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?
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:
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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