Basics of Sales: Confidence

Confidence is an essential component to the sales conversation. Success in sales depends highly on it because confidence in yourself and in your product is what makes your customer trust your judgments, your recommendations, and your products. Confidence is what makes you sound knowledgeable and supportive of what you’re selling. Not only this but when you’re confident, it allows your customer to feel confident as well in their decision to buy from you. As you can no doubt imagine, a salesperson who lacks confidence will almost always be met by customers with hesitation and apprehension. Would you be inclined to purchase something from someone who wasn’t sure of what they were talking about? The scope of this essay is to explore ways in which confidence is exuded and additionally practical tips for building confidence.

There are a variety of ways in which confidence is displayed. One half of confidence is in the deliverance of the pitch and the other half is in the content of the pitch. Confidence is very much a matter of tone. It is in speaking in a bold and certain manner as opposed to speaking with apprehension and delay. There are a few ways in which, as a matter of pure style, this can be displayed to a greater degree. For one, absolute or certain statements sound more confident than statements which introduce probability or uncertainty. For example, it sounds more confident to state that model A is the best model than to say that model A is likely the best model. Furthermore, it helps to assert information as factual rather than as opinion, such as saying that model A is the best model as opposed to saying that we believe that model A is the best model. Making certain and absolute statements make for a more confident speech. Apart from monitoring tone and ensuring that all statements are said with certainty, there are other ways in which confidence is shown.

It is also important to avoid breaks in speech and, more-so, to provide reasons for why you’re confident. When “um,” “uh,” or similar breaks are introduced in a pitch, it projects uncertainty and apprehension. It makes us seem less confident with what we’re talking about and, thus, it should be avoided. Another crucial element to exuding confidence is to present the customer with reasons for your confidence. It is one thing to be confident but another matter entirely to back up your confidence with facts: show the customer that the ground you stand on is sturdy. Apart from the features and benefits to the product, it is often helpful to talk yourself up to instill trust in your judgment or to talk up the experiences of other customers who have purchased the product to instill trust in the judgment of others. We may well state that we’re confident because we’ve been doing this for a long time, because we’ve personally purchased and benefited from the product ourselves, or some similar statement that helps assure the customer that we’re knowledgeable and trustworthy on the matter. Alternatively, we may also take the angle of explaining that our happiest customers are the ones who have purchased this product, that this product gets the most recommendations from our customers, or some kind of similar testimony. This shows prospective customers that the product is already tried and tested with great benefit. Altogether, confidence in speech is a matter of managing tone, certainty in statements, avoiding unnecessary breaks in speech, and providing reasons to support your confidence.

It’s one thing to suggest ways in which confidence can be displayed and another thing entirely to actually display it. In application, the conveyance of confidence comes down greatly to practice and to remedying the reasons for a lack of confidence. The more you make certain pitches, the more you speak with customers, and so on, the more you will be able to be confident as you have gained that experience and familiarity with the process. Furthermore, confidence can often be interrupted when we venture into conversational territory that we’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. When you’re new to sales, interviewing customers about their needs can often feel like an interrogation and so it’s difficult to be confident due to that relative discomfort. As we practice the same techniques and situations over and over again, we become more comfortable and are able to be more confident as a result. As we push ourselves further into territory that we find uncomfortable, we’re able to get used to it and be more confident in those situations as a result. Thus, being confident is very much about continually practicing with the situations and techniques that are an essential part of our job as well as pushing ourselves into uncomfortable territory so that we can better navigate it in the future.

Another reason we may lack confidence is because we don’t trust ourselves to fulfill the customer’s needs or find them the solution they’re looking for. This often happens when we’re new to sales or working with new information. Any area where we’re thrown out of our depths and do not immediately have the prerequisite knowledge to answer or fulfill customers requests on the spot will often put us in this situation. When this situation arises, we may falter in our confidence because, in not knowing the information we need to off-hand, we do not trust ourselves in supplying it to the customer. This is really a matter of perspective. Eventually, we will find what information the customer is looking for. We may (and likely will) have to reference the one or many resources we have available and it may take longer to provide that information but, using the same methods above, we can confidently assure the customer that we are going to get them what they’re looking for. It can even help in these situations to assure the customer that we’re actually being incredibly diligent in ensuring that what we’re providing them is accurate and of high quality. As such, even when we’re out of our element, confidence comes from trusting yourself to utilize your resources to meet the customer’s demands.

In conclusion, we can show confidence by managing our tone, being mindful of the way we say things, and by showing that we have good reasons for being confident. We can build confidence by practicing regularly and by identifying and combating our reasons for being unconfident. If all goes well, we’ll be able to make the customer trust our recommendations and to be confident in their decision to purchase our product. Finally, it is worth a mention that this list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of ways to build confidence or ways to display confidence. There are many, many resources out there that will go into far more detail on both matters. Instead, this is to be a preliminary survey of the key ideas in being confident and the more effective considerations I have found in my experience as a salesperson.


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