Sales Training – confidence or competence?

There is little difference between face-to-face selling and skydiving. They terrify most people and rightly so. You are quite literally “putting yourself out there” and if you fail, everyone will know. This failure happens in front of people we don’t know. It is a failure that can not be hidden.

So as a simple thought experiment, let’s think of sales and skydiving as the same thing. An exhilarating experience that can be both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. It requires a lot of courage to jump out of a moving plane and freefall through the air. So what do people need most when skydiving? Confidence or competence? How should you be thinking before jumping into the void? Would you rather be thinking: “Woo hoo! Let’s do this!” or rather “First I need to jump then I need to this then I need to do that, I need to keep an eye on this and hit my target landing spot.”

Confidence and competence are two different things. Confidence is the belief in oneself and one’s abilities, while competence is the ability to perform a task successfully. When it comes to skydiving, both confidence and competence are important. But anytime you jump out of a plane you want competence over confidence – every time.

Confidence is hard to teach and it has its place. It helps to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety. When confident, a person is more likely to enjoy an experience. This also helps to build trust, which is crucial for safety. Psychological safety is not just the key to learning but to any top performance. That is why we go to extra lengths to ensure we teach in a safe environment. We are not talking about just “Can I leave my wallet and laptop here and get a coffee?“. Rather learning in an environment free from thoughts like “Will I get fired if make another mistake?”.

When people feel safe they will reveal things to another person that they would never put in an E-Mail or say on a video call. This is why selling face-to-face is where the heavy-lifting of most B2B sales should take place. Another reason is it is the best and indeed fastest way to tackle the infinite complexity of most B2B interactions – by starting with with a warm handshake and a structured conversation. Here confidence plays a role but as the icing rather than the proverbial cake it’s self.

Competence is also important when skydiving because it ensures that the skydiver knows what they are doing and can perform the necessary tasks correctly. This comes from training and practice. It is why we not only offer an Initial Sales Training (IST) product covering the basics – and – ongoing sales coaching. An added option that few other companies offer.

While Sales without confidence is never going to work. Sales without competence is simply throwing resources at a problem and hoping for the best. An expensive exercise no matter what your budget is; not to mention a waste of time.

With both competence and confidence, skydiving and selling can be thrilling and enjoyable for everyone involved. Yes, even your customers!

Looking for help with your Sales Training and coaching? You can get in touch here.