I’ve been thinking about what makes salespeople successful a lot lately. One thing has been made very clear to me: Confidence is key. Think about the last time you accomplished something critical to your job. Maybe it was a project, speech, sales call, or business trip. What was your mindset prior to executing the task? Was it focused? Was there a belief that you could do it, and do it well?
I grew up a Bay Area sports fan, so I’ll use a basketball reference to put this idea into context: Steph Curry never goes up to the free throw line thinking he is going to miss. He walks with his shoulders upright carrying the utmost determination that he is going to sink the shot – and then he does. Curry isn’t the only NBA star with this assurance – every professional athlete carries that same mindset, and it happens for a reason. They trust in the prior work they have put in at the gym, during practice and in competition. So, when it comes time to execute a pitch, a pass, or an at-bat, there is nothing to think about but execution.
This same philosophy definitely applies to sales. That said, confidence can be hard to build, especially when you’re just starting out. If you lack confidence, there is good news: It is something you can absolutely improve upon. Here are some confidence-boosting ideas to get you started:
Become an Expert
The most important lesson I learned in college was not how to do regression analysis or details about the Civil War. I don’t want to discount these studies, as they are very important for other career paths. But when it comes to sales, I had to share what being an expert means to me.
Or to put it more simply: If you are selling, how can a customer trust you if you don’t sound like an expert? Over the past few months I purchased a new car, and I’ve been focused on what made me eventually narrow down my selection. I started by doing a bunch of research on what cars I would like, then made a couple of inquiries. I spoke with a variety of vendors, both private and commercial.
I ended up finding my car through a private party, and eventually realized the tipping point for me was who I was buying from. His name was Mako and he knew everything about my new Hyundai. Every detail was covered in his pitch: the mileage, who previously owned the car, a detailed timeline of the car’s services, and how it compared to similar models. He provided me valuable information that I could not find online, and did it in a respectful and consultative way in line with what I was looking for. Just by knowing the answer to every question I had about the car he gained my trust, and I ended up buying. Whatever you’re selling, becoming an expert is a must-do and will give you the confidence to go forward and close that deal!
Create the Right Confidence
Naturally, confidence comes in many forms. I strongly believe there is a certain type of confidence it takes to execute a great sale. I don’t have a name for it, but I can certainly describe it.
After you become an expert on what you are selling, you can tell if a potential customer is a good fit usually after spending 15 minutes of discovery with them. Once you determine your service or product is a fit for the prospective client, you can now rely on your expertise to try and close that deal. I’m all about taking a consultative approach to selling – you must ride the foundation of expertise to guide the buyer step-by-step on how you can specifically help them.
The best salespeople are often storytellers and weave the stories into their cycles.
If you work in SaaS like I do, it’s likely your product or service can solve a multitude of challenges. It’s also likely that your solution or service can’t help a prospect with ALL the problems he or she faces. Pay attention to detail during the discovery call and really dig in on that problem that you know you can help with. This is where the right confidence comes into play. For example, I like to use the prospect’s own words to drive urgency. “You said you struggle with X,Y,Z problems right now, I can help you with those problems with (product/service) right now and here is how.”
Forget features for a second, sell the solution to their problem, and let them know how companies just like theirs are seeing success today. The best salespeople are often storytellers and weave the stories into their cycles. “You remind me of customer X who I onboarded last month, they sit in the same space as you and struggled with X,Y, and Z. Here is how we have helped them … ” Selling with use cases is the most relevant way to connect with customers and sell confidently, especially since you can ride the success your current customers are already experiencing!
If you can’t tell, I’m passionate about sales and what it takes to succeed. Please reach out on Twitter @jackveronin or email firstname.lastname@example.org to strike up a conversation, I am always open to learning new sales perspectives.