Direct selling can seem like a dirty word to a business that is afraid to reach out for their customers. However, sometimes that is exactly what you must do.

The Globe And Mail recently considered a dillemma that The Network Hub had to face when it decided it wanted to expand. Are you afraid to sell yourself?

When a client suggested that Minna Van make cold calls to promote her business, the prospect brought chills. “It’s kind of terrifying,” she says.

In the five years since she and two business partners started The Network Hub in Vancouver, they have actively dodged direct sales.

Ms. Van chalks up a big part of her aversion to selling to a fear of rejection. “To some extent, I have ugly baby syndrome, where I’ve invested so much time into my business and what I do that “what do you mean, you don’t like what I do” is a reaction she dreads.

Entrepreneurs may often be bold and risk-taking, but they’re not immune to a fear of selling, says Dr. Derek Hassay, a marketing professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.

Many experience what academics have called “inhibited social contact initiative syndrome” and actively avoid direct sales, he says.

A fear of rejection is just one of many reasons for what he dubs “call reluctance.” Many people, including Ms. Van, dread coming across as pushy or intrusive, while still others are cowed by approaching those they perceive to have greater power, wealth or status.

Stewart Thornhill, a professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ont., says a fear of selling often boils down to a fear of public speaking.

Whatever is behind it, entrepreneurs need to come to terms with their fear of selling if they want to succeed.

Screenshot from The Network Hub

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