Have you ever been caught like the proverbial deer in the headlights?sabre toothed tiger

Like when a prospect throws a curly question to you and you freeze, then stammer out an answer?

Later on you think, “If only I’d answered it this way…” But the moment has passed. The prospect is long gone.

Well you can thank (or not) evolution for this.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the fight-flight reaction we’re all programed for.

But did you know there’s a pre-cursor to these – which is Freeze.

And there’s a good evolutionary reason for it.

When confronted by a sabre tooth tiger your ancestor’s best option was to first freeze, stand rooted to the spot, not breathe and hope the beast didn’t notice him.

If that didn’t work, the next option was to run. Fast!

Chances are you couldn’t outrun the fangs so your last resort was to turn and fight.

Fast forward to today and the same sequences play out beneath your conscious control.

There is no way to completely avoid them. But you can mitigate the effects.

Arguably two professions have learned to do this exceptionally well.

The Military and Commercial Aviation.

Every army drills and skills relentlessly until hopefully reactions become automatic under stress. They keep upping the pressure, moving from simulated exercises to live fire.

Commercial Aviation puts pilots through flight simulators on a very regular basis. They pile on the pressure to ensure pilots can respond (not react) to stressful situations and still calmly operate.

All the exercises are designed to prevent two things. Freezing and then flight (well, in the case of aviation – so they keep flying! *smile*)

They want their people to fight to stay alive.

But if you’re not in the military or a pilot, how does this apply in your business?

Rejection. It’s probably the most common fear in the modern world.

We fear rejection when walking into a room full of strangers at a networking function. Or picking up the phone to call a prospect. Or sitting in front of a prospect who holds the power of your commission in their hands!

In every one of these situations fear can take hold and paralyse you. Your heart rate goes up, breathing becomes uneven and you wonder why you’re putting yourself through this.

But you’ve now walked into the room of strangers, or your prospect is sitting in front of you waiting expectantly. Freezing is no longer an option.

You now look for a familiar face and make a beeline (flee) for them. Or you start small talk with your prospect trying to avoid getting to the point – where there’s a risk of them asking difficult questions and possibly rejecting you.

But at some point the chips come down and you have to face your fears. Move away from the familiar and meet new people. Or take charge of the sales meeting with your prospect.

The only question is how long will you take to get through each stage?

One thing to realise is every one of us is scared at some level. Some just move through the stages faster than others.

And the only way to speed up the process is to practice, practice, practice.

If you’re in sales, keep practicing with role plays. Practice openings, presenting your services, handling objections and closing.

Practice different scenarios. Have people throw curve balls at you. Practice thinking on your feet.

There are no shortcuts.

As the late Betty Churcher, best known as director of the National Gallery of Australia from 1990 to 1997 said in an interview before her death, “Talent only gets you to the bottom of the mountain. It takes complete dedication and focus to get you over and across.”

Now go out and practice!

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