As a senior in high school my team suffered a tough loss in the divisional championship game that should have punched our ticket to state. The game was on Saturday and we had to come back Monday to play the third-place team to defend our right to go to state. I remember the feeling I had going into that game Monday afternoon. There was something deep inside of me that wouldn’t even consider the possibility of losing that game. I was full of confidence (not bravado) and belief that we would play our best and win the game.
Confidence in front of a customer comes from practice and preparation. The more encounters you have, the more confident you will be in your approach with the customer. Study your product, know what you are talking about and carefully consider what questions they might ask. It doesn’t take long to think about these things, but these will make all the difference when you are in the spotlight and need to perform.
You can’t be successful if you BS your way through a presentation. Most people will pick up on this sooner or later. If you don’t know, tell them you don’t know and make sure you get back in touch with them with the answer. They will respect this a lot more than you making up something.
Carry yourself like you are a confident person. Sit up straight, look them in the eye, have a firm handshake and thank them for their time. If your parents didn’t teach you those things, then you need to learn on the job. Don’t be a punk.
Don’t worry about the competition
Too many times, I have heard reps bad mouth the other brand or company-how they do things, what is wrong with the product, what they do on the weekend, etc. Instead focus on what is good about your product and what you do well. If you are going to talk about someone else’s product, do it in an offhand way. For example:
You have done your research and you know the coach has met with a competing company rep before you. Because you have done your homework, you know that the rep typically sells a brand that is lower in cost than the product you are going to sell. You know it comes from a company that is not known for quality, but instead for price point. You could go into a list of reasons why their product is bad, however it benefits you to focus on the positives of your brand. Focus on the fact that your product delivers in less time, using cover stitching or has the same colors for a fill in order. Drive that point home without mentioning the fact the other company does not do those things. Talk about your strengths that are your competitor’s weaknesses. If you feel like your customer is not getting it, phrase it as a question: What is the timeline for delivery of brand x uniform?
All this will translate into a more polished and confident you.
Before the basketball game, I didn’t care who we played or what they were going to do. I had practiced for this moment since I could shoot a ball. We won that game in part because some of us were so confident that others began to believe too. If you are confident, customers will believe in you, which will translate to sales.
Are you confident? What gives you confidence going into meet with a customer?