We invest billions in developing the competencies of our sellers. We have endless sales training, product training. We have tools giving them the data and information they need to have meaningful conversations with customers. We have conversational intelligence tools, providing “coaching” to improve their ability to talk to customers. We provide role plays and other tools to help them practice these skills in a “safe” environment.
We do everything we can to develop the competencies of our people in engaging with customers.
And then they get “punched in the face.” *
We try to engage the customer. They haven’t read our scripts, so they don’t know what they should respond. They ask questions we don’t know how to deal with. They don’t care about what we care about, we struggle with what we do. They disagree or have a different point of view.
At some point, we always get “punched in the face.” Despite all the training we’ve had, the tools we leverage, even the preparation; the customer responds in a way we’ve not experienced and don’t know how to handle.
Our confidence is shaken.
Too often, our reaction to this is avoidance. We don’t want to be in the situation. We stop doing these things, we avoid these situations. We may double down on our competencies–more training, more tools.
But the reality is if we don’t build our confidence, if we don’t learn from our failures and think about what we might do differently, we will never achieve what we can/should.
Confidence is built from experience. Learning from our experiences. Confidence is built through acknowledging we will fail, we may get our teeth kicked in. Confidence is built through figuring out how to recover from these occasions, how to pick ourselves up and persevere.
How do we engage a customer that disagrees with what we’ve said?
How do we engage customers that may have different points of view?
How do we engage customers that may be incorrect but not know it?
How do we deal with adversity (not malicious) that we may encounter?
How do we deal with feedback that points out weaknesses?
How do we deal with adversity?
Confidence is not just based on our knowledge and competencies. It’s more about believing in ourselves. It’s a feeling of self assurance, that we can accomplish a task and overcome challenges. It’s about overcoming our uncertainties and any self-doubt.
We develop our confidence not just by developing our competencies, but gaining practical experience in executing them.
From this, we begin to understand our strengths and how we can leverage these more effectively and impactfully.
We begin to understand our weaknesses, learning from our mistakes and how we improve and grow.
We develop our confidence by facing our fears, taking on new challenges and learning from them. We develop our abilities to deal with difficult situations.
We develop our confidence through actual experience, not through puffery and wishful thinking.
We set realistic goals, we don’t expect to be immediately successful just because we have the knowledge and competencies, but know that we have to build our experience in actually applying them. We build our confidence with each small success we encounter as we execute; growing our abilities with more and more experience.
We build our confidence by surrounding ourselves with positive people. Managers that recognize we may fail, but help us learn from them and grow. A company that doesn’t expect perfection, but is more concerned about how we learn and grow from those experiences. Colleagues that share our purpose and passion and encourage us to grow and achieve.
We build our confidence by not taking ourselves to seriously, to have some humor in looking at what’s happened, laugh it off, learn and grow.
Confidence requires resilience.
It’s our jobs as leaders and managers to help build the confidence of our people. It’s our jobs as team mates and colleagues to help each other learn and grow from our experiences. It’s our job as individuals, to recognize our success is not just based on what we know and our competencies, but how we learn from our experience and grow in applying these in what we do every day.
I think much of what we face is less about our competency, and more about our confidence. We need to work, together, in building our shared experiences and confidence.
Afterword: Recognize our customers have a confidence problem, as well. Building their confidence helps build our confidence.
* Remember the esteemed quote from Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth!”
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