You know that moment on a roller coaster? You are clicking up the enormous starting hill. The view spreads out below. As the car tips into the drop, you are flooded with excitement and terror. This is the feeling of uncertainty; that unique combination of anticipation and fear that becomes positive or negative depending on your focus.

When tipped towards excitement, the fear feels like adventure. A speeding of your heart and a widening of your eyes. When uncertainty tilts to the negative, it is hard to breathe. You experience a wave of heat running across your body and a feeling of dread in your gut.

Many thoughtful people have written and spoken about techniques for harnessing the energy behind uncertainty and applying it in a positive direction. Check out these blogs and Ted Talks to learn more:

When you are a salesperson, there is an expectation of confidence. While everyone feels uncertain at some time, those who go forward with a focus on the positive use that energy to dive into their next great adventure. How can you turn the fear into excitement each time you speak with your prospect or customer? Here are three ideas.

1. Pretend

While people generally believe that our emotions dictate our facial expressions, there is significant evidence that it also works the other way. According to a host of studies, smiling makes people happier and frowning makes them sadder. This simple result tells us that we can affect our emotions by changing our expression. One sales leader has a mirror at her desk and makes sure to smile at her reflection before and during the call. Your customer hears that smile and you feel the physical positive shift from anxiety to enthusiasm.

2. Acknowledge the feeling and reframe it

The next time you feel unsure in anticipation of a conversation with your prospect, take a few breaths and think about how the uncertainty feels in your body. Realize that it is only a feeling. Then consider a different interpretation of that same feeling. A friend told me that, anxiety is simply excitement on hold. Can you skip ahead to the moment of excitement? Does that change how you handle the call?

3. Go forward with confidence in spite of the uncertainty

Sometimes you will be left feeling unsure. In those moments, show up as a professional. Approach your customer conversation as the most important part of your day, which it may be. Focus your energy on that person and move through the conversation with as much positive energy as you can muster. Over time, leading meetings with confidence in the face of uncertainty may help reduce future fear.

Often, whoever shows up with confidence wins. Remember, confidence is less an emotion than a series of choices. Try these techniques and see if they tilt the unknown into a sense of wonder.


Karyn is a sales operations strategist who excels at understanding what makes each client unique and using that insight to create strategies for their desired outcomes. Her goal is a strategic vision with an implementation plan that drives measurable results and exceptional success for each client. Karyn’s specialties include gathering customer input to guide strategy, streamlining sales operations and pulling insights out of data to drive action.