Learning Confidence

confidenceLast week, I was invited to be the inaugural speaker at the Vorsight Women’s Leadership Initiative. The group aims to help early and mid-career sales women continue to be successful in Sales. We had a great dialogue around lots of different aspects of sales, mentorship, skill building and career pathing. One question stood out, however, as the most insightful – “What is the biggest difference between successful women sellers and mediocre sellers?” The simple answer is: Confidence.

Across my 20+ years in working in and around sales, I’ve found that people who exude confidence are infinitely more successful than those who have self-doubt. And, I hate to say it, but confidence can outweigh experience in the majority of circumstances. Confident women (and men for that matter) are those who get the new plum territories, are “pushed forward” with promotion or new project opportunities, and who tend to have mentors who advocate for them more aggressively. If you showcase your own self-doubt, then others certainly won’t take a bet on you.

Confidence is developed over time, with experience and ongoing skill building that continues to prop you up. But for those who are trying to figure out how to become more confident day-to-day, here are a few suggestions:

  • Create your own Board of Directors. There’s a lot of talk about the value of mentors, and they can be extremely powerful connections. But don’t forget about the power of others: your current and former leaders and colleagues, cross-functional advocates, and even peers. Because they know you, they can offer career guidance, give you honest feedback and help you continue to be great. It’s powerful when you think about a team of support, as opposed to somehow banking on the power of one person. HBRand Inc. have articles on this.
  • As cliché as it sounds, just practice. In some cases, maybe you can take a class to build your skills. In other instances, you may need to simply practice, smartly and behind the scenes, to perfect your craft and build your confidence in mastering that skill. “Perfect practice” with feedback from a manager or coach, peers, or even a mirror can certainly give you the repetitions needed to continue to improve a presentation, handle objections or even approach a negotiation.
  • Proactively work on your weaknesses. We all have them, but don’t forget that you are in control of overcoming them. Be honest about your opportunities for improvement – are they real or perceived? Is it a big lift or a little one? Tackle these issues head on, and work with your BoD to help focus efforts to build your credentials and overcome the weaknesses. Inc. has an article that says more practice isn’t necessarily the right approach. It’s worth a read.
  • Check out Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on the Power Pose. 20 minutes will go a long way in helping you to create a deeper understanding of non-verbal cues that lead to perceptions of confidence: And the power pose really does work.

Have more to add on the topic of confidence? We’d love to hear from you.

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