Tightrope Walker

The One Thing All Salespeople Need to Succeed (feat. Aloe Blacc)

What is it that can differentiate success from mediocrity from failure? What enables salespeople to do the tough, but necessary, work needed to get into the winner’s circle? Let’s see if you can figure it out hidden inside these lyrics…

I believe every lie that I ever told
Paid for every heart that I ever stole
I played my cards and I didn’t fold
Well it ain’t that hard when you got soul (this is my world)
Somewhere I heard that life is a test
I been through the worst but I still give my best
God made my mold different from the rest
Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed (this is my world)

Well you can tell everybody
Yeah you can tell everybody
Go ahead and tell everybody
I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man

I got all the answers to your questions
I’ll be the teacher you can be the lesson
I’ll be the preacher you be the confession
I’ll be the quick relief to all your stressin’ (this is my world)
It’s a thin line between love and hate
Is you really real or is you really fake
I’m a soldier standing on my feet
No surrender and I won’t retreat (this is my world)

— “The Man” by Aloe Blacc

I love this song! Great melody, great rhythm, and especially great lyrics! The confidence—the bravado—it takes to speak and believe these words, “God made my mold different from the rest, then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed”, followed by the refrain, “I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man!”, and the background singer always reminding us, “This is my world!”

Confidence is a tremendous asset that can differentiate success from mediocrity from failure.

Some may think that this sort of self-assurance is over-the-top arrogance, but I strongly disagree. As someone who has spent much of his adult life in the profession of sales, I know for certain that confidence is a tremendous asset that can differentiate success from mediocrity from failure. I’ve seen two equally skilled salespeople selling the same product, facing the same market conditions—one brimming with confidence and crushing her numbers, the other lacking confidence and unable to get out of his own way. Similarly, I’ve seen a truly gifted salesperson suffer a few setbacks, lose his confidence, and enter into a death spiral of missed opportunities and blown deals.

Think about the various tasks salespeople do routinely:

  • Prospecting
  • Appointment setting
  • Conducting discovery
  • Presenting
  • Addressing objections
  • Negotiating

Confidence is what enables salespeople to do the tough, but necessary, work needed to get into the winner’s circle.

Every one of these tasks is wrought with opportunity for pain, rejection, and displeasure—not to mention the fact that some of these tasks are downright mundane. Confidence is what enables salespeople to do the tough, but necessary, work needed to get into the winner’s circle. It’s not just about enduring the hard work; it’s about genuinely loving it—relishing in the moment because you have such confidence in your abilities and your company’s services.

Let’s look at some specific ways that confidence manifests itself in the work of successful salespeople:

Prospecting with confidence

Confidence - TelephoneWhether you are in inside sales or outside sales, all salespeople spend some degree of time on the phone prospecting, appointment setting, and following up on previous interactions. Wouldn’t it be great if every time you dialed a number the person with whom you wanted to speak answered? In reality, most dials result in reaching voicemail, a gatekeeper, or no answer at all. Confidence is knowing that it takes “x” many dials to get through to that live, interested prospect and once you do you are well underway to making a sale—so you keep dialing.

Conducting discovery with confidence

Discovery—asking questions to learn more about your prospect’s situation and potential needs—can help you establish rapport and is key to uncovering sales opportunities. But what if your questions generate answers that you don’t understand or for which you’re not prepared? What if your discovery clarifies no possible fit for your company’s solution? I have actually seen sales reps circumvent discovery for these reasons. Confidence is knowing that discovery always ends positively—I’m either going to uncover a sales opportunity or determine that no sales opportunity exists. Either way, I’ve accomplished something very important.

Addressing objections with confidence

Confidence - Difficult customerNothing can frustrate a salesperson more than a challenging customer—one who is constantly poking holes in your assertions, asking tough questions, exposing weaknesses in your product, or espousing the virtues of your competitor’s solution. As a result, many salespeople try to avoid such people and they try to insulate themselves with those who are always more agreeable. Hopefully you see the problem with this approach. Just because someone is skeptical doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you. In fact, many times your biggest champion is someone who was initially skeptical. And just because someone is “nice” doesn’t mean they will buy from you. In fact, often they will fail to tell you that you don’t have a shot at making a sale, even long after they reached that decision. Confidence is an eagerness to face a prospect’s objections because you recognize it as another opportunity for you to demonstrate value and turn a skeptic into an advocate.

Negotiating with confidence

Confidence - NegotiationHammering out the fine points of the deal—negotiating price, terms and conditions—isn’t a task for the fainthearted. Customers always tend to ask for more than you are able to deliver. They’re not being unrealistic or unfair (hopefully!), they’re being smart—ever hear the expression, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for”? Confidence is the ability to stand firm on certain deal points and wisely yield on others—and the wisdom to know when to do which.

Exuding confidence

Not only is confidence obvious, but it is also infectious.

Lastly, confidence is as observable as any physical trait, such as the color of your eyes or length of your hair. Most often when a salesperson is advising the customer to make a new purchase, she is asking the customer to take a leap of faith and trust her recommendation. If the salesperson is not confident in her product’s ability to perform as promised or to solve the customer’s problem, why would the customer ever pull the trigger? Not only is confidence obvious, but it is also infectious. A salesperson who is brimming with confidence can inspire his customer to pull the trigger now as opposed to waiting for more data to justify the purchase.

So, the next time that you are preparing to make a sales call, whether by picking up the phone, knocking on a new door, or stepping into a familiar lobby, I encourage you to take a minute to cue up Aloe Blacc in your playlist and give yourself a confidence shot—sing with me now, “I got all the answers to your questions; I’ll be the teacher, you can be the lesson…I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man!”

Header image by Noel Reynolds on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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