Many professionals consider themselves very confident. Many others will say they feel they lack confidence. It is better to think of confidence, not as a trait you were born with or acquired earlier in life, but rather the sense you have, at this moment, that you are ready to succeed.
Knowing what your products are and what each one does is crucial for every form of knowledge work. Confidence in persuasion comes not only from knowing your product(s), but also knowing your customers or audience, and, of course, knowing yourself. You build confidence as part of preparation, then demonstrate it when you present. Make eye contact. Speak deliberately, being mindful of how your words are received. Exude confidence that your product knowledge is wide and deep enough to answer questions, overcome objections, and explain the product fully when the time comes.
If done correctly, practice produces confidence. The best practice of rehearsing has already been discussed. If you were going to perform in a play, you probably wouldn’t want to walk on stage without rehearsing first. Tests and presentations are performances too, often with much more at stake than looking prepared in a play. We are really talking about practice. The age-old adage, practice makes perfect, is true throughout life, as every business consultant who thrives on “dry runs” for client presentations can attest.
You also build confidence by setting the stage, as, for example, in this set of ideas for outside sales.
Review the buyer's personal information and the notes from last sale. This information should be listed on the account card. Plan your warm-up.
Review your objective and pre-written plan.
Check up from the neck up! Looking good? Got everything?
Take a quick visual inventory.
Greet the buyer, conduct a quick warm-up and excuse yourself to conduct an inventory. While taking an inventory be sure to re-merchandise and straighten. If applicable, use inventory control sheets to log product counts and make notes.
After conducting the inventory, walk the store looking for new opportunities. Look for space to establish presentation real estate.
Formulate a master plan. What to show first, what concepts to emphasize.
Establish an "I'm okay, you're okay" relationship. Take as much time as needed to get your customer is ready to move into a selling/business situation. Solid preparation means an established rhythm and routine of your day, week and month. A well-planned, well-understood routine builds confidence. Depending on the context you are working in, there are some basic concepts that nearly always apply.
Pre-Plan: fail to plan - plan to fail. Plan your call cycle, plan your week, plan your day, plan your sale and you will succeed.
Be ready with samples and demonstrations. Always bring your full sample arsenal into an appointment because you never know where the presentation may go. Even if you are selling software, be ready to do a quick demo if the situation warrants it.
Present the entire selection: Don’t prejudge. Take inventory and ask for reorders first. Then move into presenting everyday goods (both old and new) before presenting seasonal products. It is not about what is new, it is about what retails.
“Oh, by the way:” Always have an item/concept to present to the buyer once the sale is complete, presenting a product at the end of your presentation works if the buyer is more receptive once they believe the sale is over.