The True Foundations of Confidence in Sales: Competence and Practice

October 17, 2023

 Confidence is a term that we often throw around without fully understanding its nuances. When we talk about someone being confident, we usually refer to their social confidence—the ability to maintain eye contact, give a compelling presentation, tell a joke, or engage an audience effectively. 

While social confidence is undoubtedly valuable, it’s just one aspect of a more profound, multifaceted concept.

Imagine a socially confident individual being asked to pilot a plane, perform surgery, or navigate a complex sales situation with an unfamiliar client. In these scenarios, their social confidence would likely crumble because they lack the necessary competence. In essence, a confident yet incompetent person can be dangerous, particularly in critical situations. 

The true foundation of confidence is a combination of competence and practice. To foster genuine confidence, individuals must be proficient in their roles and believe in the products or services they offer. Here are some key insights into building this foundational confidence:

  1.     Belief in Your Product or Service: Confidence begins with belief. If you’re selling something you don’t genuinely believe in or that doesn’t offer real value to your customers, it will be challenging to maintain your confidence over the long term. While you might meet short-term goals by reciting scripted lines, true confidence comes from knowing that you are making a positive impact on your customers’ lives.
  1.     Competence Through Structure: To build competence, provide your sales team with a clear and effective sales structure. Whether it’s a four-step process or another framework that suits your business, structure allows individuals to learn and practise their skills systematically. Having a structured approach enables them to navigate various sales situations with confidence.
  1.     Practice Makes Perfect: Salespeople often overlook the importance of practice. Unlike other fields where rigorous training and practice are the norm (think of athletes or musicians), some salespeople believe that every conversation is unique and therefore cannot be prepared for or practised. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Even in unpredictable situations, having a plan and practising different scenarios can greatly enhance one’s confidence.

Consider a scenario where sales team members practise their pitch with colleagues before making calls. This “warm-up” helps them get comfortable with new ideas and approaches. Surprisingly, these individuals reported feeling more successful when they started making calls, thanks to the warm-up session. The takeaway here is clear: practice, even if it initially feels awkward, is essential for building confidence.

Finally, as sales leaders, your role is not just to demand improvement but also to inspire and uplift your team. Rather than constantly pointing out their shortcomings, celebrate their successes and acknowledge their vital role within the company.

Remember that salespeople drive revenue and growth, making them a cornerstone of any successful business.

In conclusion, confidence in sales is not merely about social prowess but the result of competence and practice. 

By believing in the product or service you offer, establishing a structured approach, practising consistently, and celebrating your team’s achievements, you can cultivate a robust foundation of confidence. So, before urging your team to be confident, focus on making them competent, and watch as their confidence naturally flourishes.

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