You can spot a confident person a mile away – but do you know how one becomes confident? How confidence is created, nurtured and repaired, when necessary? By its definition, confidence is full trust and belief in your abilities. It’s what carries athletes across the finish line and entrepreneurs to new frontiers. Without it, your sales will surely sink. Building and demonstrating confidence is necessary to open doors and propel a business forward.
Confidence at its Source
Confidence comes from positive experiences. The more often you experience success, the more confidence you will have in completing it successfully in the future. When you are performing a task that you have a high degree of confidence with, the regions of the brain that store positive memories show increased activity and muscle memory. The same person performing a new, unfamiliar task will show increased brain activity where warning, fear and protection messages are stored. Thanks to studies like this one, modern neuroscience has actually proven the age-old adage “practice makes perfect!” This is also similar to how you develop a positive (or negative) attitude.
Studies also show that merely experiencing success can be just as effective in building confidence as personal success. People who had seen demonstrations of the task being completed successfully had higher brain activity in positive memory regions. Those who had not seen the demonstration or who had seen a demonstration of someone failing at the task had higher activity in the warning centers. No surprise, then, that those who had prior exposure also consistently performed better at completing the task. The takeaway: surrounding yourself with confident co-workers is just as critical to your success and your sales team’s success as your own individual confidence.
Confidence in Selling
When thinking about confidence in selling, you have to go back to the definition of confidence: trust. People are more likely to buy from people they trust. In fact, buyers are more than twice as likely to buy from someone they trust over someone they just like, but have not yet built trust with.
Again, recall that confidence comes from positive experience. Increasing the exposure to positive experiences with you and your product will build buyer confidence more quickly. Demonstrating confidence can mean the difference between at least curiosity and instant rejection. On the other hand, demonstrating a lack of confidence decreases exposure to a positive experience.
There are two types of confidence that are key for sales success: confidence in your product and confidence in yourself.
Product confidence comes from knowing that the product or service will deliver on the value promised. The world has yet to experience the perfect product or flawless organization, so there are going to be times when your product confidence may not be “without a doubt.” The most successful sales people acknowledge this and have tools ready to shake off the doubts, then press on.
To build confidence in a product:
- Focus on success. This could mean keeping a list of satisfied customers and case studies.
- Understand the value. Have a process for identifying need and demonstrating how your product solves that need.
- Prepare for objections. Understand the sources of common objections and either prevent them with solid questions or be prepared with tools to overcome them.
- Stay current. Follow industry and market trends. Understand the features and benefits for each product you represent and how they fit those trends.
- Follow the leader. For those newbies with a lot to learn and few positive experiences under their belts, build confidence by choosing a strategy that is proven by others to work. By doing this, you will have the confidence to persist with your strategy even if it doesn’t work as perfectly the first few times.
- Celebrate! Once you have a success, protect and build on confidence by celebrating it.
- Remind yourself that you proved you could do this well, and you will be able to do your next challenging task well, too.
To boost confidence in yourself or those around you:
- Concentrate on performance accomplishments.
- Think about the success of others, particularly of co-workers.
- Use verbal persuasion.
- Picture success with imagery experiences.
- Remember the “feel good” physiological states of success.
- Think positively.
Every sales professional has times when they are unstoppable, ready to handle anything. The same pro will also have days when he or she feels weak or overwhelmed and needs to kick-start their efforts. These five steps help to jumpstart those second types of days, whether confidence is lagging in yourself, your product, or both.
- Concentrate on how your product benefits your clients, not on what it’s doing for you. Visualize people benefiting and remember the people who thanked you for a job well done.
- Perform an attitude check. Whatever has you down will pass faster if you’re busy with productive activity.
- Start small. Do something minor that you know you can do well, like discovery calls to identify contact names for people you’ll want to reach later.
- Remember that the good times are that much sweeter when compared to tough times.
- Do something you have been putting off. Crossing off a long-procrastinated item can make everything else seem easier to tackle.
Remember that confidence shows, so physical presentation is just as important as the positive experiences going through your mind. Posture, stride, tone and eye contact are all indicators of a confident person. And that the fear of rejection is what stops most salespeople from being confident. When you don’t reveal your true, confident self, it’s easy to assume that others won’t see it.
Confidence builds trust. Give clients a reason to trust you and they will.
Jon Anderson is President of Sidehill Consulting and provides hands-on service as an Outsourced VP of Sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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