In last week’s article, I talked about “creeping self-doubt.” This week, we have a related-but-broader topic: confidence.
The events of 2020 have rattled many professionals’ confidence, yet confidence is an important prerequisite for business and personal success.
I’ve been thinking about confidence lately and the role it plays in our success. On countless occasions, I have seen sales reps who have less experience, less education and less professional “polish” outperform seasoned sales reps, who at least on paper, ought to be superior. Generally, there are three variables that explain this dichotomy. Two of them are discipline and work ethic. The third is confidence.
Confidence can make up for deficiencies in other areas. If you would like to boost your own confidence or the confidence of a sales rep on your team, read on…
Attitude – Top producers studiously abide by three words: responsibility, authority and accountability. They accept total responsibility for their lives and careers, they know they have the authority to carry out their responsibilities, and they are 100-percent accountable for whatever happens. If they succeed, they graciously accept credit and never chalk it up to “luck.” If they screw up, they take full responsibility even if they got a raw deal.
They never blame, and they refuse to be victims. They never discount what they have accomplished. Rather than being guilty about the success they’ve enjoyed, they’re grateful. Rather than allowing external circumstances to be an excuse for failure, they choose to overcome them.
If you make a commitment to living your life with this responsibility-authority-accountability mindset, it will do wonders for your confidence over the long term.
Initiative – Confident people take the initiative. They are proactive and don’t wait around for someone to give them “permission” to do things.
If this is not a natural trait for you, choose one thing you have wanted to do but have put off. Decide to do just that one thing, but do it “all in.” After you complete it, assess how it went. Think about what you learned. Then take the initiative to do another thing, perhaps a little more outside your comfort zone. Then do it again and again…
Start small – As you’re taking the initiative, start small. A small risk is easier to digest than a big one. As you start to enjoy a string of small victories, you’ll become emboldened to take bigger chances. Your risk tolerance will grow and your comfort zone will balloon.
Practice – Preparation makes you more confident. I recommend playing out in your mind how you will approach a situation and then you can practice. Some people do that in front of a mirror, while others will role play with a friend or colleague. Still others just contemplate it in their minds, envisioning scenarios and playing out future conversations. As you do that, imagine yourself doing a great job. Envision success.
Learning – Be on the lookout for new ideas. Keep on top of things. Stay up on the rumors and intel in your industry and your clients’ industries. Knowledge is power and power gives you more confidence. The more you know, the easier it is to be confident.
Language – If you want to feel more confident when you call cold prospects, work on your message. When you know exactly what you’re going to say and why you’re going to say it before you call a prospect, you’ll feel much less fear of rejection. Sales professionals procrastinate calling cold prospects because they fear rejection. The biggest reason they are rejected is because they don’t have effective, prepared-in-advance messaging they know is effective.
Advice and consultation – To grow your confidence, it helps to have a confidant. You need a trustworthy person (or persons) who will help you grow and develop as a professional.
A couple recommendations come to mind. One is to choose another sales professional to be your accountability partner. The two of you help each other succeed, support each other but are willing to ask each other uncomfortable questions.
Another method is masterminding. A mastermind is a group of smart people who meet regularly to tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. It’s very much peer-to-peer mentoring, and if you join one, you will almost certainly see a marked change in yourself and your business.
In closing, most sales professionals could use at least a little boost to their confidence (even if they won’t admit it). While it is true that some people are just born with more confidence than others, I am 100-percent convinced that you can create your own confidence. I have watched it happen countless times.