Sometimes, we can behave like little children — and it holds us back…
A quick “slice of life” story, from this past weekend.
My parents hosted us at the Rose Children’s Theater in Omaha, for a showing of the musical, Madagascar (yes, based on the movie with the talking animals).
This story isn’t about the musical itself — but about something that happened in the hour or so before.
We drove up to Omaha. We were there a little early. And after an hour-long drive, we wanted to get out and stretch our legs.
We meant to just run around in an open grass area next to the theater. But it’d been fenced off, presumably for some new construction.
So we had to go somewhere else.
We thought of the slides, in downtown Omaha.
There’s a big park, with a lake, that’s about one block wide and maybe half a dozen long. And at one end of the park is a set of two slides that are probably about two-stories high.
They’re made from concrete, with sheet metal rolled out — they’re serious business.
When I was growing up, we used to bring cardboard and waxed paper, so we could zoom down the slides and fly off the end. That’s the kind of big slides they are.
Well, my kids are young.
Our oldest, 8, took to the slides quickly.
Our middlest, 6, was more hesitant.
And our youngest, 3, wouldn’t even climb the steps to the top.
All age-appropriate behavior.
But, I knew if they got over their fear, they’d have a ton of fun.
The slides are safe. And unless you’re sitting on a sheet of waxed paper, there’s enough of a runway at the bottom that you come to a stop before the slides even end.
And so I offered to take them down.
The middlest, he was a bit scared. But he climbed into my lap. And we zoomed down the slides.
He thought it was fun, but he was still a little unsure.
So I offered to take him again. We ran to the top of the stairs, hopped on, and down we went.
He was off to the races!
From that point forward, he was all smiles and laughs and no fear — and would have kept sliding until sundown if we didn’t have the show to go to.
Then, I offered to take the youngest.
At first, she didn’t want to do it. Then, she changed her mind.
We got to the top, and she still wasn’t sure. I got her to climb into my lap, and against a little protest, I went.
She cried. Uh oh.
I told her it was okay. She didn’t have to go again. And at first, she agreed. But then, she hesitated. There was something calling her. She wanted to go again.
And so we climbed back up the steps. And I sat down at the top of the slides again. She hesitated. Then climbed in my lap. She was still uncomfortable. But, she said she was ready.
We went — and she still wasn’t sure she liked it!
But, she was sure she was getting the hang of it, and she wanted to go again.
So up the steps we went — then down the slide.
This time, she loved it.
And so it went. Time after time. Up the steps. Down the slide. Up the steps. Down the slide. Just about as fast as her bigger brothers.
Then, she switched it up and mommy took her a few times. Then, she wanted daddy again.
By the time we had to leave for the show (it was really just 20-25 minutes at the slides), all the kids loved the experience. And all of them wanted to go back again.
There is so much opportunity and fun on the other side of the fear threshold!
I want to talk about this from two perspectives.
First, from your perspective, as a marketer and salesperson…
Second, from your prospect’s perspective, as they consider your offer…
Why you MUST learn to love crossing that fear threshold…
So many of the toughest things in life create fear.
When I decided to start applying for entry-level marketing jobs with zero experience, there was a huge fear threshold that told me I should never do it.
But I did, I grew my income from $20k to near $80k in my first five or so years, and I helped a company grow from about $2 million to near $7 million and land a spot on Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s fastest-growing private businesses.
When I decided to go after my first freelance client, I had no reason to believe I could write a long-form sales letter.
But I went for it anyway, I issued my now-famous “challenge”. I landed the gig, I beat the control, I got the attention of industry Titan Ken McCarthy, I established myself as a go-to copywriter, I learn high-level marketing testing, I got a project writing a book on testing for Bob Bly, I later connected with AWAI in part because of all of this, and so on, and so on.
Every time I send in a piece of copy to a client, or put a new offer out in the market, it generates a moment of fear.
And yet, that’s exactly how I keep creating win after win, and writing my own ticket using my marketing skills.
The same goes if you’re selling anything, in any media. It’s always a risk. It’s always a challenge. Until you try it, you don’t know if it’ll work. And if it doesn’t work, it can sometimes mean you’re out a whole wad of cash (or, your client is out a wad of cash because of your ineffective marketing).
That’s enough to put anyone into at least a temporary state of panic.
The question is: what do you do in the face of that?
Do you feel the fear, and take action anyway?
Or do you cower in your corner praying that the world will just ignore you? And then look on, with greedy self-pity, and someone else gets the opportunity, the fun, the spoils of a risk rewarded?
You must become comfortable with crossing the fear threshold. You must become comfortable with feeling that fear, and doing whatever it is that’s causing the fear anyway.
Whether it’s approaching a new client, going for a new sale, taking a risk with a big and bold marketing idea, starting that new venture, launching that new campaign, or whatever else.
On the other side of the fear threshold is one of two things.
The first is commonly understood as failure. But failure isn’t failure unless you let it beat you down for good. I think of it as learning. You learn what didn’t work, or what you didn’t like, and you adapt your future actions with that in ind.
The second outcome you could face is triumphant success. Just think, if my kids had never gone down those slides the first couple times, they would have had far less fun and not felt nearly as good about themselves as they did by crossing that fear threshold.
Okay, so that point made, let’s talk about your prospects…
Your prospects have a fear threshold getting in the way of them responding…
This is all the unanswered questions they still have about your product or service.
This is all the points that are still unclear about your offer, what they’re going to get, and what they are committing to.
This is all the times they’ve been burned in the past by marketers who’ve over-promised and under-delivered.
This is all the times they’ve tried and failed to get the result you promised, and the shame they feel about those past failures.
This is the justification they’re going to have to make to their friends, families, and loved ones on why they responded to your offer.
This is the fear they’re going to get burned by a guarantee you won’t stand behind or a risk-reversal that doesn’t hold up.
This is any little doubt or objection they have that remains unresolved through your selling messages.
Your role in selling (including marketing) isn’t just to get them excited about the benefits that are available to them through the offer you’re making.
Your role is to help them cross the fear threshold. Your role is to help them work through all the negative feelings they have.
Just imagine if I’d just sat there telling my kids that those slides are fun, they could have fun going down the slides, look other kids are having fun, too!
If you have kids or know any, you know that in most cases, that wouldn’t work. It takes something more.
I had to tell them it was okay. I had to take away the risk. And then, I had to physically help them down the slides the first few times, until they got the hang of it.
How can you do that with your marketing and selling processes?
Where can you help your prospects cross the fear threshold?
(Maybe setting the example yourself, through your own behavior, is one good way — so when you do it for your customers, you do so with integrity…)
Before we wrap, another quick reminder…
Earlier today I posted the Jake Hoffberg Masters of Response interview to the BTMSinsiders members site. Click here to join now and you’ll get instant access.
Yesterday I posted the David Garfinkel interview, to early rave reviews. And for the next 9 days, I’ll keep releasing the interviews, one-per-day.
All you have to do to get early and ongoing access it to try your first month of BTMSinsiders.
Last month, members watched an average of nearly six hours of training. For just $37. Even now, there’s probably no better value in training on proven ideas to grow your business. And the catalog (and value) will only continue to grow.
Try your first 30 days at zero risk or obligation today — if you don’t love it within your first month, you can get a prompt and courteous full refund of every penny you paid.
Watch the Jake Hoffberg one tonight — he’s a great example of how quick you can rise to success if you embrace crossing that fear threshold and doing what it takes to succeed.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,