My friend Tom Phelps, an executive for a high tech firm and Sales Career writer for, recently interviewed me for a future blog post.

One question Tom asked, “Are salespeople afraid of success?”

My short answer is yes, with lots of layers.

Aversion to success is made from numerous filo strips of fear that stick together to form an unsavory Baklava.

Salespeople are afraid:

  • to prospect new accounts. 

    They sit back waiting for the phone to ring, the RFP to arrive, the referral to land on their desk. (Back in the day we called these blue birds.)

  • to give an accurate forecast in the CRM system. 

    Salespeople are under the microscope. Constantly being pressured by management as to where they stand in their accounts.

  • to call the right person. 

    Instead of calling high in the organization, (CEO, COO, etc.) which can take a lot of time, effort, and chutzpah, sales peeps call on the person who has little influence over the buying decision.

  • to ask for the order. 

    If you’re in sales, you’re going to hear a lot of no’s before you get to a yes. Rejection hurts.

  • they have a poor performing product/service. 

    Can you imagine selling something and worrying whether or not it’s going to work? Salespeople eat, sleep, and breathe worry.

  • of their sales managers. 

    Nothing happens until something gets sold. The CEO applies pressure on the Sales Manager who puts pressure on the sales soldiers on the front line. It never lets up.

  • to ask customers for a reference. 

    Why? Because, in the salesperson’s mind, it’s self serving. They feel guilty about the ask.

  • to follow up with customers to see how things are going. 

    Many salespeople don’t swing around and ask the client for feedback. Why? They’re afraid to hear bad news. The product/service doesn’t do what the sales dudette said it would do.

  • of being themselves. 

    Instead of acting natural, being vulnerable, admitting when they don’t have all the answers, the typical salesperson tries to be something that they’re not. This kills their performance.

People don’t fear success; they’re afraid of the cumulative steps required to achieve success.

This is true if you’re an entrepreneur, a director for a non profit, a leader, in career transition, etc.

If running into fear is too scary for you then jump in, wade in, put one toe in, or crawl in.

Just get in motion.

Photo credits courtesy of BK and Keith Trice.

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