Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Fear of rejection tops list of hidden weaknesses

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The word “no” is said to be the most feared word in the English language.

The biggest professional obstacle many working adults face is overcoming the fear of rejection. From dating to asking for a raise at work, most adults – like children – hate being told, “no.”

Do you have hunters in your company who hate hearing the word no and, as a result, never close the sale? Are you an owner whose business growth is dependent on you selling your services, but you have a problem with hearing “no” over and over again from prospective clients? Are you an account manager who spends too much time on a client because you are afraid what will happen if you let them go?

Adults have to learn to overcome an issue that has been plaguing them since childhood. The best, most productive, professionals in the world have to overcome personal belief systems that have been instilled in them from early on – issues such as talking openly about money, telling persons of authority no and hearing a negative answer to a question they just asked.
Professionals who have not overcome these issues will undoubtedly have trouble closing deals and, as a result, won’t be able to effectively increase revenue and grow their businesses.

My experience shows that the top reason why 85 percent of professional sales training fails is because people don’t focus on hidden weaknesses, like fear of rejection. Some symptoms of fear of rejection are:
• not asking tough questions;
• not prospecting (going after new business);
• not being OK with hearing the word “no”;
• giving proposals without a clear next step; and
• not adding new clients to the company roster.

Your belief system was instilled in you at an early age. Remember the time your parents gave you a warning look when you innocently asked your neighbor, Mr. Williams, how much he paid for his car? Or when your dad asked you to mow the yard, but you promised David down the street you would come over in 15 minutes? You had to call David and tell him you would not be able to play that day. Our behaviors and situational responses have been conditioned in us, and when some of those things carry over into our professional adult lives, it can be detrimental to our success.

It is invaluable to recognize your hidden weaknesses. You can polish your sales script over and over, but when it comes to talking about money, you low-ball yourself every time. What difference did your wonderful script and presentation make? Most of the time, it is not the training that fails but the fact that your hidden weaknesses were not uncovered and, therefore, you are always doomed to repeat the same mistake.

Have you ever not asked for a piece of new business because you felt they were going to say no? Have you ever not said no to a prospective client when they gave you outlandish requests for a budget that was too small for you to even consider doing business with? Have you ever lowered your price before presenting because you were afraid the prospective client would say it was too high? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your fear of rejection and your belief system are keeping you from growing your business and clearing your pipeline.

Working to fix these types of issues are not an overnight process. But over time, it can be done.

Brett Baker is a managing partner for TrustPoint Management Group in Springfield. He can be reached at
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