Why Sales Reps Need Confidence and Competence


Your sales team has a mix of skillsets and experience levels. Some are really great at connecting with customers, but others lack self-confidence and may underperform. Likewise, some reps are really confident and think they know what they’re doing, but don’t.

With reps at so many different career stages, it’s important to find a solution that works for all of them. Luckily, building confidence and competence go hand in hand. Confident sales reps are more likely to make a strong connection with customers, which of course leads to greater success.

Think of it this way

This may seem like an odd analogy, but just for a moment, think of your reps as your children. You have four: the golden child, an over-confident toddler, an insecure teenager, and a newborn baby. They’re all at different stages in their life, growing at different rates with unique strengths and weaknesses.

The Golden Child

Ah, the golden child. The perfect little angel who can do no wrong. This is your top performing sales rep. The one who exudes confidence, but doesn’t boast; articulates the product without understating its value; and makes the sale with poise and finesse. Fortunately, you won’t have to do much coaching with this rep. But don’t let them forget, there’s always room for improvement.

The Over-Confident Toddler

Like an eager toddler learning to walk, your sales rep is incredibly confident. Yet they lack the actual skills to sell their products. They think they know everything there is to know, but when they’re out in the field, they fall flat on their face. So while it’s great this rep has high self-esteem and is willing to take risks, some serious skill-building may be in order.

The Insecure Teenager

Remember those awkward teenage years full of braces, acne, and uncomfortable dates? We all felt a little insecure about our image and how we’d be judged by our peers. The insecure teenager is a lot like some of your sales reps. They are already good at what they do, but lack the confidence to actually sell their products. CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, Karin Hurt, suggests these seven tips to help build your employees’ self-confidence.

The Newborn

This person is your new hire. They started just a few weeks ago, so this person typically doesn’t have the confidence or experience to effectively sell their products yet. But with time, and lots of coaching and development, they’ll build their skillset and become more confident in their selling ability. Moreover, make employee onboarding memorable in a good way.

How Training Can Help

With all different types of employees, how do you address each of their individual needs? We recommend incorporating a training curriculum that caters to people of all confidence and skill levels. The training should be adaptive to find and fill each rep’s unique knowledge gaps as they progress.

To do this, training should include self-assessment or diagnostic tools that allow you to spot strong and weak performers and identify coaching opportunities. For example, reps could begin with a brief assessment that lets them rank their confidence in certain skill areas. As they progress through the training, their actual performance could be compared against the original confidence ratings.

Don’t Forget Reinforcement

Post training, include some type of reinforcement tool that provides feedback for your reps. We often find that a gamified reinforcement and coaching tool gives reps an edge in selling their products. Make it possible for reps – and their sales managers – to access analytics that show them how well they are performing, what areas they may need coaching on, and where their actual performance may be higher or lower than their stated confidence levels.

Once you diagnose the issue, whether it’s a lack of self-confidence or competence, you can start building towards a team of more fearless, successful sales reps.