Is Your Sales Team Confidence High Enough to Succeed?

Is Your Sales Team Confidence High Enough to Succeed?
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Confidence in Sales
Experienced sales managers know that their sales teams need competence and confidence to succeed. Nothing new or surprising there. Sales team confidence needs to be high. And most salespeople are quite confident that they’re, well, confident.

But do you know just how incredibly important confidence is in selling complex solutions and what positive traits customers ascribe to salespeople who come across as confident?

Here’s a research study from our microlearning experts that we weave into our customized business sales training workshops that answers that question.

The Research
A team at Carnegie-Mellon University set up an experiment in which volunteers tried to guess the weight of people shown in photographs. They were allowed to choose one of four “expert” advisers in making their guesses. The experts presented their advice by saying how likely it was that the people in the photos fell into a given weight range.

The researchers found that the guessers were more likely to take advice from experts who expressed closer to 100% certainty about a weight range. Experts who said, for example, “I’m 95% sure that man weighs between 170 and 175 pounds,” were favored over those who claimed, “I’m 85% sure that man weighs between 170 and 175 pounds.”

So, said the study, the more confident you appear, the more likely people are to see you as a credible expert and trusted business advisor.

But here’s the more interesting part. The research also showed that in successive rounds of the weight-guessing game, even after some of the experts had been shown to be wrong, participants were still more inclined to trust them as long as they continued to express high confidence in their advice.

Wow. This means that confidence can not only convey an impression of expertise, but it can also even take its place. Of course, nobody is saying salespeople should try to trick buyers with displays of phony confidence.

You want to be a real expert, with real conviction, not a pretend one.   In fact, our organizational alignment research found that sales reps with high levels of sales conviction about the value of their offerings outperform their less-convicted peers by 12 percent.

Be an Expert in Your Field
Here’s the point: You should be an expert in your clients and how your offerings differentiate you from the pack.  And should derive great confidence from that expertise when you are in front of your ideal target clients.

Too many salespeople forget that while buyers know their own situation, they often don’t know your unique offering and don’t have insider knowledge of how other businesses have faced similar situations in the past.

You have deep knowledge because you sell your product all the time. Your buyers know that. They need the guidance of an expert salesperson to help them make high-stakes decisions. And, as the research suggests, they’re likely to go with the seller who expresses that expertise with a high level of confidence.

How to Project as the Expert
Here is how to convey the kind of genuine confidence that will establish you as an honest, expert authority in your buyers’ minds.

Consider these action steps to both feel confident and let buyers know you are confident:

  1. Ensure that Your Go-to-Market Strategy is Clear
    Strategic sales clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low sales performance.  If you want to increase the confidence of your sales team, ensure that they understand and believe in your sales plan to win.
  2. Do Your Homework
    Invest the time to do sales pre-call planning so that you are prepared to add value.  Know what matters most to your buyer, their boss, and their organization.  Think of how much more confident you would feel if you could open a conversation by saying, “I saw the recent earnings report and understand that your company will be…”
  3. Ask Smart Questions
    Stay away from “fact-based” questions that your homework could have answered. Ask “priority” questions such as, “Of the challenges you face in achieving your goals, which are you most eager to solve?” Or ask “challenger” questions such as, “What will happen if you don’t achieve your goal?”

    When you ask a well-thought-out series of effective sales questions that go to the buyer’s emotions, you’re saying. “I know what matters most to you in your unique situation, and also what risks you need to mitigate.”
  4. Tell Compelling Client Stories
    Talk honestly about similar companies that had successes, or failures, when pursuing the customer’s goals. When you speak from direct, relevant experience, you sound like an expert and inspire confidence.
  5. Talk Less, Listen More
    Talking too much is a sure sign of a lack of confidence. When people speak loosely and repeat themselves, they sound desperate and unconvincing, not confident.
  6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say, “I Don’t Know”
    You win confidence when you speak from authority. If you can’t answer a question, boldly admit it, and promise to look into it and report back with the correct answer.

The Bottom Line
Sales team confidence is more important than most salespeople realize. Evaluate your confidence score from your customer’s point of view. Are you doing all you can to exude the kind of honest, well-earned authority that inspires confidence?

To learn more about how to sell with more confidence, download The Top 30 Most Effective Sales Questions in the Eyes of Your Buyers

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