TeacherSales Confidence Multiplied Through Teaching

Have you ever lost your confidence? No one wants to admit it, but every salesperson has experienced a lack of confidence at one time or another. Perhaps it was just one sales call, or it may have been an extended period due to a sales slump. It doesn’t matter how long it lasts; it’s a terrifying position to be in.

One of the greatest assets you possess is your confidence. Confidence in yourself and confidence in the product or service you are selling. To be truly successful, you must have both. When you have confidence in yourself, but lack belief in your product or service you may come off as arrogant. You can have all the confidence in the world in the product or service you are selling, but if you lack confidence in yourself, your customer will wonder if it’s smart to invest in you. Either way, you lose their trust.

Teaching Sells

How do you build an unshakable belief in what you are selling? Memorizing features and benefits won’t help much at this stage. Authentic confidence comes from proof in how your company has solved problems and helped customers grow their business. It confidently puts you in the position to say, “Don’t only take my word for it; here is an entire library of educational information that shows how we’ve helped other companies like yours.” These teaching moments help you build confidence in yourself and earn the trust of your customer.

Sales reps that have been with the company for years have an abundance of anecdotes to share when faced with common objections. However, new sales reps are expected to contribute fairly quickly, and problem-solving content helps to accelerate the learning curve. In addition, when new market opportunities surface, both new and old reps need content that validates your company’s strength in addressing those new opportunities

While Features and Benefits Peddlers Struggle, Experts Are Welcome

Your marketing team strives to build a library filled with problem-solving, educational content to share with your prospects. This education-first approach is very different from the traditional features and benefits pitch. It’s an approach that positions you as an expert, an educator, and a curator of information.

Before you say, “Being nice isn’t going to help me make my numbers,” remember this: The door is always open to the expert. Being an educator first earns you the opportunity to have the sales conversation.

Access to specific proof—industry analysis, white papers and how-to guides—helps you teach, which builds your confidence. And being resourceful helps you quickly build trust and credibility with the customer.

Using Content To Build Customer Trust

Helping customers identify that they have a problem they need to fix, or making them aware there is a new operational industry standard is part of your role in the educational phase of the buyer’s journey. By using content (supplied by your marketing department) that highlights these problems and their solution(s), you position yourself as a valuable source of information for your customer.

Then, once the customer is past the research and data collection phase of the buyer’s journey, they want validation and specifics. They’re past the learning phase and are focused on issues surrounding application and implementation with questions like:

  • Does your solution address their problem?
  • How complex is the implementation process and what resources do they need for success?
  • What is the ramp-up time and what training is available?
  • How smoothly your product or service will integrate with their other systems.
  • What impact this purchase will have on other departments.

Again, they don’t just want your word for it. They want to see proof. Imagine how their confidence in you increases when every time they ask you a question, you have the proof they need at your fingertips. The customer wants to know what the implementation process will be … no problem, you have a couple case studies that highlight just that issue. And not just any case studies. Case studies of customers with similar resources, or customers with the same existing systems that need integration.

In a complex sale, your contact is not the only person making a decision. When you have an extensive content marketing library at your disposal, you can put information in your contact’s hands to answer all the questions his or her colleagues are asking. You are steadily building confidence in the decision to purchase.

Content is meant to be a tool in your arsenal—a tool that helps you teach and build confidence, trust, and credibility. Work with your marketing department to ensure you have all the tools you need. Start the conversation by sharing this article with them. Then schedule a time to sit down together and identify any holes your content library might have.

Content will never replace your personal value to a customer, but filling content holes is a surefire way to bridge confidence gaps, both your own and the customer’s in yourself. When you can present documented authoritative answers to buyer problems, your confidence has nowhere to go but up.

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Photo courtesy of Roberto Verzo via Flickr.

Jeff Leo Herrmann

About Jeff Leo Herrmann

With a commitment to constant learning, leadership development, and teaching, I am fortunate to have a live laboratory to experiment in every day as the Chief Strategy Officer of Fathom and Show Runner for our content platform, Creating Your Unfair Advantage.Living at the intersection of Content Marketing and Social Selling enables me to be a resource to both Sales Executives and CMOs alike because I understand the dynamics of their relationship.You won't find a bigger content marketing zealot with an intense belief that brands are better off engaging their audiences with educational and entertaining content instead of blasting them with massive traditional advertising campaigns. This perspective is well informed after a 15-year career at The Nielsen Company spent in audience measurement and advertising effectiveness.As a Boomerang back to NE Ohio after 15 years split between Chicago and New York, and my time on the speaker-circut presenting in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Barcelona, Munich and Milan, I have an intense appreciation for work-life synergy and the power of virtual work environments. I am also thankful for the analytical rigor of my MBA program at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.

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