CoachingCourage Under Pressure

The fears crawling around our country today include those we find while we stay at home and those that stare back at us when we go out. In just the last few weeks, what lifts our present anxiousness has shifted to these:

  • Having a loved one get the virus
  • Losing a loved one to the virus
  • Getting the virus
  • Getting the virus and not recovering
  • Losing employment and the ability to work
  • Losing a business
  • Not being able to pay employees
  • Social Isolation or being alone
  • Not having money for food

In the presence of these insecurities, what is courage? What does it look like displayed in such a time as this? If we turn to psychology, we find very little research on this quality as compared to other personality traits. In January, 2018, Nate and his associates wrote about understanding the predictors of day to day courage in the workplace, and used this definition of courage:

“courage is a willful, intentional act, executed after mindful deliberation, involving objective substantial risk to the actor, primarily motivated to bring about a noble good or worthy end.”

Aristotle believed that courage was best demonstrated in those moments in which there was a fight and that soldiers in battle were the best examples. We can add firefighters and infectious disease nurses and doctors (think Ebola) to the list. All of them fight for a noble good and the protection of themselves and the citizens of their country. They are patriots.

Aristotle also believed, that because we give public honor to those who either die in battle or successfully overcome the enemy, this was proof of a higher, even the highest, type of courage. And, Mark Twain wrote that courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” If our courage definitions must contain the pursuit of a noble aim – one that benefits people – then those who behave in this way become our heroines and heroes.

I think, for most salespeople, prospecting for appointments is most difficult – especially at the right levels. Many find it hard to pick up the phone or meet someone new for the first time and win a meeting with them. Why? It’s because, to earn a living, they must move toward someone with whom they have no relationship. They must get a stranger to see them and answer their questions or watch their presentation. And, while a referred person gives a salesperson starting credibility, a sales rep, when prospecting and in face-to-face interactions ,must risk rejection, dial tones and “no.”

First, can salespeople make themselves prospect and sell to people for ignoble reasons? Yes!

Salespeople, to make sales, do not have to believe in the product they sell. In the real world, some with borderline sociopathic tendencies do not. They lie and posture and stimulate a response in others to make a purchase. They just want the money. They do not care about how the product helps someone; and, in the absence of conscience and empathy, they do not feel rejection. They shrug it off and just keep picking the phone up and bashing away at who answers. If in front of someone, they pressure, stimulate, or charm them into buying. This does not require courage only crafty boldness.

When a whole company of leaders value people in this way, this type of salesperson receives recognition at the top of the sales board. Meanwhile repeat business, referrals and brand reputation decrease. This culture brings in money – fast. Even lying is OK! Ever been around this type of sales outfit? It does not take courage to work there – just hard charging, thoughtless people.

Courage in sales requires prospecting at the right levels and handling the rejection. It means being willing to listen to the needs and problems of people. It requires honest declarations and presentations customized to show needs fulfilled and problems solved. It means admitting when your product does not meet customer requirements. It means telling the truth when the truth will lose you a sale. It means facing and handling customer problems after-the-sale and admitting mistakes and then fixing them until what was promised is delivered.

We all know the lawyer jokes and we have experienced ignoble sales reps. And, people in any profession can perform without honor. The best salespeople I know fight the internal fears of rejection and pessimism to earn money for themselves and their family. They do this for a noble aim that makes a positive difference in their home and for their customers. They earn money as the honest catalysts of business and they behave as virtuous merchants of products and services.

Today, at this time, we need courageous suppliers who pursue a noble good. We need the truth from shopkeepers, clerks, retailers and dealers. We don’t need the dishonest and cowardly hustler who preys on naive and trusting people and brings fear to the sequestered senior citizen.

I know you will work to represent decent and courageous sales reps. Then, you will always prosper yourself and your customers. You will be heroines and heroes.

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