Turning the Fear of Selling into Confidence

by Jacques Werth

In my first sales job, I visited over 100 potential customers a week.  Every time I walked into a company and asked to see the person who could make a decision to buy the kind of product I was selling, I did so with trepidation.  Each time, it became harder and more nerve wracking.

When I occasionally got to talk to decision makers, I was uncomfortable just trying to build a little rapport with them.  After 4 months, I had sold nothing, I was thoroughly discouraged, and I was ready to quit.

Then I got lucky.  The top salesperson in the huge company that employed me agreed to let me go on sales calls with him.  I learned a new way of selling by carefully observing how he worked.  I also learned that his truly relaxed way of communicating set him apart from other salespeople.

He did not do any of the typical rapport building techniques that salespeople are taught.  He knew how to control the conversation confidently without controlling the prospect.  After watching him for a couple of days, I learned how to do that by practicing his way of communicating with everyone I met.

Five years later, I was a highly successful salesperson and managed my first sales force.  Since that time, I have hired, trained, and managed hundreds of salespeople.  Most of them exhibited the same kind of anxiety that I did as a neophyte salesperson, even after they had been in sales for years.  I taught many of them how to be relaxed and confident, and they became much more successful.

Just as I did, people can learn to talk to almost anyone with confidence in their competence if they get the right kind of training and practice.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

15 thoughts on “Turning the Fear of Selling into Confidence”

  1. You need to believe in what you do and offer.
    Let the world know that you are here to offer your services and support like a friendly neighbour.
    Show confidance to receive confidance.

    Be someone who is welcome with a smile.


    1. Andrew,

      Believing in what you sell is not enough, even when the believing is sincere. It’s important, but not enough.

      Friendly is not enough. In fact, it’s too often followed by offensive sales tactics.

      Showing confidence is too much like bravado. It’s more important to be it than to act it.

      What’s important is in the details of how you communicate.

      Carl Ingalls


  2. Being confident about the product does not necessarily makes one confident in a sales situation. I have sold world’s number one brand and a mediocre brand of welding machines. I could not find hardly any difference in the feeling.


  3. He knew how to control the conversation confidently without controlling the prospect.”

    Can you tell me how to do that?


  4. Mike: That’s the subject of an upcoming Teleseminar.

    It takes about six hours of training and practice to gain the skill “to control the conversation confidently without controlling the prospect.”

    I don’t know how to explain it in this venue.



    1. Hi Jacques,

      I take it this new teleseminar is in the early stages of development not yet ready for release? Or is it kind of like the powerful listening course? Either way I’m getting darn near close to finishing my prelicensing training, about half way through it and will be calling you up rather soon. My boss is currently reading your book too!


  5. To all:

    I stopped being afraid when I realized that I only have to talk to prospects who want to talk to me. If a prospect doesn’t want to talk to me, I say, “OK. Goodbye.” and call the next person on my list. A car salesman, for example, might use the following script:

    “This is Joe Salesman with ABC motors. You purchased a car some time ago. Are you willing to spend five to ten minutes to see if it makes sense to trade in your current vehicle for a new model?”

    That’s 39 words. It takes ten seconds to read. (I timed it). No persuasion required. Just yes or no. This approach will screen out the 98% of the public who don’t want a new car right now. The 2% who are in the market will want to talk to you and will be highly likely to accept your invitation to come in for a test drive.

    It’s the persuading and convincing that make sales so hard. It hurts when people don’t take our helpful, well-intentioned, unsolicited advice (anybody have kids?). Identifying High Probability prospects is a lot easier than creating them.

    By the way, the High Probability process cannot be learned in this blog or even by reading Jacques’s book. It requires practice and a lot of coaching. So my helpful, well-intentioned, unsolicited advice is to take the training. It will pay you back many times over.

    David Ross


    1. Hello David and All,

      Thank you very much for your recommendation of High Probability Selling. You have captured the spirit of HPS very well, and this will be helpful to our readers.

      However, I want our readers to understand that the script in your comment is not a good example of a High Probability Prospecting Offer. It’s short and it started well, but it misses on some critical points.

      First, a real High Probability Prospecting Offer would not include a statement like “You purchased a car some time ago.” We go directly to saying what it is that we are selling.

      Second, saying “Are you willing to spend five to ten minutes to see if it makes sense to …” is using a lot of words to say very little. We prefer to get to the point much more directly.

      Third, High Probability Selling is about finding people who want to buy what we are selling. We are not looking for people who want to think about it or talk about it.

      Carl Ingalls


  6. Hi Carl and Jacques,

    The HP prospecting offer, as I understand it, is designed for cold calling. Over time the cold calls will become warm calls; and when the timing is right, you will acquire a new customer.

    The aforementioned script is my attempt to come up with a way to contact people who are already customers. These people already have a relationship or connection to my product or service. Because turnover of salespeople is so high in my industry (life insurance), we get a lot of so-called “orphan” accounts; that is, customers who no longer have an agent or representative assigned to them.

    Now, the value of these orphan accounts is debatable; it is, perhaps, a better strategy to just say “No” to these leads and call my own list. However, as a new salesman with the company, I am not in a position to reject these leads; first, because the leads do in fact generate revenue (these people see the value of insurance and are comfortable with our company); second, because we are required to spend one evening a week making evening calls (and the list does not have to go through the Do-Not-Call filter); and third, because it would upset my sales manger (and I am not yet in a position where I can risk that).

    I have tried the following script when calling these orphan accounts.

    “This is David Ross with ABC Life Insurance. You have insurance with our company. Do you want me to review your policy to see if it still fits your needs?”

    Do you suggest that a list of current customers be treated as any other list? Perhaps I should not refer to the relationship at all, just as we should not refer to previous prospecting offers when calling prospects.

    Also, a lot of our customers have insurance products that are no longer sufficient or appropriate. These accounts are not High Probability in the sense that they are ready to buy NOW. However, when I call to tell them that their life insurance policy is about to lapse or expire; they can become High Probability prospects real fast.

    Lastly, maybe I am just being a wimp when I say that I can’t upset my manager and I can’t refuse to call these leads. (I would also like to skip sales meetings but I can’t do that either). Please feel free to call a wimp a wimp. I can take it!


    David Ross


    1. David,

      The first time you talk to a prospect it’s a cold call. Every time after that it’s a warm call. This is what High Probability Prospecting is designed for: one cold call followed by many warm calls.

      I’m completely aware of the pressures you feel now. I’ve talked to many hundreds of agents that have had the same experiences.

      As to the “wimp” factor – insurance companies are set up so that managers make money on the turnover of failed agents. What do you think happened to the thousands of agents that sold all those orphaned policies? Managers are good at making wimps out of most agents. Your manager is doing what is right for him, not what is right for you. You’re not a wimp, you’re a victim.

      All the best,



  7. Most effective sales pitch for selling high-priced or big volume items by telephone:

    Hello! Mr Johnson?

    [The remainder of this comment has been deleted by the editor – Carl Ingalls]


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