Coaching Communication Skills Motivating People Motivation

Building Self Confidence

The Most Popular Topic in Coaching

The start of any coaching conversation starts with a question. This is followed by more questions. It becomes an exploration. It is about getting to the heart of what somebody desires in their life, their work, their career, business and their relationships with others. I often say to people ‘A coach will ask you questions you don’t often ask yourself.’

It often takes you down avenues you never thought possible. That is the beauty of this type of conversation. So many things can be uncovered and explored in the safety of sacred, safe conversations. Anything is possible when you commit to growing in a coaching conversation.

Where the journey starts

People often decided they want to work with coach. They look to get someone outside, impartial, who has some skills that can help them get clear on some area of their life.  The list varies from a career change, going for a job interview, starting a business, being better at public speaking, a better sales person, a better manager and even a better parent. There is no subject that doesn’t show up for discussion. The reason is simple; you are not just your job, your career or your business. Your life and who you are shows up when you choose to work with a professional. They are just expressions of you. So the questions asked can often be about how you operate in life and it can end up as a conversation about your life.

Why does confidence as a topic show up so much?

As a person who loves noticing patterns and how they shape people’s lives, jobs and self-concept, I started of course to notice a pattern. The single theme that seems to come up over and over is this idea of having more self-confidence to take a risk and do something different. People will say things like “I’d like to have more confidence in myself to do or be X.” Indeed, when you read this question, I am sure you have an area where you’d like a way of building confidence. So let’s look at what that means.

The interesting thing is, people start with a challenge or a desire to change. Once the conversation begins, they begin to get insights into themselves and get to the place of realising that the challenge was a symptom of something else they were seeking, deeper inside themselves.  This can be expressed in many ways; such as feeling more at ease or having the guts to do something they’ve always wanted to do.

Everybody thrives on confidence

“So why can’t I just have confidence?” you might ask. You can! You just have to know how to “do” confidence. Confidence has structure to it. Confidence has reference points to what you have done before. They can be positive or negative. One black-and-white way to look at it is this; you will never try something again because you think you failed the first time.  Or, you will give it a shot and see how it goes, because you learned from it and can improve, if you try it again. There is truth in the ‘fake it until you make it’ idea. The risk-takers and people who look at the options will always give it one more shot. These are the people are more likely to build and expand their confidence. It them becomes the place they function from. And from there, they develop the skill of knowing how to build confidence.

Where does a lack of confidence come from?

Confidence is a multi-layered state, is how I can best describe it.  It’s a combination of knowing enough and believing enough that you can do or be something.  So why does a ‘perceived’ lack of confidence show up in coaching so often and how can you build confidence in yourself? Here are a few things to help you explore your own confidence in areas of your life and why we often find it hard to do confidence. Here are the key things I have noticed.

Using the past as a reference

This is where we did something once. It didn’t go well. We decided we would never do it again. If this is true for you, think of times where you did something similar and felt well-able to do it. An example I have is, a client I was coaching around his leadership skills, which he needed to demonstrate in a second-round group interview. He had completely missed the fact that he had been team captain on the sports pitch for years. He didn’t make the connection unti we had the conversation. Once we captured all he did well there, we translated it across to the group interview, which secured him the job. He was looking in the wrong places and not mapping across his skills to lead a team of men to sporting victories of which there were many.

Using other people’s points of view

This is a big one. What will other people think? Many times we don’t take the risk because we are pleasing some invisible “authority figure” from the past, present or further. This I describe as the judgement of ourselves through the imagined negative judgements of others. I hear this often said to me in a coaching session “you probably think it’s crazy, but…” I don’t, in fact, because I am too busy listening and hearing what you are saying.

What if you dared greatly and tried something new?  At least you gave it a shot. What if you did what other people wouldn’t dare to do? It builds a stock of experiences to create your own reference points of view. An example I give to people when preparing presentations for public speaking is to practice reading aloud to get used to the sound of your own voice. If you have children, even better! You have no excuse then, to at least create your own internal point of view to build that confidence you need in this situation.

Using the fear of failure or losing face

Failure is an interesting concept preceded by the question and conclusion, ‘but what if I fail? I don’t want to fail.’ So question to that is. ‘What if you never try at all? What if you are missing out on a great experience or a new way of being because you were afraid of failure?’  Failure can mean that you didn’t have the skills or resources you needed at them time to make things work. Losing face is rooted in an expectation and functions from a place of perfection. It is about seeking to meet the unrealistic expectations you want others to have of you. A great example is the perfect social media profile; nobody sees the faux pas, the mistakes and the bad days we all have every now and again.

How much more human we would be without these judgements? So the question now is, ‘do you have the confidence to try something and learn that there must be a better way to do it?’ Just like Thomas Edison’s answer to the 10,000 light bulbs experiments. Instead of seeing it as a failure, he learned 9,999 ways ‘not to make a light bulb’. This is a great example of a reframed point of view. If you can reframe failure, your confidence will certainly grow. Do it often and you will be building that confidence-muscle.

Using an outdated perception of yourself

I often ask clients where they got their idea of themselves as not able to do something and who they bought it from. Within reason or course. If you don’t have the right vocal chords to be an opera singer, no amount of confidence is going to change that! We spend our formative years and early working years being given lots of points of view of ourselves. We start to believe them as fixed and immutable.

Everybody can change and does change over the years. So next time you decide that you can’t do something, think about how old that idea of yourself is. Did you get it from a school teacher, a parent, a school friend? People carry fixed ideas of about you and what were like in the past. Are you buying them as being locked into a one-time event or a time in your life when you didn’t have the experiences you have now?  Having the confidence to update who you are and let people see that you have indeed grown and changed is one way to keep recreating a new version of you every day. We all need an upgrade. Ask any software company! This is another way to give yourself more confidence. You have infinite possibilities to change and become more than you are today and next week. You have to keep asking better questions.

Confidence is built over time, but you can tap into it by asking yourself quality questions.

So here are four to consider next time you have that nagging doubt that you don’t have the confidence to take a risk.

  1. What time in my life am I stuck in that stopping me from trying this?
  2. Whose version of success or failure am I functioning from?
  3. What if I took steps to build a pathway for others and show them a way?
  4. What story am I telling myself about not being able to do this?


Want to learn more on about subject? Read this article What does a coach do?

Talk to A Coach

The Sales Outliers e-book

The Sales Outliers e-book

Recent Comments

    Sales Tips Sales Training Tips Selling Skills

    8 Salespeople Characteristics

    8 Sales Behaviours and Personality Traits to to look out for as a Sales Manager

    Let’s try to understand what great salespeople do and why some salespeople fail. As a sales manager this study will help you achieve your sales team targets.

    Analysing your sales team

    When you want to figure out what’s really going in with your sales team, it’s time to look at what they do in front of their customers.

    I am big believer in observing salespeople’s behaviour to see what they have applied and what is not working, especially after investing time in building their sales skills.

    As luck would have, there are researchers out there to help us shine a light on the real problem in getting the sales team to apply the learning and hone their skills, once they leave the sales training room.

    8 Sales Behaviours – The  Best and the Worst

    Researchers Lynette Ryals and Iain Davies observed 800 sales professionals in live sales meetings to understand the gap between investment in sales teams and their performance. They discovered in their research of sales meetings, that 9% of sales meetings end in sales.  So why is that?

    In exploring this, they discovered a set of patterns among the best of them.  It seems that a 1 in 250 salespeople exceed their targets. Well that doesn’t surprise me, when I observe the range of behaviours that we unearth during a sales training course. At the high end we have the experts, closers and consultants, who make most of the sales while the narrators (product sellers), socialisers (relationships builders) and aggressors (pushy sales people) score very low in their sales close rates.

    Here are some great info-graphics to show us what is really going on, courtesy of HBR and the researchers.

    Salespeople Personality Traits – The cream of the crop and the rest…

    Eight selling behaviors were highlighted in the study, of which only three were actually related to sales success and high close rates. By mapping how salespeople defaulted to a particular sales technique and behaviour, they discovered salespeople fell into 8 categories on a quality to performance scale. The top 3 were consistent in closing sales. And made up 37% of the sample. The remaining group of sales people – 63% – under-performed because of their selling behaviours.

    salespeople that close the sales more effectively

    The Sales Outliers are the Best Closers and here’s what makes them a successful Salesperson
    Here’s an infographic of the skills of the three salespeople that close the sales more effectively – Experts, Closers, and Consultants. These formed the Best 37% of the salespeople. The closer each corner of the green heptagon is to the edge of the circle, the more effective the salesperson is at the corresponding behaviour. This is a great study to understand what great salespeople do.

    Experts (9% of salespeople) are good at all seven selling skills; Consultants (15%)  good listeners and problem solvers; and Closers (13%) can pull off big product sales, but their smooth-talking style is less effective when selling services.

    Skills of Salespeople related to Sales Success
    The poorest closers and what they are missing

    The Friend to Everybody #1: The Socializer
    We always think of the best salespeople as extroverted and socially-astute and winners in the selling game.  Based on the research, Socializers score the lowest when it comes to closing the sale.

    Why such salespeople that are Socializers fail?

    Notice the difference in their performance against the aspirational traits and the average of all salespeople. Salespeople that are good Socializers spend way too much time making friends and involving themselves in the buyer’s personal world, instead of staying focused on the result of the meeting, which is to get the buyer closer to making one more decision and closing the sale.

    Salespeople that are Socializers

    The Underachiever in Sales  #2: The Storyteller
    Storytellers have a great ability to illustrate the value by sharing how successful the offering was in the minds of their existing buyers. Often they lose focus on progressing the sale by sharing too much of what is not always relevant to the buyer in front of them. It can bore or turn the buyer off. It’s always about gauging the relevance of the story in the sales conversation.  The positive in all this is, at least their gab focuses on how other clients used the product or solved the problem. Ryals and Davies discovered that much of the buying signals can be lost by focusing too much on past success rather than asking and listening to burning issues relevant to the client sitting in front of them.

    Salespeople as storytellers
    The Product Seller #3: The Narrator
    Narrators rely heavily on their product knowledge, the same sales pitch and the marketing material that is more suited to written communication.  They lack the dynamic approach that bends with the concerns and questions thrown to them by the buyer. If they are not flexible enough, they can come across as unsure and rigid in understanding what the buyer really needs. Product knowledge is a must, but it is not a selling technique to use with inquiring buyers who wants to dig into the value of what’s on offer.

    Salespeople as Narrators
    The Master of Detail  #4: The Focuser
    Focusers, tend to stick rigidly to the formulaic way of presenting and talking about the ins and outs of the technical specs of the product at the expense of listening, probing to figure out what the clients is interested in hearing and to get a sense of the bigger picture in the purchase along with the concerns of key stakeholders. Detailed people miss the buying patterns of the buyer and fail to progress the conversation to a close. They often confuse sharing product knowledge with closing the sale in the buyers mind.

    Salespeople as Focusers

    The Pushy Salesperson #5: The Aggressor
    Aggressors are the least liked of sales people. They drag the selling into the price pit and drive down the price often just to win the sale. They are bad for the seller’s business and for the market they operate in. They can win sales, but often at the price of a long-term relationship or company reputation. They can be unappealing to do business with because their style can often be like a battle with a win/lose dynamic. Somebody always looses in the short term and the company and industry may lose in the long term, driving down the price at the expense of quality.
    Salespeople as Aggressors

    Fixing the Problem by looking at the sales team in the right way
    Ryals and Davies found that too much time in sales training is spent on doing the sales pitch, building rapport and presenting the product. Giving product presentations is not selling. These skills are no longer enough to keep the sales people at the top of their game.  The sale is not made there. So many sales people think they have to know more about the product to get the sale. They don’t. They have to spend more time developing their consulting skills and sales-closing techniques and taking more risks in the sales conversation.

    What is clear about The Experts, Closers and Consultants is their skill in designing and using a more sophisticated and smarter approach to each customer. They have a strategy for their sales meeting. They profile the buying strategies, the have high-quality coaching skills; they ask great questions, they know how to move the conversation from exploration to consulting to closing. Their listening and retention skills allow them to coach their buyers to come to a quality decision by the end of the sales meeting.

    Sales training courses that continue to focus on the standard commodity of opening, closing, overcoming objections is not what the low performers needs. They need the tools to become better at recognizing their behaviour, developing better questioning skills and sales techniques that getting quality outcomes from every sales meeting.


    You may also like to read our ebook, The Sales Outliers, How top People Power Ahead in their Selling Game

    At Zenith Training, we offer sales training courses that can add more dynamic selling skills to improve buyer engagement in each sales meeting. Want to learn more?

    [av_button label=’Find Out about Group Sales Training Courses’ link=’page,1428′ link_target=” size=’medium’ position=’center’ icon_select=’yes’ icon=’ue800′ font=’entypo-fontello’ color=’theme-color’ custom_bg=’#444444′ custom_font=’#ffffff’]

    [av_button label=’Find Out About Private 1-2-1 Sales Training Sessions’ link=’page,1417′ link_target=” size=’small’ position=’center’ icon_select=’yes’ icon=’ue800′ font=’entypo-fontello’ color=’theme-color’ custom_bg=’#444444′ custom_font=’#ffffff’]

    The Sales Outliers e-book

    The Sales Outliers e-book

    Recent Comments