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How to Get Over Being Nervous in Sales

by Chris Miksen

Whether you're about to give a sales presentation to a room full of clients or pitch a product or service over the phone, you may feel sick to your stomach before you even begin. For a salesperson, being overly nervous is the death knell for closing out a sale. Calm your nerves by readying yourself before a pitch. Study what you sell and understand that silence isn't a bad thing.

Understand Your Product

Learn as much about what you're selling as you possibly can. The more you know, the more confidence you'll exude -- and the less nervous you will feel. A successful sales pitch persuades prospective clients to spend money on a product or service. A good salesperson explains the product or service in detail, such as the advantages it offers over similar products or services; its features, history and reputation; and the type of results clients can expect. You must be able to explain warranties and guarantees, and ultimately describe how it will benefit the client in his particular situation. Without complete knowledge about what you're selling, your pitch fail to entice the client.

Prepare Yourself

Prepare your pitch and envision the two-way conversation between you and your client, so you aren't searching for and stumbling over your words. Outline your sales pitch instead of mapping out a play-by-play. Things rarely go exactly as you expect, so following a rigid plan may not work and may result in you sounding robotic. Instead, think of a few points you want to focus on relative to the client's situation and arm yourself with a couple of answers to questions that might throw you off track. For instance, if you are attempting to sell a car to the father of a 17-year-old daughter, prepare to talk about safety features and reliability. Your go-to answer for any perceived mechanical problem could be that you'll have a service technician check it out. When making sales pitches over the phone, keep a note card with important points near the phone.

Silence

One of the most common mistakes nervous salespeople make is feeling that they have to avoid silence at all costs. Instead of letting a conversation naturally flow, they plug in useless information, interrupt a client's train of thought and never give the chance for a natural two-way conversation to develop. Their nerves overtake them anytime there's a pause in the conversation. Realize that silence is not only acceptable, but as the Harvard Business Review puts it, "Silence can be used to gain dominance during conversations." While you don't want to sit there staring at the client for five minutes, a pause while he or you contemplate an answer is not a bad thing. For example, suppose you sell insurance policies and just explained the benefits that policyholders enjoy. Give him a moment to collect his thoughts and process the information before throwing out additional advantages of the policy.

Calming Techniques

Even after you arm yourself with knowledge, prepare for your sales pitch and allow conversations to flow naturally, you may still find yourself in a nervous state. Sweaty and shaky hands, rapid breathing and a dry throat can definitely affect your sales pitch. Breathe deeply, drink water before and during a long pitch, and keep tabs on your delivery by slowing down and not speaking too quickly. Even seasoned salespeople experience a bit of nervousness, so don't expect to feel completely relaxed. A few butterflies in the pit of your stomach aren't going to ruin your opportunity to close a sale. Just don't let the butterflies amass in large numbers.

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