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How do you build confidence?

Jim Miller, an entertainment industry sales rep, burst into the room. He couldn’t contain himself, “I pitched a client today and actually walked out with a signed deal for $50,000! I couldn’t believe the confidence and the way that it works.”

Confidence is a curious thing. We know it when we see it or hear it. We recognize it when our sales teams have it or when we, as sales people, have lost it. Whether we’re a sales professional, sales manager or CEO, we are desperate to get it and retain it. We can even separate it out from arrogance — the precursor to death rattle for anyone in sales.

Confidence comes from one of two places: a solid plan or a string of successful results. Pretty simple, actually. Not easy. Simple.

People who demonstrate an ability to consistently plan and execute on that plan also typically demonstrate higher levels of confidence than those who don’t. This is especially true for those in sales roles.

Sales people are creators — they have to seek out the market, assess a prospect’s needs and wants, and create a level of trust such that the buyer believes in the solution they are recommending. Sales people need to “see” a pathway to the completion of a selling event, and that means a clear understanding of the sales process from prospecting through follow-up. Any breaks along the way are disruptive to their confidence. It’s similar to walking on a minefield – never knowing if your next step is safe. Like so many other things, we are good at “pieces-parts” of a sales process and are inadequate at others. The result is uncertainty, reluctance and underperformance.

“Rock star” sales people break down the sales process into its component parts and perfect each segment. The result is a certain amount of predictability in their performance and on the reaction of the prospect.

On a macro level, it’s a clear path on the execution of an entire sales plan. We’ve just completed the first month of 2012. NOW is the time to see where the results are in the delivery of the annual plan. Moreover, this analysis is where confidence can really be expanded. Where were the wins? Was it in the number of prospecting calls and overcoming the call-reluctance that we had in the latter part of last year? Was it in achieving a number that had been previously unattainable? Was it in rescuing one account that had decided to change vendors?

Taking an inventory of these winning results can be a significant builder of confidence because — when executed as part of the overall plan — they become part of the historical record and demonstrate to an individual that they can follow through on a commitment they made.

Moreover, the lessons learned can be applied immediately to improve today’s performance. This is the definition of personal power. This confidence is amplified and solidified when the plan and the results are acknowledged by the company’s leadership.

Every organization has a Jim Miller. Develop their confidence by focusing plans and results and they’ll deliver the revenue.

Patrick Morin is the president and COO of BrightHammer, LLC, a team of experts that work directly with company leaders nationwide to develop and implement sales strategy, deliver targeted sales training, and effect sales-oriented culture changes. E-mail him here.


Editor’s note: This item was modified from its previous version to restore the first paragraph.