Courage before Confidence

Like the chicken and the egg…which comes first? 


Like any symbiotic relationship, one indeed strengthens the other.   When it comes to reasons I hear salespeople giving for not achieving outcomes, “confidence” seems to be reason number one.  Confidence in product knowledge, confidence in understanding customers’ needs, confidence in ability, confidence in self. 

This tends to create a situation where they stop or at least slow down, while they wait.   Wait for confidence to show up because they tell themselves that when they have enough confidence, they’ll take the action they need to.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Confidence, like sales, is dependent on action.  Neither can be achieved by feeling, thinking or belief alone.   And in order to take the action, salespeople need courage.

According to Oxford Dictionary’s definition, “courage is the ability to DO something that frightens one”…….  Note the word DO.  Not think.  Not hope…Do.  In other words: ACT.

In taking action, sales people enable themselves to gather  the information/data/feedback they can use to recalibrate before they take the next iteration of action.  In uncertain times, there will never be a “perfect” moment to:

make that call,

to ask the question,

to build your network,

to connect,

to make the meeting,

to meet on Zoom/Webex/etc.


The time is now…..and now…..and now….


Leaders can support salespeople to build their reservoirs of courage in 5 ways:


ONE: Make planning and preparation part of customer engagement process:

Approaching the right people, at the right time in the right way requires a level of planning. In a time of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) helping your team to build a 90 day contact plan gives them a platform from which to jump into action.  It provides a clear and certain pathway as to who to speak and meet with (targets, prospects, customers and influencers) in the companies you’d like to do business with. 

It clarifies what they need to action in each conversation to progress that opportunity further.  The process of planning is one form of future pacing where they’re able to think the conversation through in their minds first so that the execution is smoother.


TWO: Future pace

Coach your team members to envision how they will feel, what they’ll see and what they’ll hear once they’re on the other side of each successful conversation.

Start with an example of success for them in order for them to associate into and ask them to recall:

How did they feel after that conversation?
What did the prospect/customer say that told them it went well?
What did they notice while they were there?

Now turn to the planned calls ahead and ask them to imagine a successful sales conversation with a particular customer and ask them: 

What would you like them to say?
How will you feel that will tell you it’s been successful?
What are some of the visual cues that tell you it’s going well?


Get them to associate with each of those sensory indicators and encourage them to do this for themselves with EVERY CONVERSATION.  It’s a quick mind movie that will make all of the difference and begins to build a culture of belief and success in the team – especially when the vision and reality are linked.  Sharing examples of this type of success in team meetings is powerful, as each example cements the belief of what is possible when they implement this process.


THREE: Focus on cadence first

If you want your team to reach a new level of confidence, start by increasing their activity levels so they can reach a critical mass of activity that will in turn develop confidence. 

Quantity will lead to quality. (insert the Rudy Model). 


So, start them with something low risk to get their contact rates up.  

For example, you could ask them to simply touch base with new customers to welcome them and get to know them a bit more.  But make the number of calls significant to get them used to the cadence of call patterns.  It’s a rigour around activity that you’re building – like a muscle. 

Set that up first.


FOUR: Then technique

Once you have established a level of activity to maintain, you can then start to work on their technique.

Technique is also dependent on quantity.  Doing something, iterating, doing again, iterating, etc builds technique.  But it takes observation, coaching, feedback, encouragement, focus on what’s working as well as what needs adjusting.  Once they get to a certain level of cadence, technique will improve more easily because confidence will start to show up.  It’s an outcome of activity


FIVE: Then outcomes

When the level of activity is right, the technique is improving, you can then start to focus on driving outcomes.  A function of both technique and cadence, sales outcomes are more easily achievable when sales people believe they’re achievable, and to have that belief, they must have an established pattern of activity.  Similar to muscle memory.  Think of it as teaching someone who’s already running 10kms a day to run a marathon.  It might be a stretch but with technique training, types of training they know they can do it because they didn’t always think they could run 10kms in one stint, let alone 5 times a week. That’s easier than getting someone who’s been a couch potato to believe they can run a marathon.


Get your salespeople active, and remember what you measure gets managed and what you manage gets done.  By following the approach above, you’ll be able to do more with less and for less. 



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