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Some of the older approaches to sales are based on a fear of the prospective client. Fear is a crippling emotion in sales, limiting the salesperson’s performance, preventing client leadership, and removing any possibility of being considered a peer.

Fear in Legacy Approaches

There are a number of fears that exist in sales approaches still taught and trained today. More to the point, most of these fears repel clients. Legacy approaches encouraged salespeople to evade questions, withhold information, and lack the candor that a client would expect from someone they are considering as a potential supplier.

Fear of Addressing Their Price

Many prospective clients ask questions about pricing, but legacy salespeople are taught to respond with another question—a tactic arising from a fear that the prospective client might say they can't afford the price. If the client is scared off by the price, the argument goes, they might end the conversation with no real commitment.

There is no good reason for a salesperson to fear a client conversation. When you are evasive about your pricing, it can feel like you are trying to hide the amount from the client or even manipulate them into spending too much. If the price is what it is, then there is no reason not to disclose it. If there is a range of investments, give your contact the upper and lower range, and then explain that you will dial it in for them as you get a better understanding of what they need.

sweaty nervous man in a presentation

Fear of Sharing Advice and Recommendations

In every sales meeting, your contact is trying to understand what they might need to do to improve their results. Having helped many companies over time, you are well-equipped to provide them with a set of insights that would create massive value. Yet if you use a legacy approach, you withhold this value because you have been taught and trained to fear that your client will take your insights and share them with your competitor. Not only do you fear your client in this model, but you are also afraid of your competition. Wow!

Giving in to this fear completely undermines your sales effectiveness. Because you can share nothing meaningful and valuable with your prospective client, you create no real value, other than the sheer entertainment value of watching you work to answer questions with questions and not say anything interesting enough to gain you a second meeting.

Fear of Asking for the Client's Business

Another fear-based approach to sales avoids asking your client directly for their business. Instead, you are supposed to engage in a battle of wills, waiting for your contact to ask to buy from you. Supposedly, asking your client to buy somehow makes you look like the weaker party.

What is really weak is doing the work to earn the right to the client's business, only to waste time waiting for your contact to ask you to please let them sign a contract. In a world with a glut of competitors and alternatives, there is no reason to wait for your competitors to speak up and leave with ink on paper. Always ask for the sale once you've earned the right to do so.

scared businessman in a meeting with clients

Fear that the Client is Lying

To guarantee a weird, awkward conversation with a decision-maker, assume that they are lying to you. Nothing sours a good relationship faster than believing the other party is always lying. When a client is evasive, it's not because they’re dishonest but because they lack trust. To bolster that trust, take your time and give them time.

There is no reason to fear a client isn't telling you something, especially when you are savvy enough to read between the lines and respond appropriately.

Fear in the Modern Sales Approach

Because the modern sales approaches are relatively new, they come with different fears, often stemming from concerns about alienating a prospective client. These fears can be especially pernicious if you were taught and trained to use a legacy approach.

Fear of Sharing Your Insights and Perspective

The modern sales approach is built on sharing insights and perspectives, but many salespeople fear that doing so with a senior leader would insult or alienate them. Yes, there are contacts who may respond negatively to your insights, but most decision-makers are confident enough to engage in the conversation, including sharing their own perspective.

The choice is simple: are you a peer or a subservient, servile, conflict-averse order-taker? If you provide no value for the decision-maker, there is no reason they should take your advice or buy from you. Instead of being afraid, ask the decision-maker to share how what you share is showing up in their world, along with how their experiences differ from your own observations.

woman nervous about meeting

Fear of Losing Your Crutches

Many salespeople can’t imagine starting a sales conversation without leaning on their company for credibility. Asking them to create value on their own is like asking a cat to take a bath: before you know it, they’ve high-tailed it to the parking lot and are speeding back to headquarters. The same thing happens if you ask them to engage with a client without asking them about their problems or pain points. But removing these sales crutches is not only necessary but helpful, as it forces you to recognize that you provide value through the sales conversation, not by describing your products or bragging about your company.


Salespeople who fear their prospective clients don't do well at taking care of their clients, especially if they believe the decision-maker's title and authority automatically relegates any salesperson to the weaker one-down position. The real tragedy is that those same salespeople often have the experience to counsel their clients and provide them with advice—if only they’d make an effort.

Every professional salesperson needs courage, confidence, competence, candor, and comfort with the small, professional conflict that is part of business. Fear limits action and by doing so, limits the value you can create for your client in the sales conversation. You can never be a trusted advisor if you don't believe you have any business earning your client’s business.

Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 4, 2022

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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