One of the secrets to breakthrough in sales performance is not taught in any sales course I ever took – because it is attitudinal. It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone but not outside your competence zone. They are not the same thing and most sales people get the two confused. The best sales people I’ve ever met (or trained) did not display a uniform consistency of skills or technique but they did share one thing in common – the willingness to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of their goals – what I call performance courage

[or sales courage?].

Think about it. Attitude drives behavior and actions drive performance. When we limit ourselves to actions that fall only within our comfort zone then we are depriving ourselves from reaching anywhere close to our potential – and yet this is exactly what most sales people do. The breakthrough is to realize that you can still be competent when you are uncomfortable.

What is holding you back?

In my seminar “The Art of Business Development” I have a module on stepping outside your comfort zone and it is almost always greeted with trepidation by participants because it brings up barriers to performance and that gets uncomfortable. However, in role plays and subsequent experience in the real world when sales people are willing to confront that barrier miracles can happen.

I recall the experience of a young Key Account Manager in a major clothing company who shared during training that she was terrified of the President of a new retail account she had taken over and yet he was the one who held final approval over major buying contracts that came up for renewal. She needed to work with him to win the business yet she was actually avoiding him. I recommended she get him on neutral ground out of the office for a first meeting and during the training (and with the enthusiastic support of her peers) she declared she would call him and ask him to lunch. I got an email from her 3 weeks later saying that he turned out to be courteous and professional and she is now on her way to adding six figures to her sales results. I have received a lot of these emails over the years.

Confidence can be learned

When we push out against our discomfort our comfort zone gets bigger – as does our competence zone – and confidence can be learned. Here are some tips on stepping outside your comfort zone:

Start small and raise the bar slowly. \once you see yourself achieving small goals you’ll make them bigger.

  1. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself – I can pretty much guarantee you will. Get over it.
  2. Get the attention off yourself – it’s not about you (that’s a relief – I thought it was all about me!) – it’s about creating value for the customer.
  3. Courage is universally respected.
  4. Strive for excellence – not perfection.
  5. Make a list of everything that you are resisting or avoiding that is outside your comfort zone and  then try one a day – the process can transform your attitude to your comfort zone – and your results.
  6. Remember – everything of value in life is on the other side of fear.