Blog Posts

Can You Count on the Confidence of Your Sales Team?

February 29, 2024

I have been in business a long time and worked in sales, but I can honestly say that I never hear the topic of confidence discussed within either. Yes, we discuss it outside of the workplace, between trusted friends, but I have never known it to be a topic of conversation at work. And I find it strange because business is very interested in the topic of high performance, human performance is part of it, and confidence is key to both. With confidence, you learn, grow and handle high-pressure situations with ease. Without it, you won’t put yourself in a high-pressure situation in the first place. So you won’t learn, you won’t grow, and you won’t advance– no matter how great your potential! 

Confidence Tips the Performance Balance

If we want to get the best out of our salespeople, get maximum performance from them, and allow them to be the best they can be, we need to start talking confidence.

The confidence word is discussed every day in the field of high-performance sports, recognised as the key lever for competing against the best.  At high level, athletes have similar physical capabilities, but what sets them apart is the mental ones–their inner confidence and ability to deploy it in  high-pressure situations when winning is everything.  This is when confidence tips the performance balance.

We Need to Recognise That Confidence Counts

If we know this in sports, why don’t we know this in business, and especially in sales? Why don’t we talk about confidence? One of the reasons that confidence is not a priority topic in business may be because it is hard to quantify, especially in a field like sales which is driven by numbers. It may be harder to measure than company performance, but it does not mean it is any less important.  

As Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Human performance depends on confidence–our trust in our ability to do something. Without confidence, human performance is relegated to untapped potential. Without confident employees, there is no action and no influence.

This is particularly important when we ask our people to work outside of their comfort zones–where confidence is truly tested. And there is no bigger challenge than in sales.

So how can we get all our sales team acting and leading with confidence?

Start by Talking About Confidence Regularly

The first important step is to start talking about confidence–not like it is something that needs to be brushed under the carpet, but something that ebbs and flows in all human beings and needs to be worked on! The sooner your sales team realises this, the sooner they can start looking for these ebbs and flows in themselves and understanding why they occur and what they can do about them. 

The only difference between confident people and underconfident people is strategies! We need to make sure, therefore, that we have some–for ourselves and our sales team members. We wouldn’t deliver a project without a project plan, so why should we expect maximum human performance without some strategies for the less tangible, but no less critical, areas of mental performance?

Get Ourselves (and Our Sales Teams) Some Confidence Strategies

When confidence issues arise, then we can deploy quick-fix strategies.  

Everyone lacks confidence from time to time, especially when operating out of their comfort zone. When this happens, there are practical things we can do.

You can encourage your salespeople to find confidence strategies from other areas or times of their lives and deploy the same strategies in new situations.

You can lend them your own trust in them through your positivity and language. Tell them that you believe in them and know they can do it, and your belief will be transferred and help them achieve what they didn’t believe was possible.

You can also give your sales team mental rehearsal skills, so they regularly visualise themselves running through the activity with great confidence and handling all obstacles with aplomb. By the time they get to the actual event, the body will materialise what the brain has visualised.

And Ensure We Build Long-Term Confidence Reserves

When your salespeople understand their values and have a sense of purpose, their confidence is contagious. This is deep confidence. Nurturing deep confidence in your team is the secret to their motivation. You can start doing this by understanding what’s important to them and aligning it with what’s important to the team and organisation. 

At the same time, set an ambitious vision that connects emotionally with every single member of your team. Deep confidence, aligned with a vision that attracts it, is a high-performance match made in heaven.  And when supported by strategies for temporary and entirely natural confidence blips, it’s high-performance dynamite!

“Employee Confidence – the new rules of Engagement” looks at Employee Engagement from a whole new level, outlining a complete strategy for engaging people and giving them the Confidence to build a high-performance culture.  There are also thirty practical models and techniques – the “rules” – that can be applied ad-hoc for fast solutions to immediate Engagement opportunities. The book was a finalist in the Leadership category of the Business Book Awards 2019.