What’s the one thing you aren’t doing that you know you need to do? What’s the one thing that frightens you so much that you create excuses to avoid having to do? We all have some task that intimidates and frightens us, that one responsibility that we really ought to be doing, but we just can’t bring ourselves to face it. Overcoming fear in sales can be a struggle for many.

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl speaks with the dynamic, influential, and all-around legendary Shari Levitin about courage. Darryl and Shari go in-depth on the topic of courage, sharing stories, and tips on how simply changing your mindset can help you to improve your fearlessness. Learn how to overcome your fears through the power of courage on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!







Host: Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Shari Levitin, Shari Levitin Group


Overcoming Fear in Sales with Courage

Darryl Praill: Oh my goodness! It’s another week, we’re here, we’re back. It’s been a busy week, I was in production hell all last week. Now you’re sitting there going, “Darryl, I wish I was in production hell.” Do you know how many times I dialed the phone, how many emails sent, and how many times I tried to reach other people on LinkedIn and be nice and tell them all the wonderful things about them and why they should care about me.” Shut up already about your production hell. “You’re sitting there, you’re a talking head, “you talk into a microphone. “Whatever, nobody cares.”

Darryl Praill: You know what? You’re right. You’re 100% right. Your job is harder in that regard and I applaud you for it, which is why we have this little chat every single week. But, but my friends, that does not mean that my job is without stress, just like your job. And, I’ll give you some examples cause I have, I get this a lot, which is interesting alright, so I’ll draw, I’ll tell the story and then I’ll draw some corollaries for you.

Darryl Praill: So I get people all the time, where I talk to them about maybe building a personal brand, or getting out there more, making more of a name for themselves, establishing their street cred more. All the usual stuff that, you know, they just gotta, they gotta be visible, right? And that could be video, that could be audio, that can be content, that could public speaking, but the whole point is, if you want to be taken credible, you’ve gotta be a thought leader, you don’t need to be a best selling author like we seem to have a lot on the INSIDE Inside Sales show, cause by the way I’m not.

Darryl Praill: You don’t need to be Tony Robbins, you don’t need to be, you know, a celebrity. You just need to be kick-ass at what you do. And when I say this to people, this is my number one thing I get all the time from them, they’re like, “Yeah but Darryl, I’m not you. “And it’s so easy for you and I’m not you. “I have no desire, I don’t wanna do that, “it’s not how I’m wired. “You know I’m just really good at what I do “and I just wanna do what I do. “I don’t wanna do that, I don’t wanna do that.”

Darryl Praill: Which is not unlike, you know somebody who, say, maybe my age, getting a new sales job and saying, “I don’t wanna do social media because, you know, “it’s just not what I do. “I’m really good at other stuff, “I just don’t wanna do that.” Or someone who’s really young saying, “I don’t wanna do the phone, who needs the phone? “No one uses the phone anymore.” You see what I’m getting at?

Darryl Praill: We all have our own excuses, and that’s what they are, they’re excuses. They literally are excuses, we’ve talked about this before. I want you to stop and think for a second, and if I were to ask you, this is just you and I here right now, no one else is listening. If I were to ask you, “What’s the number one thing “that you’re making an excuse for? You know you need to do, “you know you need to do, but you’re making an excuse.” Okay that thought, cause I know you had one, I know you had one, I know you had one! That thought, we need to overcome. I gotta table that for a second, overcoming.

Darryl Praill: For me, I tell people, “Dude, you think it’s easy for me? “I got news for you.” The first time I got on stage, the first time I started doing video, or the first time I got on radio, or whatever, it was stressful, and guess what? The second time, it was stressful. Third time, stressful. You know, by the 42 millionth time it was a little less stressful, but even now, you know, I will go and I’ll have conversations with people whom I respect and revere, who I’m as much of a fanboy as you are, we may often travel in the same circles, speak at the same events, but I’m a fanboy.

Darryl Praill: You know, if I had the little autograph book, I’d be walking up to them saying, “Oh! Please sign my autograph book!” That’d be me, that’d be me. And, I might work with them, when I know I’m gonna meet them for the first time, or maybe I’m meeting them on like, a webinar or a podcast for the first time, I get butterflies, I am freaked out. But, I know, here’s the thing, I know I have a job to do and I am paid well to show up and do what I do. You know, generate noise, generate leads, generate demands, generate sales, whatever it may be, that’s what I’m paid to do, and so I have to do it.

Darryl Praill: So I talked about, you know let’s table that for a second, that part where you were scared, right? You were uncertain, you were reticent. You knew what you needed to do but you didn’t want to do it. Well, you know what that involves? It involves the exact same thing that happens when I get on stage sometimes, and that is courage. Courage, guys. It’s not a matter of fear, well I mean courage overcomes fear, but it’s not a matter of that you shouldn’t do it. It’s not a matter of you don’t know you should it. It’s a matter of overcoming, you know, overcoming that fear with courage.

Darryl Praill: So now, how does that play out? Is it a speaking event? Is it you making a dial when you don’t want to use the phone? Or you posting on social media when you’re not comfortable with social media? Absolutely, all of the above. It all starts with courage, and then it just permeates the entire sales cycle.

Darryl Praill: What do you say when someone answers that phone for the first time on a prospecting call when you’re brand new to the company? What do you do? Do you stammer? Do you stumble? Or do you buck up, put your courage forth, and say, “I got this.”? What do you do when you know the prospects hungry and they’re gonna string you out as long as you want to? But you gotta go for the close now, you gotta interrupt that flow, possibly affect the relationship. It takes courage.

Welcome Shari Levitin

Darryl Praill: So today, I wanted to just talk about something we’ve never talked about before. I mean, we’ve talked about it in bits and pieces, but I’ve never explicitly talked about courage. What is courage? What are the components of courage? Where do you need to apply courage, and how do you apply that courage in a structured format, a structured way? So, I said to myself, “Praill, who’s the best person for this?” And I said, “Well, clearly we know, it’s Shari Levitin.” Have you met Shari? She’s, oh my gosh, if you’ve not met Shari, you know, this is my description of her, I hope that she doesn’t yell at me. She is a spitfire. She is a ball of energy. She just goes, goes, goes, goes, goes.

Darryl Praill: She’s always moving, and she like, these pearls of wisdom come out of her mouth nonstop. I sit back as somebody who’s off to myself, and I wanna be her when I grow up. So, I said, “Shari, you should come on the show.” Now, Shari’s the author of “Heart and Sell,” not to be confused with heart and soul, but I think it may be intentional. “Heart and Sell”, two universal truths every salesperson needs to know, and we’re gonna talk about that today. You can meet her at sharilevitin.com, she’s on Twitter, she’s on LinkedIn. Great YouTube channel under Levitin Group.

Darryl Praill: Check it all out if you’re sitting at your desk when you’re listening to this, if you’re in, you’re driving, you’re working out listening to this. All good because, you know what? I’m gonna shut up. Shari, welcome to the show.

Shari Levitin: Thank you so much Darryl, and I’m sorry you’ve been in production hell

Darryl Praill: Yes.

Shari Levitin: And hopefully we’re gonna get everybody out of sales hell today, if anybody’s in sales hell.

Darryl Praill: It is in sales hell. Now, and we don’t wanna be in sales hell, unless the sales hell is us just having too many deals to close, in which case, you know, it’s something that we’ll all endure, I’m sure. One of the things I wanted to hit you up on specifically, as it relates to this, Shari, was in your book, you talked about the lion in “The Wizard of Oz” and I thought that would be a great way to open up today’s conversation. And so let me set the stage. What can we learn from the lion in “The Wizard of Oz”?

Shari Levitin: Well, if you remember, now I, “Wizard of Oz” was probably my favorite thing to watch every single year as a kid, and my favorite character was the lion, and I may be bringing some of you way back, but the lion was traveling far and along the yellow brick road because he wanted what? C-c-c-courage. And he thought that he needed to go somewhere in order to get this c-c-c-courage, and of course, he traveled all the way to the Emerald City, he met the Great Oz, and he thought Oz would give him this courage, and of course, then the curtain fell away, only to reveal a funny little man behind a curtain, moving levers.

Shari Levitin: So, the wizard couldn’t give the lion courage, any more than anyone else can give us courage. We have to earn it, and the way we earn courage is by taking action. “Action cures fear.” Mark Twain said that, and what I also love is if you look at the root word of courage, the C-O-U-R, it stems from the word heart. Now my books is “Heart and Sell” and I truly believe that we have to balance heart and authenticity, empathy with courage, or the need to roll up our sleeves, and make the sale. But when we understand that the root word, heart is in the word courage, we realize that if we care about our products, if we care about our customers enough, and if we care enough about making our customers lives better, then we can find, we can muster up the courage to ask the difficult questions, to isolate the objections, to call the difficult prospects, and ultimately make the sale.

Darryl Praill: Alright, so I opened up in my opening spiel, talking about how many people know that there’s something that they’re avoiding, they don’t wanna do it. It either scares them, scares them away so they’ll do everything but that, and many of us don’t wanna own it, but what kind of, I guess, does owning it play a factor in our ability to muster courage or not? Let me just throw that out there. You tell me.

Shari Levitin: Well, absolutely. I mean it all starts with the mindset, right? And changing your relationship to your fear, and that all begins with owning it. I’m gonna tell you one word that’ll change your life. I happened to have a great mentor, and when I wasn’t hitting my numbers, he said, “Shari, if you change the pronoun, you’ll change your life.” I said, “Well what do you mean, change the pronoun? “What’s the pronoun?”

Shari Levitin: He says, “Well, whenever you don’t make a deal, “you say things like, ‘They couldn’t afford it, “they needed to think about it.'” He said, “So, what you’re doing is you’re not owning it.” When we blame external factors for our lack of courage or our lack of success, we give up our power. He made me change the pronoun to say, “I didn’t show them the value.” Not, “They couldn’t afford it.” I wasn’t allowed to say, for example, “They needed to think about it.” I had to change the pronoun, and I had to say, “I didn’t create enough urgency.”

Shari Levitin: So, before we can really look at having courage, we have to realize that we own our success, as well as our failures. We can’t take the glory for being great if we won’t take the responsibility when we’re not, you, we, I have the ability to change the trajectory of my life by first taking responsibility, and then having the courage to make the tough calls, the tough decisions, and ask the tough questions.

Darryl Praill: So I’m curious. When you do your sales training, you talk to reps and whatnot. When you have this conversation with them, how well do they generally react to that? Do they, cause I would guess somebody asked the question, is their first reaction just like they were blaming them? They didn’t have the budget, you know, they didn’t have the urgency. Do they blame you? You know, “You don’t understand, “you don’t get me, you don’t know my sales problem.” Or do you find as a whole, reps will willingly accept that critique?

Shari Levitin: The top ones do. That is the mindset of the top sellers I’ve ever met in my life, and they also realize that when somewhere else, someone else, somewhere else, someone else, somewhere else is doing it to us, and as long as we have that attitude, we’re actually losing our power. And, so it’s a matter of getting your power back, and everybody wants power, Darryl, so if we phrase it that way, and I say to you, Look, you want the power, that’s why you’re in sales. You want the power to make as much money as you possibly can. And I gotta tell you, there’s other sellers selling the same thing, and they have the same leads, and they’re making more money than us. So if we start by owning it, that’s the first step to courage.

Darryl Praill: So I guess I would throw this out here for the reps listening, who struggle with this. You know, we can deny it, you can avoid it, you can deflect it. I’m not judging, you know, you be you, but Shari’s point is what do you value more? Do you value that control where you say, “It’s not me, it’s them.” You know, and I’m in control, “and there’s nothing wrong with me.” Or do you value that paycheck and that commission, you know, and that shiny object that you get up for every day to do your job, whether it’s to put food on the table, or buy the next car, or buy that dream house, go on a wonderful vacation.

Darryl Praill: Whatever your motivation is, what do you value more? Cause if you value that shiny object more, then it starts with a little bit of humility, and a little bit, I talk about this as self-awareness. You know, any success I’ve had is because I’ve been self-aware, I’ve been weak. Now, the example I’ll use, and I think I’ve shared this before, is when I did push back, what I was talking about, what Shari’s talking about here and I didn’t accept it. She says, “The top ones accept it.”

Darryl Praill: Well, there’s many a time I wasn’t the top one, and what I ended up having to do to people was I finally had to say to people, “Okay, so you think I do this, “and I don’t think I do, and I think you’re wrong, fine! Next time you see me doing it, you just stop me right there, the middle of a conversation and say, “Boom! You’re doing it.” and you just gotta say those three words, ‘You’re doing it.’, and I’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.

Darryl Praill: And when they’ve done that to me, and also I go, I’m in the moment, I go “Ugh! Oh my gosh! They’re right.” And then I change my behavior. My life got way better, so, don’t view this as you’re giving up your own pride or ego. What you’re doing instead, is you’re investing in yourself to achieve the goals you want. And this is just a growing curve along the way. We’re gonna drill down on how to do this, but we’re gonna take a quick little break, so don’t go anywhere cause when we come back, we’re gonna finish the conversation on mindset, then Shari’s got three tactics to help you approach this. So, don’t go anywhere, we will be right back.

3 Tactics to Gain Courage in Sales

Darryl Praill: Alright so Shari you’ve talked about mindset before on the show, in past episodes, and you know, it’s really a little bit of dealing with your own fears, like, you know, so the example I use is having the right mindset to do cold calling, knowing that there could be rejection, people hanging up on you, arguing, yelling, whatever it might be. Part of this is mindset to take responsibility, to own it, but how do you deal with, I think there is a fear of being rejected, a fear of asking for a close, a fear of responding to an objection without offending the individual. Are there tips and tricks you’ve learned or you could advise on how to have the right mindset?

Shari Levitin: Yeah, one more thing on mindset before,

Darryl Praill: Sure.

Shari Levitin: What I’d like to get into is some tactics on how to actually close sales and have the courage to do that. But, I was told a long time ago, “The call you’re afraid to make, is the call you must make.” The thing you’re afraid to do, and you started off the show with this, Darryl, and I tell people, ake a list of the 10 things, “even the three things, that scare you the most. The big ones, like, “Oh my gosh, if only this happened, then this would happen.” Who are the people that you’re scared to call? The accounts that you’re scared to call on? And do it.

Shari Levitin: Action cures fear, and it also takes creativity. I get really tired of listening to reps, whether they’re SDRs or account executives, say, “Oh, I sent an email, and they didn’t respond.” Or, “I left a voicemail, they didn’t respond.” Really? It’s like, be creative, go around, through, on top of, like, I’ll tell you what. I gotta tell you a story. I got the biggest sale in my life to that point, not by making a call, but by being creative, and sending a pizza. Now, you have to say, “Go own, Shari, I wanna hear that.”

Darryl Praill: Go on Shari, I wanna hear about the pizza story.

Shari Levitin: Well, what I’m trying to say is sometimes you’ve gotta be creative, and if you just say, “I left a phone message, I called.” Think of all the different, if you’ve got that big client that you wanna get in front of, think of all the creative things you could do to get in front of that client. We’ve gotta do what no one else will do. Now video is a great way to do that today. I’m telling you, I try to think of what is the most off the wall, bizarre, creative thing I could do.

Shari Levitin: I had a guy once, named Simon. I knew that he was my ideal client. I knew that he probably wanted to work with me but every time I called his assistant, “He’s in a meeting, he’s in a meeting.” Thinking, “For God’s sake, does Simon ever eat? He’s always in a meeting.” So, finally one day I called, he was in a meeting, it was 11:30 in the morning, and I said to his assistant, I said, “Listen, has Simon eaten lunch?” And she says, “No, why?” I said, “Well what’s the best pizza place in town.”

Shari Levitin: She says, “Polly’s, down the street.” Now, this is back in the day. I said, “Okay, listen what I’m gonna do. “I’m gonna order a pizza for Simon and everybody in the conference,” and then I’m gonna fax–” This was a long time ago. “Fax you a poem, and I want you to put it “on top of the pizza box.” And the poem read, “Is it sunny or is it raining? “It’s always a good time for online training. I know you’re busy, playing businessman and banker, but isn’t it time we set down our anchor? So when you’ve eaten that last pepperoni, pick up the phone, and let’s make some money.” So.

Darryl Praill: So what I love about that, let me share another story about being gorilla. So the actual recruiter who placed me here at VanillaSoft, his names David Perry, he’s a bestselling author, written a series of books called “Gorilla Marketing for Job Hunters.” Every sales rep should read this book. Not to find your job, I mean sure use it that way, but just for the gorilla tactic.

Darryl Praill: So I’ll use an example, one of the tactics he did, he really wanted to get ahold of this executive, this is building off your pizza story, and the executive would never call him, he knew the executive was a good fit for his person looking to fill a role, and so finally what he did was he as he went to this food truck that stopped by the office every single day where the executive worked, and he paid the guy, I don’t 100 bucks, 200 bucks, whatever, he said,

Shari Levitin: So good, so good!

Darryl Praill: “Let me run the truck today.” Exactly, and finally, the executive comes up to get a sandwich,

Shari Levitin: So good.

Darryl Praill: And he says, “Boom! I’ve been trying to get ahold of you.” And he got the deal. Gorilla, you’re thinking outside the box. Alright, you talked about taking, taking the story, our courage, the whole use of it, the mindset, owning it, everything else, and applying it to real-life tactics. So going from the soft ooey-gooey stuff into hardcore, stuff.

Validate Concerns and Emotions

Darryl Praill: So, you mentioned closing, so let’s talk about closing. How does courage apply to closing? What’s the process according to the great, the mighty, Shari Levitin.

Shari Levitin: Well, let me first just say that closing’s something you do through the entire sales conversation, through the whole process, so you’ve gotta be in your discovery, asking those tough questions that take courage, which is the subject of another webinar, but, what a lot of sales reps don’t know how to do, is when it is time to ask for the money, I saw a statistic, 24% of sales reps never even ask for the order, oh my God, that just kills me.

Shari Levitin: But, it takes courage, but it also takes patience. You talked about the emotional intelligence skill of self-awareness, but it takes patience, and it actually takes empathy to close. What do I mean by that? Three things every rep needs to do when they’re actually asking for the money, and it rhymes so we should be able to remember it. We need to validate, change the state, and isolate. So, now, the default behavior for most sales reps, I find, is they’ve got all these scripts, the customer says, “Oh, we’re using another vendor.” Or, “You know, we’ll let you know in Q3.” And I’ll say, “Well, I can understand that “but what is it about the other vendor that you like better than us?”

Shari Levitin: They’ve got this sort of objection handling script, right? Which never works because what we have to understand is that we can’t move somebody to our side of the table unless we’re willing to move to their side of the table.

Shari Levitin: So, when somebody throws out an objection, a concern, the first thing we need to do is really listen. Slow down, count to three, take a deep breath, and by the way, this works when you’re at a party and you’re debating over whether global warming is a hoax or global warming is for real, whether we should have a wall or we shouldn’t have a wall. I mean this is why we’re so polarized as a nation, is because we’re not seeking to understand. Okay, we’re not listening.

Shari Levitin: So the first thing we need to do is validate. That necessitates listening, and then you might wanna say something like, “I can totally appreciate that.” Or even, “Tell me more.” “Oh, you think global warming is a hoax,” tell me about that. “What do you know about that?” Now, in the case of a customer, it’s gonna sound more like, “Well, your price is too high.” You know, or, “We need to talk to somebody else.” “I completely understand, this is a big decision.” You want to validate, that makes sense.

Change the Emotional State

Shari Levitin: So, we’re validating the customers’ concerns, and you wanna even validate the emotion behind the words which is tricky for a lot of reps. “So, what I’m hearing you say is this is a big decision, “there’s a lot of decision-makers involved, “and you want to make absolutely sure, “that you’re spending your money wisely, “and that you don’t want to make the wrong decision. “Is that what I hear you saying?” Well, right away this changes everything. It puts them at ease.

Shari Levitin: So, we’re changing the emotional state first. Again, what a lot of sales reps do is they’ll instantly drop the price, or change the deal, not realizing the underlying psychology of why a customer is giving us an objection in the first place. And when a customer gives us an objection, they’re usually in one of three negative emotional states. They’re in the state of fear, they’re in the state of suspicion, maybe they don’t trust you, or maybe they’re embarrassed, they don’t understand your product, it’s so complex, it’s got all these bells and whistles.

Shari Levitin: And, what we have to understand is that we have to change the emotional state, so we go from validate to state before we change the deal. So, when someone is in fear, they are in their fight or flight mode. They’re gonna argue with you or they’re gonna bail out and not call you back. So by validating the concern first, telling them, we understand how they feel, validating their emotions, “You must be scared, you must be concerned.” What we’re doing is we’re getting them into a more emotional, a more receptable emotional state.

Isolate the REAL Concern

Shari Levitin: Now, step three, and this is critical, and this is where most reps fall, is we have to isolate the real concern to make sure it’s the final objection and the only objection, and it really sounds something like this, “Well your price is too high.” “Gosh, I understand. “The last thing you wanna do is, you know, “do this, make a mistake. “Let me ask you this, if the price was lower, is this something you’d go ahead and move forward with?”

Shari Levitin: Because five out of ten times, they’ll say no, and they’ll go ahead and give you the real objection. And I always say there’s only six real objections to purchasing. The problem is too often reps are dealing with an excuse but not the real objection, and, so by going through this process, we’re more apt to get one of the six real objections that the customer has.

Darryl Praill: So, let’s recap. We’ve talked about the power of courage and how it starts off with actually owning it, just take responsibility for it, and what that starts with is a mindset, and then you can use that courage in various tactics, like in the example of closing, which we’re doing multiple times throughout the deal. Lovely, rhyming, three-prong approach, have the courage to validate them, which will then lead to a change of state. Validate, change of state, which now allows you to isolate, And you can get down to the root cause

Shari Levitin: Correct.

Darryl Praill: If we follow this, you’re on the path to success, and then the courage thing becomes a non-issue because you’ve done it once or twice, you know like, I got this! And therefore, you never have to have that conversation that all began with by “They were unable to pay the price.” Because now you can say, “I figured out what the problem was about price, “and I was able to convince them of the value, “and now we have a closed deal.” And it all started with courage.

Darryl Praill: If you guys are just loving the fact that A, this time has flown by, that Shari is a wealth of knowledge, then I’m gonna tell you, reminder, she’s at the OutBound Conference. Outboundconference.com you can use VS100 for Vanilla Soft 100 to get some money off if you go register. But if you liked Shari, check her out, @sharilevitin on Twitter, just like that. S-H-A-R-I-L-E-V-I-T-I-N. Check her out on LinkedIn, or just make it easy, go to sharilevitin.com.With that, we’re out of time folks. I do apologize, but hey, now you’ve got the courage to face the rest of the day. My name is Darryl Praill, that was Shari Levitin and this is another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales. You take care. We’ll talk to you soon.