Is Your Lack of Self-Confidence Sabotaging Your Sales?
CONFIDENCE. A ten-letter word that holds so much power. The most important sales tool you’ll ever have or need. Precisely why...
CONFIDENCE. A ten-letter word that holds so much power. The most important sales tool you’ll ever have or need. Precisely why it’s so important to cultivate, and be aware of it. And why so many creative and passionate entrepreneurs struggle financially.
The reason is, anyone can feel when you don’t *really* believe in yourself – I mean when you feel like an awkward little duckling in a big pond of voracious alligators – and that often puts people off.
I’ve always known this to be true. In fact, when I first started out as a freelance project manager in 1998, confidence (and a pair of heels) was all I had. I call it confidence now, but looking back I’d say it was mostly naiveté. Not knowing what I was getting myself into (building a business is freakin’ hard) and with absolutely no clue about the MOUNTAIN of things I actually didn’t know anything about. Add a dash of ambition, and a cup of perfectionism and people-pleasing into the mix and you’ve got yourself a workable mix – at least when it comes to landing projects.
Clients responded well to that initial enthusiasm. I was just slightly ahead of the curve with my knowledge of the emerging Internet and my self-taught web development skills. So they hired me. For one project at first, then repeatedly. Projects and business was coming in.
As time went on my knowledge of the work I was doing improved. I gained more and better skills (bye bye Dreamweaver!) and was in charge of increasingly complex projects. After a few years spent trying things out (read: getting totally lost in business land after a few wrong turns) I eventually started my own web agency. I approached it with that same passion, and enthusiasm.
Quickly a list of repeat clients was born.
I’m not going into the details of the type of clients I was attracting, or the promises I was making them – I wasn’t the best judge of budget versus scope back then. That’s for another post (said while writing potential jaw dropping title down in editorial blog planner).
What I want to talk about today is how exhaling confidence was the only tool I had when I started out, and how it allowed me to make money and start a business.
In those early days, whenever I wasn’t confident (didn’t believe in the idea, didn’t understand it, or wasn’t sure I wanted to work with the client) I usually wouldn’t sell. Afterwards I had this nagging feeling that I’d somehow “sabotaged” myself, that I’d not given it my best shot. I was right.
I wouldn’t sell because I wouldn’t fully engage. I wouldn’t show the extend of my capabilities because I wasn’t passionate, because I wouldn’t take the lead during the meeting. Potential clients would doubt my skills, and whether or not I could handle their project. The important lesson here is: it was ME doing it. I was playing the wrong cards unconsciously – but on purpose.
When I became a career coach and business consultant the same principle still held true (well duh!).
In the beginning I didn’t feel confident calling myself a coach. I didn’t have a lot of experience, and the coaching sphere felt really overwhelming. So when I did speak of it, the words that came out of my mouth sounded more like an apology than an enthusiastic claim to greatness. In every single one of those cases I got back what I was sending out: a lack of enthusiasm to work with me, aka absolutely nothing. A few months in, and many failed attempts at trying to land a client this way I decided something had to change. I’d made a commitment to become a coach, I’d studied hard for it, had done all the work. I might as well be PROUD of it.
The next time I spoke to a potential client, I didn’t try to sell her anything. Instead I told her about all the changes my pro bono clients had achieved, the new careers they had transitioned into, the projects they had started. I spoke honestly and with passion, and started dreaming with her about the things she could do and that I could help her achieve. She signed up ON THE SPOT.
Moral of the story? Sales require confidence.
If you don’t believe in yourself and the products or services you offer, you can still make a buck or two, but sell consistently and in a way that feels good? I sincerely doubt it.
The solution? (wouldn’t wanna leave you hanging on a cliff :))
- Practice – as often as you can. With all the enthusiasm you’ve got to offer. Fake it till you make it if you have to.
- Investigate your self-worth: perhaps you need a little confidence boost (there’s plenty of books out there that can help with that like this one, and this one, and this one).
- Don’t sell what you don’t believe in (it doesn’t work anyway). If you’re not sure what you believe in, get clear on your values.
- Take a (free) sales course (again plenty of good options available, but I particularly like this 25 Days to 100K one – thanks Ash for being such a star!)
- Learn from your mistakes. Keep a “lessons learned” list by your bedside.
- Learn from you wins. Keep those on the same list.
- Never stop growing: try something different every day, join a mastermind, go to a sales seminar, or just talk to people.
- Hire a coach 🙂
But most importantly: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
You’ve got this, I promise! Selling doesn’t need to be all eek and yikes. The more confident you’ll get that you have THE solution for a client, the better the process will feel (to both of you). So don’t sell yourself short – pun totally intended – but instead grow that confidence muscle, relax, have a drink and watch as your sales finally take off.