Confidence Killers That Reps Should Avoid

BY Jessica Helinski
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Confidence is a very valuable trait to have in the sales world. It gives reps the self-​assurance needed to navigate the sales process, as well as instill trust in prospects. “Confidence is a key differentiator between reps who meet or exceed their goals, and those who struggle to gain momentum,” writes Aja Frost for HubSpot. In her article, Frost explains the importance of confidence in the sales profession, and she points out different behaviors that may actually wreak havoc on a rep’s self-assurance. 

Confidence: Why it’s necessary in sales

Salespeople set the tone for the relationship with their own attitude and mood. If they are calm, confident and professional, that will likely rub off on the prospect. But, if the rep is rattled and unsure, you can guess how the prospect is going to feel. “…if the salesperson communicates uncertainty, timidity, or nervousness, prospects doubt their credibility, and consequently, the product’s ability to meet their needs,” Frost explains. 

Reps likely don’t even realize that they are projecting these things, which is where Frost’s advice comes in. She shares seven habits that may be impacting a rep’s confidence level, which in turn is impacting their sales success.

Your words matter

Over-​apologizing. Salespeople must walk a fine line between keeping others happy and being a pushover. Apologizing often becomes a habit in the name of nurturing relationships. But, this is a mistake because it can impact confidence. “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ for trivial mistakes or scenarios that aren’t the rep’s fault makes them seem anxious and insecure,” she explains. Not to mention, it also lessens the impact and significance of a real apology. Before automatically apologizing, take a quick moment to consider whether or not you are truly at fault for anything, or if you are just apologizing out of habit. 

For some clarity, here are some examples of when a rep should and shouldn’t say “I’m sorry”:

  • Do: When they’re slightly late to a call
  • Don’t: When they can’t make the first time the prospect proposes
  • Do: When they renege on a promise
  • Don’t: When they let the buyer know they couldn't secure a discount
  • Do: When they accidentally give the prospect false information that hurts their credibility with their manager
  • Don’t: When they ask a tough question

Using filler words. While filler words like, “um,” “uh,” and “you know” have become a common part of our conversations, they don’t inspire confidence in listeners. They give the impression that the speaker isn’t confident in what they are saying and fumbling to gather and express their thoughts. But, this can be a tough habit to break. First, Frost recommends listening to yourself speak. Record and listen to calls, presentations and anything else that shines a light on how you talk. Then, take note of how many filler words pop up in your dialogues so you’re aware of how often you say them and which ones pop up most. 

Also, when speaking, grant yourself a moment of pause. “Silence might feel unnatural, but it sounds perfectly normal to the listener,” Frost writes. “Taking a breath while they think makes salespeople seem far more poised than saying ‘um’ or ‘ah.'" This subtle shift in speaking will both boost and showcase confidence. 

Don't skimp the prep work

Inadequate call prep. According to SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep study, less than half of sales reps do pre-​call research like reviewing the prospect’s website or preparing discovery questions. This lack of preparation directly impacts a seller’s confidence when they connect with the prospect. “When you try to wing your sales pitch without doing your homework on the prospect, their concerns, or potential objectives they may have, you put yourself in a position to get caught off guard when they raise an objection or ask a question you weren’t prepared to address,” Frost explains. Being caught off-​guard does not present a professional, assured, credible image. What seller wants to purchase from someone like that? The likely answer is not many. 

Adequate research will build up your knowledge of the prospect and their business. This will boost your own self-​assurance and lower the chance you will be caught looking uninformed and unprepared. 

The takeaway: Confidence sells

These actions, along with the others Frost references, can undermine success by chipping away at confidence. And, that diluted self-​assurance will have an impact on sales. Work to eliminate these habits to ensure you aren’t inadvertently damaging your credibility. As Frost points out, “Buyers are often stressed, overwhelmed, and nervous: After all, they’re trying to figure out how to resolve a pressing need or problem.” Be the confident, trusted advisor they need!