Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How do I Overcome My Fear of Rejection?

Fear of rejection keeps far too many carpet cleaners from the success they deserve

Hi Steve,

I walked into a locally-owned building materials center (not one of the big box stores) and was talking to the sales guy about lawn mowers. As I was talking with him I was thinking, to myself “I really don’t have time for lawn care,” so I simply asked if he could refer someone who could do my yard work over the summer? It was a nonchalant and casual conversation and yes, I got a referral to a reliable company.

On the way home I was thinking “Why do I make it so hard to strike up a conversation with a business person when I know I just want to ask him or her to refer my carpet cleaning services? Or even worse when I just want to write a quote to clean their business or home? After all, that is when terror really strikes!”

Why don't I just look at it like I did with my lawn? “Do you refer anyone for carpet cleaning?” No? Let me give you some business cards” … and so on. Instead, I mentally make a big deal out of it until I see an opening and then I timidly pounce, but it is a way too complicated of a process!

I know I am missing out on a lot of accounts with these irrational fears. What are your thoughts on the subject? And yes, Steve, I know it is “all in my head!”

-Struggling in Spokane


Ah, yes, Struggling - this dreaded “fear of rejection” keeps far too many carpet cleaners from the success they deserve. But hey, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger! I think all of us face this timidity.

When I analyzed things I realized I had no problem meeting new customers who had called me. In other words, they had started the process and wanted something from me. But when I had to initiate the conversation to ask for (beg?) something from a prospect I felt extremely uncomfortable.

But if you want to be truly successful at anything you must face up to your fears. In fact, it has been well said that “Success is found by those who will do what others won’t.” Given the universal reluctance to sell by the average cleaner and restorer you will clean up big if you can develop your sales skills because most people won’t! Here’s the deal…

If you sincerely want to grow and to retire wealthy from this industry (not everyone does and that is OK), there is no better use of your time in the beginning than face-to-face selling. It is stressful, demanding and scary at first. So that is why many cleaners and restorers fall into the “Since I hate sales I’ll hire my brother-in-law who lost his job at GM to be a salesman for me!” (“BIL” trap!)

Frankly speaking, folks who are willing to “sell” for a carpet cleaner are either newbies or have some personal problems/issues that have kept them from a successful sales career making huge money for a Fortune 500 company! Simply put - the folks that want to sell for you need a job - and there is usually a cause for this! So the odds are great that they will fail and fail miserably in selling for you!

But the real damage with the “BILtrap” is not the money you waste on them. (After all, you probably hired a family member or friend so you could just view the draws you pay them as a gift!) But the real danger is all the accounts they lose while someone more skilled/motivated (Like you!) could have signed these jobs up. I call this problem your “failed opportunity cost” and it is can be huge. So where am I going with this?

In most cleaning and restoration companies (at least up till you hit at least $1 million in sales) the very best sales person for your company will be … you! And yes, I know - you are busy-busy-busy! But doing what? Very likely with the “Dreaded Displacement Activities” - work that may be needed but does NOT contribute to the growth of your company!

So Struggling, here is what I want you to do. Dedicate one morning a week to sales. (I chose Tuesday morning.) Let nothing interfere with your dedicated sales morning. (And yes- the dreaded displacement activities will start sneaking in!) Plan the market sector you plan to focus on each week ahead of time and plot your route geographically in advance. (Remember that drive time is not sales time.)

I do know it is scary marching through an unknown door to face a stranger. So carefully script your opening lines and develop a Commercial Carpet Analysis (CCA) form to help structure your sales calls.

NOTE: You don’t have to come up with the CCA form on your own, Struggling. I’ve already done the heavy lifting for you folks! Just write me at and put the letters “CCA” in the subject line. I’ll e-mail you a Commercial Carpet Analysis Form- for free!

P.S. Of course, all the scripts and forms won’t “work” unless you work! Chuck Violand is famous for saying, “The toughest door to make it through is your own.” And so it is.

Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges!  Your help is on the way!

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