In Part One, we considered the fable of the Two Wolves and how it applies to sales and business development. We recognized that living in the mind of the prospect are two wolves: Opportunity and Fear. We concluded that while the wolves coexist, one ultimately grows stronger… the wolf that is fed.
In Part Two, we explore how we can use Fear’s hunger to our benefit. Now, let me be very clear – I am not in any way advocating the creation of artificial fear. There are plenty of books, articles and sales methods that rely on creating fear. There are sales people and organizations that employ the “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)" factor.” FUD, as described by Wikipedia, is “a disinformation strategy used in sales, marketing, public relations, talk radio, politics, religious organizations, and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information and a manifestation of the appeal to fear.” Will this strategy work? I bet you can find examples in, say, 140 characters or less. But if you aren’t on social media, let’s consider something closer to home.
“John, what’s going to happen when there’s a firmware update and everything stops working? I mean, after all, you are the one choosing what your company uses. How will you handle everyone blaming you?”
“Mary, what’s going to happen when your boss realizes that you are still buying only the name brand and could have been saving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year? I mean, after all, everything else in your office is generic brands, so clearly your owners look at that as a safe way to save tons of money.”
Fear is full of insinuations, uncertainty and doubt. And its real power lies in making it personal. It’s not fear of something that happens, it’s fear of something that happens that affects me! The real problem with Fear is that he always seems big. Our job is to bring him down to size and determine where danger can lead to opportunity. When we take time to act as the doctor, asking questions, evaluating responses, choosing new questions based on those responses, engaging our prospect in conversation versus pitching, we can feed Opportunity and help our customers address the fears that are holding them back.
A few thousand years ago we were running around being chased by creatures that considered us to be tasty morsels. When you’re running around the forest trying not to get eaten, it’s probably better to listen to Fear, who is saying, “RUN,” than Opportunity, who brings attention to the cool lagoon over there, just right for a lazy afternoon nap.
We can use the voice of Fear responsibly and ethically by helping our prospects uncover true dangers. And once we bring Fear out into the open, we see him for what he is: a scaredy cat who wants only to make you as fearful as he is.
So, yes, Fear is important. Important for us to realize that he is lurking always; looking for an opportunity to devour hopes and dreams, and looking for ways to kill Opportunity. But once we focus on our prospects and their needs, we can look for ways to serve (Opportunity) and then deal with what is blocking progress and the realization of Opportunity — Fear.
Fear will never be entirely vanquished. Our job is to keep him malnourished, hungry and under our direction. We starve him as he seeks to kill Opportunity and feed him when we need him to generate appropriate fear – the fear of not taking action beneficial to our customer. Fear can be our ally when it comes down to making change.
Ready to make this personal? For me, I purposefully feed my own fear when I notice I’ve spent too much time in my comfort zone. Fear wants to keep me there – presumably for my own good. He claims to want to keep me safe and protected, away from all the harmful stuff that could happen. But what’s the truth? My dreams, my growth, my impact on the world is outside of my comfort zone. Maybe yours is as well. And your prospect — Fear tries to keep him doing what he’s always done. Opportunity wants him to experience so much more. Help your customers, help your family, your friends, your community to starve the limitations that Fear creates and feed the awesomeness that comes from our friend, Opportunity.
I’d love to hear from you on the fears that once kept you from experiencing opportunity … and how you moved past them. Or, if you’re stuck hiding from an overfed wolf known as, “Fear”, shoot me an email and let’s introduce him to his true adversary, the one you are going to feed — Opportunity!