Courage in sales

Published: December 10th, 2003

I spent four years in the US Army, from 1969-1973. As they prepared us for war, I remember well what they taught us about courage, “”Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s the management of fear.”” I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, especially when confronted with experiences that required

some courage to muddle through them. In fact, I’ve observed on more than one occasion that it’s not courage if it doesn’t involve fear. Some people have said about courage, “”It’s fear that said its prayers.”” Hemingway wrote, “”(Courage is) grace under pressure.””

Courage is not limited to acts of bravery on a battlefield or struggling against the insurmountable odds of a fatal disease. We use courage to navigate much of life’s tough experiences. We use courage in making the tough decisions in life. It takes courage to stand up to others when your principles tell you others are wrong. It takes courage to express creative ideas in the midst of groupthink. Some days it takes courage just to get out of bed.

Successful salespeople use courage for the tough situations in which they find themselves. For some, it takes courage to make cold calls, especially in an area filled with rejection. Some salespeople must rely on courage to make the tough calls and deliver tough news. Other salespeople use courage when they go to bat for the customer with their company or to go to bat for their company with their customer. And yet others use courage when they hold the line on prices. It takes courage to stand fast when the customer says, “”Your price is too high!”” First, customers test your price; then, they test your resolve.

Courage is one of those things you can develop. It starts when you make a stand. You feel the fear and act in spite of the fear, not because of the fear. For salespeople, there is no success without courage.

Tom Reilly’s pioneering work in Value Added Selling has earned him the global reputation as the foremost authority on the topic. In his first year with Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, he was their top salesman. He then started his own successful chemical company. Tom is president and founder of Tom Reilly Training.

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