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  • Writer's pictureIan McWilliams

How I overcame FEAR - and how you can too!

Man holding paper notice about fear afraid question
Is fear holding you back? It did me.


After suffering and recovering from severe panic attacks, I know what it's like to face fears -but how about Fear of Rejection in sales? How do you overcome that?

Many years go I regularly experienced debilitating panic attacks - they usually manifested themselves as I was driving, not ideal in my job! Certain roads would set the panics off, even knowing in advance I would be driving on one of the 'trigger' roads would seem to set them off.

The helplessness, the feeling that I was about to or was actually having a heart attack, hot sweats, dizziness, the desire to stop or at least get off the road I was on - all things that are not conducive to doing a job which involves an awful lot of driving, I'm sure you'll agree!

So how did I overcome this problem? How did I achieve mastery over the attacks?

Firstly I sought professional help - this was well worth doing as it laid out the basis as to why I was getting the attacks and more importantly how to control them. I had to in detail, document my working week and the analysis was to actually slow down - give myself some 'me time', switch off occasionally. Relax for say twenty minutes during the day, switch my phone off (easier said than done) and have a bite to eat and something to drink. This certainly helped. So did the knowledge that panic attacks per se have never killed anyone - despite the feeling that you are in the middle of a huge heart attack.

But something else really helped...


I was advised to read this book by Susan Jeffers - 'Feel the fear and do it anyway'. Fear will always be present in our lives, but we have to face our fears and work through them, if not we will let the fear take control. One of the biggest sayings I remember from the book was along the lines of 'you cannot stop the fear before the event, but you can control it and after the event the fear goes'.

I still find that difficult - for example you won't find me doing a bungee jump or falling out of an aeroplane!


How about in sales? Can fear hold you back if you are in sales?

Big NO image
Expect this word a lot in sales!

Yes fear can hold you back in sales! Mainly a fear of rejection. It is probably the biggest single reason why some in sales do not succeed - they are fearful of rejection.

They won't ask for the order in case the customer says 'NO'!

The easiest way I found to overcome this is to ask myself the question: 'If someone says NO to me what is the worst that could happen?' Well basically nothing will happen. You've been told NO - so what? Once you have that NO response then you can work on why - how to change it to a big fat lovely YES! It may take time and depends on the circumstances but you need to work out what was wrong, what would it take to get a YES? Sometimes it's as simple as asking the client that same question - they often will tell you why they are not buying off you. Now you know why, now you can work on it. If you didn't ask the question then not only would you still not have the sale, but you also wouldn't have a clue as to how to turn the situation round.

I once read that in sales, every 'NO' is one step nearer to a 'YES'. What a load of rubbish! If you are consistently getting 'NO's' day in day out, maybe there is something wrong with your offering, your presentation, your attitude - YOU! Sure, we all get plenty of rejection but overall we are successful because we understand the customer, understand their needs and we know how our products are going to solve our customer's problems.

So let's work hard in turning a 'NO' into a...

The word YES
The word all sales people love!

Getting a 'YES' is very exciting! Especially at first. I remember early in my sales career loving it when I'd return to a shop and see some products I sold in last time proudly on display in the shop window! What a feeling! However, I quickly learned that sell-in is one thing 'SELL-THROUGH' is quite another and is in fact far more important.

We can discuss that in a future blog.

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Signs of a heart attack

The book Feel the fear and do it anyway available from Amazon and other good book sellers.

My LinkedIn profile (lot's of good stuff here!)

Companies I sell for:

Ian McWilliams


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