The confidence code: How to support tomorrow’s sales leaders

There are people who some might say are “born salespeople.” I don’t buy it.

Sales is a skill that is developed and perfected over time, and the best salespeople will tell you that along the way they had a mentor, cheerleader, or supportive boss or colleague who helped them see something in themselves that maybe they didn’t see.

I have been selling insurance and leading sales teams at insurance companies for the past 20 years, and hands down the most rewarding part of my job is seeing team members step out of their comfort zone and develop confidence in their ability to succeed.

I’m reminded of a quote by business coach Omar Periu: “Sales success comes after you stretch yourself past your limits on a daily basis.”

One of my goals as a sales leader and motivator of a team of salespeople all at varying levels in their careers is to never let my team members get comfortable with where they are today. But that’s not to say they’re on their own or given unattainable goals. It’s critical that each member of a sales team know that they are just that — a member of a team. Each and every one of us are committed to the success of the organization and each know that we’re all in it together.

Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance

With that mindset, individual members of the team become more confident, and that is the secret sauce to sales success. It’s important though that we don’t confuse confidence with arrogance.

Confidence is engaging and likable. Confidence helps build relationships with customers and potential customers and it helps them trust that you know what you’re doing.

Arrogance is off-putting and doesn’t engender the type of conversation and rapport that lead to meaningful relationships and ultimately to successful sales.

Is everybody in the right seat on the bus?

So, how do you help build confidence in your team members?

It starts with putting people in the right role — a role in which they can succeed. If you make a bad hire or move somebody to a role they aren’t suited for, it’s a failure on the part of the leader, not the employee who didn’t thrive in that role.

When I took on the role of leading the sales team at McClone, one of the first things I did was make sure that everybody was on the right seat of the bus. I knew that was going to be key to our success as a team. I moved people into roles that I was confident they’d be successful in and watched some of the team members thrive in new roles and the entire team was better for it.

When you put people in a position where they can succeed and gain confidence, soon you won’t have to push them — they’ll be setting goals for themselves that push them out of their comfort zone. They’ll start realizing what is possible, not only for themselves but for the team and company as well.

When that happens, the employee is motivated, fulfilled, and thriving, the team is operating at peak performance, the company is growing, and everybody is benefiting.

So, no, I don’t buy that good salespeople are born that way. I give credit to the salesperson and the team that supported them, trained them, and gave them the confidence they needed to be successful.

Bill Julius is executive vice president of sales at McClone, an insurance company with offices in Madison and headquarters in the Fox Valley. He has spent more than two decades in sales and leading and motivating sales teams to achieve their goals.

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