Four Things Salespeople Can Learn..From Sir Laurence Olivier

The great English actor, Sir Laurence Olivier, once admitted after a lifetime on stage and screen that he had always suffered from stage fright.

Think about that. One of the 20th century’s most revered actors, who appeared in over 120 stage roles, 60 movies, more than 15 television productions and countless performances, actually battled the fear of rejection and failure. But when you look at his numbers, it’s obvious that Sir Laurence’s “condition” didn’t cost him success.

So, what about you? What do your “numbers” look like? You sales numbers, that is!

Sadly, too often, well trained and motivated people allow something to prevent them from achieving  their numbers. That “something” is to the marketplace what star fright is to acting: call it reluctance, brought on by the fear of rejection and failure.

The good news about call reluctance is that you can overcome it the way Sir Laurence overcame stage fright. Indeed, his success, and the fact that he was willing to talk about his condition, provides us with at least four clues about his professional courage and spirit.

  1. He recognized a personal performance challenge.
  2. He accepted it as something that must be dealt with.
  3. He took steps to minimize negative effects.
  4. He refused to let it get in the way of his goals and success.

How can you tell if you have debilitating call reluctance? You’ll find it in your numbers: insufficient calls, a missed selling step, poor close ratios; and of course failure to meet sales goals.

Those afflicted with call reluctance will often:

  • Call on customers they like instead of new prospects.
  • Spend time on safe activities, like paperwork, instead of face-to-face prospecting.
  • Make excuses when asked about why you aren’t opening new accounts.

If you aren’t hitting your sales numbers, the problem might be call reluctance. See if you recognize any of the behaviors in the list above. If so, consider Sir Laurence’s list again. There’s a good chance that you’ll need help with the first point, recognition, because most of us aren’t good at seeing our own shortcomings. And the third one, taking steps to minimize the challenge, will likely require help from a professional trainer.

But dealing with two and four, acceptance and refusing to give in, will require calling on inner strengths. You’ll have to ask yourself if you’r allowing fear to control and direct your life. Or are you more like Sir Laurence Olivier- prepared to recognize, deal with and minimize the effects of your challenge? And in the face of these challenges, can you draw on your spirit to accomplish your goals.

Write this on a rock….”KILL CALL RELUCTANCE”…by to letting it prevent you from having the maximum opportunity to be successful.Jim Blasingame Contributor to Forbes Magazine


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