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Gender Bender: Five Telltale Symptoms of Make-the-Sale Anxiety

The sales doctor is in! Professionals have been contacting me in record numbers with anxiety over the need to make a sale. The new economy has shaken up more than revenues.

It's a different world today. Buyers want evidence—and lots of it—to justify why a purchase will be a wise investment. The knee-jerk reaction from sales representatives is to oversell. Too many of them are slipping into some nasty habits, which creates discomfort for everyone. Make-the-sale anxiety is quickly turning into an epidemic.

Warning Signs

If you suspect you're at risk of this malady, I urge you read the symptoms below to assess the health of your sales immune system:

1. Presentation nausea. So anxious are you to get the sale, you find yourself running through endless features and benefits in mind-numbing detail. At the end of your long-winded monologue, both you and the customer feel nauseated.

2. Blocked ear infection. When the prospect talks about their needs, you miss important information. Why? You're too busy listening to the voice in your own head. Silently you're planning what to say next to dazzle the client to buy. This indicates a clear case of blocked ear infection.

3. Motor mouth disease. When you finally answer your client's questions, you mix up the 80/20 rule of business: Instead of spending 20 percent of the conversation responding, you take 80 percent of the airtime. You sort of answered the questions, but you also did a sales presentation. Everyone gets a headache.

4. Solution shooting disorder. When it comes time to narrow down the buying options, you panic. The confidence you need to offer up to three targeted solutions, to fit what the buyer asked for, goes out the window. In its absence you act like an out-of-control business consultant. You fire off solution after solution. With fingers crossed, you hope and pray they like something—anything—from your endless list of ideas. You've become delusional.

5. "Now-you-see-me, now-you-don't" virus. You missed the memo about customers insisting on follow-up after the sale. What a shame. A quick follow-up call could have led to more business and referrals. Now you're exhausted from pounding the pavement in search of new buyers.

Your Sales Prescription

If you identified with any of the warning signs of make-the-sale anxiety, you could be at serious risk of overselling. To make a full recovery, follow these instructions:

1. Recognize any fears you may have about not being able to make a sale.

2. Spot all nasty selling habits that could produce anxiety in you or your customer.

3. List at least 10 things of value you and your goods provide.

4. Re-read your list of values before you meet with a buyer, so as to anchor your self-confidence.

5. Make a deal with yourself: Take the attention away from you and give it to your buyer.

Once you're back on your feet, you'll never oversell again. How could you? When in top form you show up as yourself. You're the person who makes genuine connections and focuses on the customer. What could be healthier than that?

Kelly McCormick is a regular columnist for SMM. She is also the author of the forthcoming book "OutSell Yourself." To obtain her sales e-tips, in addition to information on her sessions, keynote talks, and tele-classes, visit www.outsellyourself.com or call 800-889-9637.