The Ultimate Sales Fuel: Fear Meets Gut Instinct

Tony Hughes

The Ultimate Sales Fuel

There's a scene in a cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where he's preparing to fight the devil so he puts a bunch of protein powder in the blender and then two painkillers and a slice of pizza for good measure. LOL! Classic Arnie...

When I sell there's typically something nagging at my conscience that I'm avoiding. When I start the day there's typically someone I'm afraid to call. Maybe the timing isn't right or they're too senior. Shoulda, woulda, coulda becomes didn't.

Yes, I'm human. But to transcend I use Fear as a guide that points me to what I should do next. Repetition is the mother of skill but it also gives us another profound gift which is the development of 'gut instinct.'

Trust your gut. Let's unpack this because we don't really see gut instinct discussed in many books or blogs because it's our inner dialog, our inner voice and world.

Jack Canfield used to say, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Another one was, "FEAR: future events appearing real."

I thought these two concepts were a bit esoteric and it would serve my audience to bring them to light.

When you sit down at work tomorrow, do not check your email. Write down what you are most afraid to do instead. Granted, this thing is high integrity: moral, ethical, etc. Maybe it is a demon you need to face. Most likely you're procrastinating, overthinking, or trying to be too perfect.


That's really the secret - my gut talks to me throughout the day, an inner voice I trust. It leads me through the deal. I play out 50 chess moves and stay a dozen moves ahead. When the voice is nagging at me or I'm fearful of something, it's probably something I really need to do.

When you look at the company, who intimidates you that could sign? Start there. Call there first. Call and have a conversation. The likelihood they delegate you or you get their executive assistant is 99%.

Put up pricing that is awe inspiring and value based. Don't cave. Be principled in your negotiation.

So what are you afraid of most? Is it your success? Ruffling feathers. Do you think you can hunt for new business and win without stepping on any toes? To make a great omelet you've just gotta break eggs.

Do this experiment: Next time you prospect a company, add a Board Member. Just add them on LinkedIn. Once they add you back, write them a 3 sentence message thanking them and mentioning you'd like to have a quick chat about their thoughts on XYZ. You will be absolutely shocked how few people ever talk to Board Members, VCs, CEOs (yes, there still aren't many on LinkedIn), COOs or CFOs. Yet these folks always get drawn in at the 11th hour to rubber stamp your deal!

A couple pithy quotes come to mind that are super relevant to this post. The late, great Dr. Wayne Dyer used to always say:

"Be independent of the good opinion of other people." - Abraham Maslow


"The fishing is best where the fewest go and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone is aiming for base hits." - Tim Ferriss


So maybe I'm not advocating for throwing painkillers and pizza in the blender and fighting the angel of death. But there's a comedic metaphor in here.

Your inner voice will seldom lie and always knows where to take you. Your compass or North Star will be when you move from selling to make money to serving other people. When you truly, in your heart of hearts are seeking to care and improve the business and lives of everyone you touch, get ready. You are in store to a) start to really enjoy this job and your life and b) be met with a remarkable set of magical circumstances.

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Henry David Thoreau

Things we sellers fear most or Seven Steps To Sales Heaven? Only you can decide.

  1. You are not in client services. You are not going to close an entire enterprise deal without a roller coaster of a decision maker, trial by fire in a committee, groupthink, emotion or crisis mode. They will RFP and reverse auction to squeeze you every time. Who doesn't drive a hard bargain? Don't you!
  2. Of course, you're afraid to dial the CFO, he can torpedo the account, the opportunity and pull it off the forecast. Relish this. Live in reality, not delusion. Qualify out - it's OK. Live in truth.
  3. Your presentation doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, if you are speaking more than 20% of the time while on-site you are only shooting your close rate in the foot. They will know you by the quality of your SPIN questions and listening.
  4. If you're not a team player, management will fire you. Nope. Pipeline cures all ills and top revenue producers are untouchable!
  5. What if I burn out? Burn to shine and you'll never burn out. The harder you push every minute of the job, the faster the time will fly. Burnout is a myth as is work-life balance. When you're at work, prospect incessantly. Communicate with current opportunities, warm leads and drive on into the dark stormy night fearlessly with your fog lights on to slay the dragons of the unknown.
  6. Calling one more time. Calling too many times as to be improper. Calling over someone's head. Why fear any of these?
  7. Pushing back. And the greatest fear of all in sales that separates the titans from the also-rans: walking on the deal. You MUST be willing to walk on every deal. Especially after 6 months of the dance and in the 11th hour with everything riding on it. Always and only negotiate from a position of strength and never let them see you sweat or walk on you!

I don't know what else to tell you. This sales thing violates a lot of psychology. We humans are fearful, sensitive creatures that fear the dark, the unknown and disappointing each other. We relish conformity, abhor rejection and seek the comfort of cliques. This is why I am beginning to think the lone wolf isn't the worst analogy. It travels in packs but gets the hunting done. I'm not saying to be a wolf, but at least unleash the wolf in you: the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Never fear what you will lose. Fear instead only, the opportunity cost of not giving every moment of your sales day and life your absolute all!

As you sell... What do you fear? Where does your gut instinct take you? What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

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Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published on LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award-winning blog. Also, visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at


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