“You’re such an idiot!”
That was the thought that kept on going round and round in Fred’s head. With each revolution the frustration built. Fred was paralyzed because he wanted to go into the store and sell them advertising. But something much stronger within him wanted him to give up. The indecision was causing the paralysis.
Fred knew that “get organized” was code for chickening out. Well he wasn’t exactly chickening out; he was dealing with the frustration and anxiety the only way he knew how. Even this thinly veiled self deception was much better than the brutal truth that he was a failure.
Overcoming the fear of sales calls
In a previous life, Fred was a successful business executive. He could sell, he could manage, he could do anything he set his mind to. His success in building a successful business was the very thing that convinced him to buy a franchise. “If I can work for the man, why not work for myself.”
Not getting out of the car meant that Fred was not talking to real prospects. His pipeline was empty and his future was dim. Out of all the franchisees, he was at the very bottom. Fred knew he had to do something because being the least successful franchisee was humiliating. He hired a sales coach to give him the sales training and motivation he needed to be successful. Everything the coach told him made sense and it should’ve worked. But some mental block within Fred sabotaged his efforts to sell.
When Fred told me what was going on, I asked him to go back to a particular time where he was unable to get out of the car and make sales calls. Fred said, “Two days ago I was sitting in the car looking at the stores that I wanted to call on and was unable to do so.” I said, “In your mind go back to that event. Be in the car looking at the stores. Hear whatever was going on; the radio, passersby, even the thoughts scrolling by in your mind. When you see and hear an event from the past you also get to re-experience what you are feeling back then. Fred,what were you feeling?”
You could clearly see there was a shift in Fred’s body language. The skin on his face got tighter; there were frown lines on his forehead. He was looking down (emotionally , and literally looking at the floor). Fred said, “I’m feeling that frustration and anxiety right now.” I said, “we are in your body are you feeling it?” Fred pointed to the center of his chest.
You see, what’s going on is this: Your mind will trick you because it’s trying to help you to succeed while simultaneously trying to keep you safe. It keeps you safe by avoiding unpleasant thoughts and ideas about you and your self-worth. But your body never lies. The feeling that Fred was experiencing was authentic and true. More importantly it was a clue to what was really going on.
Using a tool from neuroscience I was able to link that uncomfortable feeling to his unconscious mind. I asked him, “When have you felt this exact feeling before?” His unconscious mind went directly to an unpleasant event that sent his life down a totally different path.
Several years earlier there was a power struggle at Fred’s last corporate job. At the time, Fred was friends with a Senior Vice President (SVP). When there was a power struggle at the top of the organization that SVP was canned. Everyone connected to him including Fred was let go as well.
When that happened it created a belief within Fred that he was a fraud. At one level, Fred knew he was great at his job and his being fired was all politics. At the same time some vulnerable part of his psyche said, “If I got fired it must be because they found out I was a fraud!”
This limiting belief was responsible for what was going on now.
One part of Fred‘s psyche knew with certainty that he was a great salesperson. The other part of his psyche told him he was a fraud. This conflict was keeping Fred trapped in his car. Using a technique from Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP). I was able to resolve that conflict that day. This allowed Fred to overcome the fear of making sales calls. Afterwards, I told Fred, “Call me in a few days and let me know what’s different.”
A couple of days later Fred called to say that he was leaving the house every morning at 9 o’clock to do his sales calls. He was driving to the mall and talking with prospects. Fred was making sales!
The problem wasn’t a lack of sales skills. It wasn’t even a lack of confidence. The thing that was blocking Fred was a limiting belief created by that past traumatic event.
Every single human being on planet Earth is spectacular at doing certain things. There are other areas where we struggle. If there is an area that you want to be successful at and you’re still struggling, there has to be a reason. Maybe you need more skills in that area. This is an easy fix, get the training you need and claim your prize. But sometimes the issue is a mental block that stops you from executing. This is where tools from neuroscience and NLP can help you overcome the fear of selling quickly. And the change is permanent.