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What are we really afraid of?

Ascending the airstairs of the jet bridge, I could feel my heart pounding. I punched in the security code for access, swung open the entry, and made my way to the door of the aircraft. A quick turn left and I found myself racing through the first-class section of this massive L-1011 airliner, ahead and a step down lay the cockpit. As I entered, the hum of avionics surrounded me as my eyes searched wildly for the aircraft’s manual. Tucked away neatly in a panel toward the rear of the cockpit, there it was, as I grabbed it and rustled through the pages. I thought that the nose gear hookup had to be in here somewhere. At last, I found it, and there it was complete with a diagram and the instruction on how to hook up the tow bar. After a few more minutes I was all set, heading back down to connect the aircraft to the push back tug, wherein about an hour I would be pushing 250 people and crew from the gate on the start of their journey to New York.

I often think about this experience years later, where I had taken a job with an Airline as I waited for a sales training class to start at a future employer. My first task, on my first night at work at the airline, was to push a plane loaded with passengers from the gate. I can still hear the supervisor say. “You know how to push a plane, right?” I answered that of course, I did when I did not have a clue. Not to worry as a pilot I knew everything was in the manual, I mean how hard could it be and what was there to be afraid of?

As sellers, we have a couple of primal fears. We fear, rejection and the dreaded no from our prospects. As a result of this, we fear failing and not making our goal and finally we fear in some cases not being liked by our customers and colleagues further adding to our sales woes. For sure as salespeople, we will face a no or two along the way, as well as a ton of rejection. It is part of the territory, and the sooner we get used to it and accept it, the better off we will be. I recall very few of the prospects I sold to in my career, saying, “We are so glad you are here; we’ve been waiting to buy from you.” Rather most sales situations are loaded with right angles from both the customer and your employer. Sometimes the internal sale is even harder than the external one. The effect of more no’s than yeses can ultimately end up in failure and the knock-on effects from that, so what can we do?

In my opinion, the first step for Sales professionals is to be realistic. You and only you are responsible for your destiny, meaning you have to be willing to self-evaluate and self-improve constantly. Sure, organizations will train you in their ways and on their products but an opportunity to self-improve should never be overlooked. For today’s sales professionals there are countless resources available that can assist you in aspects of selling skills, motivation, and learning. Using the excuse that you did not receive it from within will only go so far. Personal and professional development that should lead to success and advancement is as much as anything our responsibility. Selling for as external as it is, can be a lonely profession too, so make sure to surround yourself with like-minded positive people that can add to your success.

Dealing with our most intimate fears as salespeople is a must. We cannot avoid the no’s, so it is how we deal with them that is most important. The people on the other side of the selling table are just that people, they put on clothes the same as we do every day. Separate yourself from your selling competition by learning as you go, make yourself smarter with each interaction. Remember what you did right on the wins and what you did wrong on the losses. Remember that the better you get at your craft the less rejection you will get, the increased success you will have, and your colleagues and clients will trust and respect you. I am certain if you do this you won’t have to run for the manual, an hour before takeoff to try and figure out how you are going to get the job done.

P.S. No one was hurt in the process of pushing out the plane, by all accounts the passengers arrived at their destination and the aircraft flew for many more years. Phew!

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include: Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR's, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $200 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and the associations. Roger has also developed tactical sales training for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share with a commonsensical approach, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at

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