When you walk into a room full of salespeople, what do you smell?  (Besides the level of cleanliness, which is roughly proportional to the sales ticket size.)


Along with being loquacious, assertive, and energetic, a surprising number of salespeople are afraid.  This fear manifests itself in subtle ways.  While on the surface the salesperson is confident, under the surface writhes uncertainty.  What should I do next?  How will my prospect react to me taking a position – any position?  Should I give a price concession now?  Now?  How about now?

The best salespeople I’ve met have conquered this fear and project confidence.  You might be assuming that I mean they project confidence in their person, i.e., self-esteem.  However, the confidence I think is most often missing in salespeople, and the confidence strong salespeople project, is confidence in the product/service being sold.  That confidence is derived from a couple sources, the first being deep knowledge.  Without a comprehensive understanding of the product, the competition, how the products are used, and the customer’s value obtained with the purchase, sales becomes a game of darts.  If you happen to throw the right darts at the wall, you win the sale.  If you don’t, you lose.

Personally, I like darts, but I don’t play it at work.  A few days ago a contractor’s canvasser came to my door to pitch me.  His fear and lack of confidence were noticeable from a distance.  He opened with a quick intro, then jumped into the typical “we just finished a new roof for one of your neighbors” story.  Fine – I’m familiar with this pitch.  But then the canvasser demonstrated his lack of expertise.  He says to me, “Your roof looks pretty new, but have you considered updating your windows…”.  He didn’t finish his sentence because I didn’t let him.  You see, my roof is 15 years old and needs a little TLC.  My windows are 5 years old and look new.  His lack of confidence was justified because he didn’t know what he was talking about.

If you are in sales, particularly if you sell door-to-door, a big part of your success will be expertise.  But that isn’t all.  If pressed, what would you say is the second source of product/service confidence?