Say “Yes” to Confidence, and “No” to Arrogance


During a recent keynote, I made a case for confidence being one of the defining factors of all successful people we know, and I said….

It is their inner belief that they can achieve anything they want to achieve, and enjoy as much success as they wish – however they personally define success.”

The speech prompted several questions at the end including this one …

“I am wondering how best to test for the confidence level you discuss when interviewing prospective sales personnel. (If it has not been clearly demonstrated in past performance records). I believe over-confidence displays itself in cockiness and conceit and that amount of confidence is harmful (to me, my company and the salesperson himself) in the long run. Any thoughts on how to test for the “right” confidence level?”

My response  …

“There is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance (cockiness). Confident people understand the need to continually learn and expand their commercial bandwidth. They understand what they know, but equally recognize what they don’t know. Conversely, arrogant people think they know it all, and as a consequence, don’t know what they don’t know!”

And that really is the point: Crossing that line from confidence to arrogance is so, so easy.

Humility is, in my view, one of the most admirable and rare traits of the truly successful.

The underlying message of this post is this: It really doesn’t matter how good you think you are, there will always be people who are better, and your ambition should be to emulate them.

Even if you think you know everything there is to know about your chosen topic, respect others who know everything there is to know about their chosen topic – being myopic is a very unattractive trait.

Everyone you meet in this world will know something you don’t know – do not be misled by his or her status, because status has no relevance when it comes to wisdom. Some of the most interesting and mind-expanding conversations I have ever had have been with people in very humble situations – they probably couldn’t spell “arrogance” let alone describe it!

The Greatest Barrier to Sales Success Is?

The buyer-seller situation, like any human contact, is an exercise in human relations – the interplay, cause and effect of behaviour by two or more people on each other. In the buyer-seller situation, the seller must be responsible for shaping mutual behaviour – someone has to take the lead. At the start of the relationship, we want it more than they do – well that’s the theory.

What’s the difference between human nature and human relations? It is probably something you haven’t considered before so let me give you a hand:

  • Human nature is the instinctive behaviour that governs action concerned with the self and with self-interest.
  • Human relations are concerned with how we think and act in terms of others‘ interests.

Successful selling demands that human relations are dominant over human nature – but you probably guessed that already.

You may also have heard that selling is not something a salesperson does to a prospect. Selling is something you do with the prospect, in a process of discovery and interaction. This is human relations at work.

Now the interesting bit: The greatest barrier to success in this process is the “Egocentric Predicament”. This consists of being overly and unnecessarily concerned with self. Our ability to be perceptive and concerned about others is inversely proportionate to our self-concern.

When self gets unnecessarily in the way, the fruitful cycle of good human relations stops producing.

The key to understanding and accepting others is to first understand and accept oneself. This starts with the realisation that, rather than strive for an unattainable “I should be “image, we should settle for our real self as “I am”, accepting shortcomings along with strengths.

We should always remember: People buy our product not so much because they understand the product, but because they feel that we understand them. 

There are many effective ways of doing this. The best way to create this kind of buying climate is to transmit on their frequency. This opens their mind to you and makes them willing and eager to listen.

Before I sell my prospect what my prospect buys, I must first see my prospect as they see themselves.”

I Like You Because You Are Like Me

I was chatting to a good pal towards the end of last year and we were discussing the characteristics of effective networkers – and let’s face it, we all need to be effective with our networking activities these days, don’t we? I advanced a theory that I had been ruminating on for some time – “self-disclosure” This is my thinking…

Telling others how you feel and what you think and believe, as well as telling them about your background, is a kind of currency – the currency of self-disclosure. Give out information and usually you will receive a lot back in return.

People swarm, flock and group together by type, background, interests, beliefs, gender, type of work and so on. And one of the most efficient ways to get close to one another is through self-disclosure.

As we begin to experience a powerful common bond, so too does rapport begin. Mutual interests, ideas, values and beliefs are the wrap and weft of social interaction.

Most people like people who are like themselves!

Biographic Matching:

It is rare for two human beings to be together very long before seeking to discover similarities about themselves. This biographic matching can be social or economic, achieved through outlook, education or background, common experiences of the world.

When you match, you reduce resistance by playing down differences while building on similarities.


Once you are matching one another, you can continue to maintain the rhythm you have created by agreeing with one another, seeing from the same point of view. Pacing is a conscious continuation of matching.

When talking, you can pace:

Words that are used

Tone of voice

Language patterns


Body language used

Don’t overdo it – you may be accused of mimicry. Be elegant – your skills should remain unnoticed.


Matching and pacing help you share someone else’s experience and you will begin to know intuitively when it is appropriate to make suggestions, to influence and to lead.


You can also influence behaviour in others by mismatching. It is useful to mismatch when:

You want a meeting to come to an end

You want to conclude a telephone conversation

You need time to think before acting

What you are doing isn’t working

Matching is affecting your mood negatively


Have you noticed how some people seem to be universally liked, trusted and respected? Chances are that they’re also good at networking and developing a wide network of friends, colleagues, allies and useful contacts.

Networking offers you a structured way of making certain that your ideas are effectively exchanged with others.

A final tip: Make yourself known – don’t stand on the edge looking in. Be part of the action!

It’s Time for a New Level of Realism

We are hurtling towards the mid-point in the “selling- season” and as all my clients will confirm at this time of year, I always urge maximum effort: I do not like the “hockey stick” syndrome; you know the one that dictates that we close the most business in the last month of the quarter, or the last quarter of the year.

My preference is to get ahead of the numbers as early as possible, and to come out of the traps flying. There is no room on my teams for those who want to spend the first few months of the New Year either reflecting on their success, or worrying about their disappointments from the previous year.

In sales, as in sport, you are only as good as your next victory!

But it takes courage, and a real sense of realism to focus in on what is probable – not just possible!

This is not a time to be optimistic. We need realistic.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and if you can’t measure your pipeline, then you can’t improve your productivity. There are a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that can be measured, monitored and managed to ensure achievement of sales targets:


Pipeline Opportunities – These should be measured in value and the number of opportunities in the pipeline.

Opportunities by Milestone – Once these milestones and their different probabilities of closing have been calculated, these figures ensure greater accuracy of forecasting.

Average Deal Size – This ensures better focus on larger deals and ideally will increase steadily each year.

Sales Cycle Time – Shortening this can have a huge impact because of the cumulative saved time available for prospecting.

Profitability – Margins can be tracked to ensure that there is sufficient contribution to enable ongoing account handling.

Conversion Ratio – The number of opportunities won and the % of pipeline potential converted.

Finally, do remember that there are no prizes for having an overly pregnant pipeline – the prizes are reserved for closed business, and for the winners!

The reality is that for a number of reasons, 30% of the opportunities currently residing in your pipeline will not happen – do you know which ones they are?

If you weed them out early, you will give yourself so much more time to work on those that will happen.

Just get your head out of the clouds!