’d get kicked out. I never, in my wildest imagination, thought that it would actually work. But it did, and I learned a lot.
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know how things might have turned out. Also, how you ask makes a huge difference. I wasn’t tentative but came across as confident and competent.