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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Selling Without Fear

Dear Sue: Recently I started a new sales position. I am nervous to make calls, because I am still learning. I am scared that I might say the wrong thing. I do not want to give up.

- Afraid

Sue Says: Most sales people will tell you that they too, were nervous when they first made sales calls. However, when you say that you are afraid of saying the wrong thing and that you want to improve your communication skills, I am not sure just what you mean.

Is it because English is a second language and you lack the vocabulary to say the right thing or because you feel you need to have a polished presentation style and you feel you aren't smooth in your delivery?

It will probably be helpful for you to identify specifically just what your fears are. Once you do that, it will be easier to formulate a plan to help you overcome your fears.

Remember that one of the most important elements in the success of a salesperson is his or her ability to build rapport and be perceived as honest and trusting. No one wants to deal with a polished presenter who makes promises he/she can't keep.

Come prepared to all sales calls. You can help prepare yourself by studying about your service or product, and practicing your presentations. If you are asked a question you can't answer, be honest about it and make a commitment to find and answer -- then follow up as promised.

Become as comfortable as you can with your service or product. People won't scrutinize your words as long as your attitude, tone and manner are sincere and respectful. Be yourself and be your best self -- you're the only one with the qualifications.

Dear Sue: I like my job and the work I do, but I don't particularly care for my boss. I was in this office before he was and although he may be a nice person, I can't stand his style of management. How do I cope and keep my sanity?

- Losing my sanity

Sue Says: It's fairly simple -- leave, or stay and learn to work under his style of management. Once you realize that you aren't imprisoned and that you made the choice to be where you are, it may become a bit easier. Keep in mind that no matter where you work, you are bound to run into people you find difficult to work with, but in order to excel, you'll need to figure out how to work with a variety or personality types and different management styles.

Dear Sue: I just started a new job at a career placement firm. I am 25 years old and feel I dress well. The problem is that I hate to wear stockings and really can't afford many right now. Do I really have to wear them?

- Patty

Sue Says: My initial response is "yes," however, after giving it some thought, I think you ought to ask this question to someone in your company. The answer will depend upon the culture of the firm and any policy they have regarding dress codes and grooming.

Typically I do not recommend going without socks or pantyhose. Most people don't care to see the feet of their coworkers, especially if they are in need of a fresh pedicure.

Dear Sue: I think I work with the nosiest people. After I end a phone conversation, it isn't uncommon for one of my coworkers to ask me who I was speaking with and what we were talking about. This annoys me because some of my calls are personal and nobody's business. What should I do?

- Annoyed

Sue Says: You may be questioned to determine if the call was business related or a personal call. Although being asked about your calls is annoying, if they are business related it shouldn't concern you so much. Try to minimize your personal calls and see if the inquiring stops.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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