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Going from Stage Fright to Stage Fight: Mastering Your Sales Performance Anxiety

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There is always a sudden, awkward realization when you go from being able to completely forget yourself in a situation to becoming hyper-aware. Like jumping out of a hot tub into a New England winter, the shock of the transition can make it hard to even move, let alone think brilliantly on your feet.


This type of performance paralysis can seriously hamper those in the sales industry. When they should be wowing their prospects, they are instead stammering at them and sweating profusely.


The key to dispelling these on-stage fears — whether they hit you during a demo, a presentation, a client meeting, or a sales call — is to become comfortable with yourself and with the material you intend to present. You can accomplish this by trying the following tips and techniques for conquering sales performance anxiety.


Learn to Love You

We all tend to be our own worst critics, especially when anxiety and paranoia set in. The key during these situations is to keep perspective, taking yourself out of your own head.


Firstly, remember that many of our paranoid fantasies — like “What if they realize I never made it out of JV baseball?” — are exercises in narcissism. People are more likely to think about what they are doing for dinner than fret over your life decisions. At the same time, worrying about every last thing can make you forget to focus on the things that matter most, such as your own body language and enthusiasm for your message.


Secondly, you must keep perspective by remembering how you got into this situation in the first place. It may help to create a list of your personal strengths and why you think you would be good at a particular presentation or describing a particular solution. Most people defer to an expert when learning something new, so remain confident that you have your audience’s attention and that they are trusting in you to educate them. Otherwise, they would not have given you a chance in the first place.


Learn to Recover from Mistakes

People with stage experience often learn that mistakes happen all the time during performances; the audience just usually doesn’t notice. When they do, the actors can usually plow ahead to make them forget what they just saw.


You must get to the point where you are so comfortable with your presentations and pitches that a mistake could never slow you down. You can practice in two ways:


  1. Memorize your demo or speech verbatim, and then try to present it in a different genre while using the same information. Imagine how a cheesy 80s infomercial would say it, then try imitating a TED talk, a daytime soap opera or a tipsy friend at a bar. You can even adopt some of these nuances into your end performance. Just no Borat impressions, please.
  2. Try simulating disruptions by writing main points for your presentation on flash cards and then having a colleague replace one of the flashcards with blatantly wrong information. For instance, they can take one card saying “our solution can reduce the time you spend on invoicing in half” and add “while keeping away office lobsters.” Try to incorporate that information smoothly in a “Yes, and…” style while homing back in on your original message.


Rid Yourself of Sales Performance Anxiety with Sales Training Materials

The only way to instill true confidence is to feel comfortable and like an expert on your topic. Practice makes perfect, so take advantage of sales training materials like our webinars and open workshops to never let anxiety slow you down. Banish your performance anxiety once and for all, and turn the jitters into sales success!



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