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Take a Swing

The only way to hit it over the fence is to believe that you can.
September 1, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/183156

Confidence is everything in selling--and your overall performance in any aspect of life. It gives you the power to act without worrying whether your actions will be effective.

Take Little League baseball, for example. I remember telling my young son to watch the pitcher on the other team as he warmed up. At one game, all the kids were standing in the dugout holding onto the fence with looks of dread on their faces as they watched the pitcher from the other team throw very fast, wild pitches. Now, here's the funny thing about confidence: Every kid from our team walked up to the plate like he was about to fight Mike Tyson. The pitcher had so much confidence, he had already struck them out in his mind. Since most of the kids stood 5 feet away from the plate, they would never hit the ball.

Baseball is 90 percent mental, and so is selling. Your belief, enthusiasm and confidence in your ability speak volumes to the customer. Here are three keys to building confidence:

1. Activity increases confidence. As soon as I took my son to the field and pitched him hundreds of balls over and over, his confidence increased and carried over into the game. Instead of standing away from the plate, he went right up to it with an attitude that screamed "Give me the ball!"

Activity in selling--cold calls, meetings, other phone activity and anything that will get you in front of decision-makers and closer to a sale--gives you an added edge of confidence that you're moving closer to success.

2. Success breeds success. After a successful cold call, presentation or sale, make more calls! Your enthusiasm and confidence are at their highest when you're on a roll, and they'll be contagious with the next group of people you call. You've started to create your own hitting streak. Let the success of one event immediately be poured into the action of others.

3. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. When we always try to play it safe, we are actually creating a dangerous situation. What really builds our confidence and unique, individual abilities is doing the things we thought we couldn't do--calling on the CEO or owner of a large company who has a reputation as a tough negotiator, asking for deal points that others think you will never get, or simply trying something you've never done before where there's a high risk but huge potential return. When we test ourselves, we come out better every time, even if we don't get what we want. At least we now know what it takes to get there.

Just the other day, my now-13-year-old son's baseball team played against 14- and 15-year-olds. At that age, one or two years makes a huge difference. My son's team didn't win, but I saw a noticeable difference in the focus and performance of each of the 13-year-olds. Stepping out of their comfort zone helped build their confidence, and it will no doubt show in the next game against kids their own age (without beards and goatees)! We will always play up or play down to the competition we encounter.

What it all comes down to is having the courage and confidence to step up to the plate and take action. As George Herman "Babe" Ruth said, "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."