Do you suffer with self doubt? Do you feel like an ‘imposter’ in your sales role? Don’t worry – it’s more common than you think…
The sales role gets built up to have an image in which everyone is uber-confident – not a whiff of self doubt in sight. But, the reality I’ve found, is that salespeople are probably full of more self-doubt than the average person. And, why? Well, one reason is that your performance is constantly being monitored and judged – by your customers, by your managers, against your quota, against last year’s performance and so on…
So, how do you manage this self doubt, in a role where you’re expected to exude utter confidence?
Firstly, forget trying to be super confident.
It’s scary to be vulnerable, I get that, however, no one is expecting you to be confident 100% of the time. Where did this idea come from? Because I bet nobody ever told you that you had to be extroverted and confident to succeed in sales. I think a lot of our idea about the ‘stereotypical’ salesperson comes from fiction; from books and movies about salespeople – but that’s all those stereotypes are: fiction.
As soon as we stop trying to present a perfect, unruffled front, we can focus on doing our jobs and our customers, instead of pretending to be something we’re not. (We wrote an article on being an introvert in sales that might be of interest to those of you who are introverts).
Customers don’t expect you to know everything
That’s right: customers don’t expect you to be the oracle on everything – they of course expect you to have a degree of knowledge to guide them in their purchasing process, but they accept if you need to go back and speak to your boss or technical team to clarify something.
The wheels start to come off when you try to give the impression that you do know everything, when you don’t…
People can see through that in an instant, and it destroys all credibility. So own up to what you don’t know and do your best to find out what it is your customer is asking about.
Customers don’t want a sales robot – they want a person
And they get that people aren’t perfect. They’re sometimes late, they sometimes miss things, they make mistakes…
As long as you do your best to rectify things or put in place plans to stop those same mistakes repeating, customers will understand that sometimes everything doesn’t go to plan.
They’re not looking for a robot, if they were, companies would have fired their expensive sales reps long ago and replaced them with AI chatbots. But that doesn’t work, does it?
They want imperfect humans, with personalities, charm, humour, knowledge, perspective and more – to connect with their customers.
Being yourself with your customers means being yourself with colleagues and your boss
In sales, we can sometimes try to keep up a version of ourselves with our colleagues and our bosses too, but that is so exhausting. We don’t all need to dress the same and behave the same. We need to be professional and experts in our field, but that doesn’t mean we all have to say and act the same.
When we join an organisation, we can often try to mould ourselves to fit with that organisation – but sometimes that moulding process goes too far.
We need to retain that vulnerability that makes you you. We need to celebrate our differences because that’s where we bring something different to the table. As Leonard Cohen sang, “there is a crack in everything….and that’s where the light gets in.”