When I asked a new client why he selected me from among the three he had interviewed for presentation training for his team, his answer surprised me. I thought he would say the quality of the programs, my willingness to customize, my methodology, or any of a number of other standard buying criteria. Instead, he answered in two words: “Your confidence. “ He said, “You were so confident, I just knew you could do what we need.” I had forgotten how important a seller’s confidence can be to a buyer. No matter what you sell, what does confidence look like and how do you manifest it?
The Two Essential Confidence Markers
The foundation for confidence comes from two sources. Without these, other factors don't matter.
1.The strength of your convictions. You must believe in your heart of hearts that what you are selling or advocating is of real value to your buyer/listeners. If you don’t, your buyer/listener will immediately sniffthat out, not unlike when you can tell your kid is faking an answer to you. If you are missing that belief, it is probably time to look for another job–or to improve your product until you do believe in it.
Tip: Ask existing clients what they like about your product. Let their positive feedback bolster any shaky reservations you may have about what you are promoting.
2. The strength of your skills. Are you skilled at the sales process? Have you mastered the art and science of presenting? As golf champion Jack Nicklaus said,“Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.”
Tip: Continuously improve your skills. Take a course, get coaching, read. Always be learning from people smarter and better than you are.
Three Additional Confidence Supports
1. Your self-talk. Are you inadvertently weakening your confidence? Do you have “too” issues? Do you think you are personally too “inexperienced, young, unimportant, other?
Tip: Change the script in your head. There will always be someone out there that is older, more experienced, etc. Focus less on them and more on your strengths and value. “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt
3. Your body language and voice. Do you look people in the eye when you speak? Are you enthusiastic as you describe your solutions? Do you speak up with pride and interest or do you mumble and sink into your chair? Are you sure?
Tip: Video yourself. Play it back. Ask yourself, would you buy a used car from you?
4. What you say—or don’t say. Have you eliminated tentative words from your discussions like “maybe, probably, hopefully” which undermine the very value you are describing? Are you able to keep non-words like “um, you know, like, right, okay” at bay, so you don’t muddy up your message and sound immature and unprofessional?
Tip: Watch that video again. Practice pausing rather than using any of the confidence killers you hear in the video.
At the End of the Day
Losing business or support for an idea happens to everyone for any number of reasons, but a lack of confidence in you personally by the buyer should never be the reason. You have control over that.
When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things. Joe Namath
Anne Miller is a leading presentation and demo specialist, speaker, and coach who helps people in high stakes situations win business, sell ideas, and rally others to a cause. For more information and free ebook, visit www.annemiller.com