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Olsen on Sales: Projecting Confidence

Sales is a transfer of emotion and (sales) life is a mirror, so any emotion we project to our customers will be absorbed and felt by them.

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Sales is a transfer of emotion and (sales) life is a mirror, so any emotion we project to our customers will be absorbed and felt by them.

Many sellers are uncomfortable with the sales process. They are so afraid of being all the bad things attributed to poor salespeople (pushy, greedy, talk too much, insincere, arrogant, etc.), they talk and carry themselves as second-class citizens and get treated as such. These salespeople don’t understand they are inviting, almost demanding this poor treatment. The human animal is very intuitive and sensitive to these vibes/emotions proJames Olsenjected by poor salespeople. They are affected by them, and the crazy thing is they can’t help it.

These emotions and feelings are aroused in the “fight or flight” area of the human brain; they are involuntary. The good news is the opposite is also true. If we can project a calm, confident self, we will imbue our customers with these same feelings—and they can’t help it!

Smile. Most of us aren’t natural smilers. We can smile, but most of the time when we are talking normally, we don’t smile. I am not talking about a “Bozo-the-Clown” type of smile, just a slight smile. Imagine you just sold 20 loads on your last call, and you are going to sell 20 on the next. How would you act if it were true? This is how we should act in the sales process. (For those of you who are natural smilers—keep it up.)

Pace. In 25 years of coaching sales, I’ve never had to tell a student to pick up the pace, while most of my students talk too fast and some talk way too fast.

Why do we talk too fast? Because we are nervous or (too) driven. We conquer our nerves by preparing our calls. What are we going to say, when and how are we going to say it? Then we practice until we feel comfortable. If talking fast is just our nature, we have to prepare, practice and work on slowing down.

When we talk too fast a few things happen:

(1) We make the customer nervous.

(2) We create mistrust (i.e., “Why are they talking so fast? What are they hiding?”).

(3) Lack of connection. When we talk too fast it sends the (emotional) message that we don’t care, which is easy to say no to.

Volume. We normally want to match our customer’s pace and volume. At the same time, we want to speak loud enough to be understood.

Tone. What is a confident tone? No wavering in the voice. No filler words: say what we mean and mean what we say. Calmness.

We want to speak from the diaphragm, not from the throat. This will give us a fuller, more resonant tone, which inspires confidence.

In-Person Selling. In-person selling has all the challenges of phone sales and more.

Dress. We are in the “love at first sight” business and first impressions last—good and bad. We humans judge each other quickly—rapport is built or not, in the first 14 seconds. I started wearing a coat and tie about 10 years ago. The difference in treatment from customers to students was night and day. I would prefer jeans, sandals and Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts, but my kid can’t eat my preferences for breakfast.

I have advised many of my clients to at least wear a sports coat and they always come back and tell me, “Man, that sports coat thing really works!” For my female clients I tell them to do the same; better to dress up a little than dress down a little.

Handshake. Look customers in the eye, with a slight smile, then a firm (not crushing) web-to-web handshake.

Humor. Humor projects confidence. Who do we laugh with? Our friends. Humor will help our customers feel more relaxed with us. As with all power tools, we must be careful when we use them. Humor is delicate so I’d keep to simple, corny stupid humor. It’s safe and relaxing.

Our customers feed off of our emotions and how we project them. We want to be calm, confident and happy in our dealings with customers. We want them to know we care about them, we are confident in our solution, and they should be also.