How to show up confidently anywhere (including sales calls!) with Alex Perry
Collin Stewart, CEO
December 5th, 2019
In sales, and in life, there are few traits more important than confidence.
Now, I don’t mean that braggy, over-the-top kind of confidence that still, for some reason, gets attached to the idea of sales professionals. I mean the genuine kind of confidence – the confidence that people exude when they are simply being themselves.
Their true, genuine self.
When you can access that state, and harness it for the betterment of yourself and your job, you can move mountains… and close lots of deals. The only trouble is, showing up confidently, and genuine, is hard to do.
We’re human. We get tired. We get stressed. And we all get bogged down in negativity and detrimental habits from time to time. The trick is: when you recognize your slipping from showing up as your confident self, start working to counter that by engaging with your style, your story, and your standards.
“When I’m talking about confidence or presence with my clients, I’m talking about a holistic view. I like to think of it as a three legged stool – and it includes style, story, and standards. Those three pieces, if you’re going to have a steady stool, you need them all to work in tandem,” says Alex Perry, CEO of Practically Speaking, a consultancy that works with clients of all stripes to improve their public speaking,
“For example, the Kardashians have lots of style, a story, but are lacking some standards. Or, look at Steve Jobs – great standards, great story, lacked a little style. Some of this is in the eye of the beholder, of course. But, there is always someone you know that fits with these criteria, or lack thereof.”
The “style” leg in Perry’s stool analogy consists of numerous elements: how you dress, how you use your words, your tone, your body language, and your facial expressions.
All of these pieces make up your personal style.
And this is where, according to Perry, you can get the most bang for your buck – there are lots of fun tweaks in this realm that can increase how your personal style resonates and is perceived by others.
For example, your body language is an element others see immediately. You can tell immediately how people feel by looking at what their body is saying. So, ask yourself: how are you carrying yourself? How are you standing?
And for the salespeople out there – are you slumped over your desk? Slumped over your phone? Or, are you sitting up tall?
“How you sit can impact how you come across on the phone. If you’re bent over all the time, you’re crushing your diaphragm. If you sit up, you can access a much more commanding tone of voice,” says Perry.
“Remember, so much of this requires little on the financial investment side – lots can be done with simple fixes.”
As for clothes, Perry suggests that one dress for the people you are there to serve. For instance, you can do your job in your pajama pants. But, do you feel your best in your pajama pants? So, dress in a way that fills you with confidence.
Finally, examine your tone. I know, it’s tough – few people are comfortable with how they sound. But, it is instructive to listen to your sales calls, reflect on your tone of voice, and ask yourself: does my tone convey what I want it to convey? Do I sound happy, helpful, and ready to serve my customers?
“Look at your scripts, listen to recordings – mark something on a piece of paper so you know you have to change your voice. Of course, you don’t want to sound too rehearsed or practiced,” says Perry.
“So, gauge other people’s reactions to you. And, if you feel you are overdoing it, then you probably are overdoing it.”
The “story” plank of Perry’s three legged stool refers to one’s personal story.
According to Perry, the best way to use your personal story as a means to connect with others is, simply, to first know your personal story well. In fact, you have to know it well in order to be able to create empathy.
But, you also have to know which parts of your personal story to use at specific times.
For example, if you’re a sales manager and you have some young, hungry salespeople on your team, share with them a story about when you were a young, hungry salesperson. By connecting on that common ground, you can inspire leadership and impart a lesson on how you, perhaps, overcame a difficult professional situation.
If you’re having trouble piecing together your story, or unsure about times when you positively affected others, ask your network.
“Mine the people you have in your life – ask them to help you with moments that you helped them. Ask them to help you fill in the blanks,” says Perry.
“It’s really easy to forget how you affect people, so ask your network. This can be super helpful.”
There is one word of caution, however: try to not “overshare.” It’s easy, sometimes, to get too vulnerable with people we’re talking to,especially if you’ve built a relationship with them. But, you have to remember, to match your storytelling with the situation you find yourself in.
On a sales call, for instance, sharing relevant anecdotes from your personal life can be a great way to foster a connection. But you always have to be cognizant of how far you take that – too much sharing can distract others and, worse yet, put them off you.
(Editor’s note: we had Mike Fiascone, Strategic Account Director at DocuSign, on the pod a while back to discuss his formula for creating superhuman sales reps. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the entire in-depth interview here)
Finally, the “standards” plank of Perry’s three legged stool refers to how you hold, and display, your values.
This final elements is critical – both style and story are important, no doubt, but not like standards. You can have a great story, great style, but if you don’t hold up to your standards, people will think you are full of it.
Every decision you make reflect your standards.
To paint a clear picture of your standards, and understand the expectations you wish to hold yourself to, Perry suggests documenting them in a simple list – and then working towards meeting them either on a daily basis, or on a weekly cadence (it just depends on how frequently you care to review your progress).
Of course, reflecting on the standards you choose to live by can be a very difficult process.
We’re human, after all. We get tired. We get annoyed. We get lazy.
But that’s okay – holding yourself to the bar you have set is a lifelong goal. If you slip up here or there, forgive yourself. And then get back at it; inspiring leadership and work ethic comes from doing what you say you’re going to do.
For example, when you tell a prospect you will follow up with them that day…do you? Or, when you promise an answer to your team about an issue they need clarity on…do you get that answer to the as soon as you can?
This is how great (and genuinely confident) leaders and salespeople are born. They have style. They have a story. And the follow through. Yes, it can be tough, and can require some soul searching.
But it’s worth it. You’ll feel better – and your team will perform better.
For more on Perry’s thoughts on developing genuine confidence and public speaking prowess – including tips on how to use style to build relationships and style mistakes to avoid – check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.