The secret to unbreakable confidence in sales (and life)

by Steli Efti

The one thing most beginning salespeople lack more than anything is the ability to sell with confidence. Being able to confidently deliver your pitch and answer the prospect's objections is one of the most important skills to master on your way to becoming a sales pro.

But where do you get that confidence from if it doesn't come naturally?

In this post, I’ll share with you how anyone can become a confident salesperson and manage any objection with conviction and unshakeable self-assurance.


Managing objections—and many other parts of the sales process—is about transferring confidence. Your prospect has doubts, fears, worries and concerns about your solution. An objection is simply an expression of these doubts and concerns.

Sales is about accomplishing a transfer of confidence. [Tweet this!]

Your job as a sales rep is to transfer the confidence you have in your offer over to them so that they believe in your confidence more than they believe in their doubts.

(For an example of how to powerfully dissolve a seemingly rational objection about security through confidence, watch the video.)

It's not what you say, it's how you say it

One of my earliest ventures, after I was just out of high school, was selling financial services to individuals. I quickly become the top performer in that sales organization and built a team of sales reps.

These were often young and ambitious people with no previous sales experience. So I'd get all of them in a room and do sales training sessions. I taught my reps that in sales it's not about what you say—it's about how you say it. It's not the content, but the delivery.

Everyone nodded in agreement and pretended to understand.

Then I picked up the phone and started cold calling in front of them.

We had this line in our script: "We can save you 5,000 Euros in five years."

When I made the calls, I said: "We can save you five Euros in 5,000 years, all you need to do is blah blah blah."

And I was booking appointments that way, even though the promise I made was completley ridiculous. But because it was delivered confidently, people subconsciously assumed I had said it the other way around.

No matter how nonsensical, if delivered with enough confidence, people will often buy the message. Just watch politicians speak—they have mastered this skill.

Our brains have a strong desire for congruency. If our perceptions conflict with the story in our head, the brain will more often than not make the perception fit the story, not the other way around.

Stabbing people with bananas

There's a popular demonstration of this that's been done in a psychology class. A man jumps up in class and stabs another man with a banana. The other man—who's in on it—has a fake blood package strapped to his body, stumbles to the ground, causing a big red mess. The other man escapes.

Police come to the scene and interview the students who witnessed this.

When questioned, the students describe a knife in much detail—even though what they actually saw was a banana. Their brains just knew that you can't stab someone with a banana, so they just assumed it was a knife. They made the perception match the story.

The right delivery trumps the right words

Let's say your prospect asks you, "Well, your solution looks good, but I'm really concerned about security. How secure is our data with your platform?"

You could answer this question by elaborating the safeguard measures your engineers put into place in much technical detail. But if you're a sales rep, you probably don't understand them—and most prospects won't either.

Instead, you can say this: "I'm glad to ask that question. We have more than 5,000 customers relying on our solution, we send out over 7 million emails every month and our company has received funding from some of the best VC firms in Silicon Valley. What other questions do you have?"

You didn't actually say anything about security but delivered confidently, the prospect's brain will more often than not interpret this as: "All right, I guess he answered the question, so I'll go to the next question."

Confidence is the magic ingredient in managing objections.

But if you're a new and inexperienced sales rep, and you don't have the confidence yet ... what do you do?

The short-term hack to instant confidence

Work with a script, but not because of the words!

I often get challenged on the merits of using a sales script and having a sales objection management document. There’s this never-ending debate going on in the sales community over whether to use a sales script or not.

Opponents often criticize that scripts turn salespeople into trained monkeys.

script

But the purpose of a script isn’t to have reps memorize and recite the words verbatim. It’s about equipping the sales rep with a standard procedure they can access at any time.

Selling is a highly complex skill and like many other highly complex skills, it helps to have these procedures in your repertoire. Just like an aircraft pilot or a surgeon have learned routines and procedures at their disposal to navigate the complexity they face in their jobs.

When you as a sales rep have a simple, concise one or two sentence answer readily available to you at any time, without having to think up an answer on the spot, it frees up your mental RAM to focus on powerfully delivering your message rather than the content of your message.

The real purpose of a sales script is to have a short-term hack for selling confidently when you don't actually feel really confident.

But there’s another, deeper level of building true confidence that you should aspire to if you really want to succeed in sales.

The long-term training plan to build real confidence

That's something you can't do on a mechanical or tactical level. (Although there are little hacks you can build into your day to day life, like this one by Noah Kagan.)

The secret to confidence in sales (and life) is: Success and failure. You need to expose yourself to plenty of both. More than most people dare to. To be truly confident, you need successes. You need to experience the feeling of accomplishing goals and winning in life.

But that’s only the first building block of confidence.

Building genuine, unbreakable confidence requires you to experience massive failure. You need to go through hard times, face tough challenges and take the punches.

unbreakable

Those are the moments where you truly learn about yourself, what you’re made out of and what you’re able to overcome.

You need to go through the struggle that forces you to dig deeper than you ever would voluntarily.  That way, when life throws shit at you, you have the knowledge already within you that you're capable of overcoming this no matter how hard it feels in the moment.

How do you translate this into your life?

Not by messing up your life so you hit rock-bottom. But by taking on bigger challenges, aiming for higher goals and striving to accomplish things you've never dared to attempt.

Inspire yourself to be a better version of yourself every day. And if you need someone else to push you one more inch on any given day, I'm here for you:

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