A younger lady once asked me while I was on my way to speak at a church in Accra ‘so how does it feel like travelling to different places to speak? Hmmm I wish I could do that too’ She looked away rather sadly as she asked. I asked her ‘what’s stopping you?’ and she said to me, ‘I lack confidence’ I replied with a smile, ‘actually confidence is one of the easiest thing to gain if you really really really want it.’
OK, it is probably not that easy but like most things, you can get it if you really want. Before I go on, ask yourself how badly you want to be a more confident person in whatever area you find yourself. Because trust me, if you do not want it that badly, you cannot commit to it.
Here is the thing; I sell training programs and events for a living. Actually, I talk for a living! Some people say I have a ‘sweet mouth’ because I can ‘rap’ people and make them buy whatever I am selling. They think I enjoy selling because I am so good. But I will let you in on one of my secrets ‘selling was really difficult for me’ I told this to my Startup 101 class while I was teaching selling skills and they thought I was lying but it is an absolute truth. Here is yet another secret; I have made a deal with my mind to accept that the only way I can survive is to sell and so whether I am afraid or not my only options are to sell or starve. Now with this mindset, obviously I needed a strategy to gain confidence in selling. Below are three of the strategies I use very frequently to help me gain confidence.
‘Practise makes perfect’ I know I know you have heard this a gazillion times but really it works. I recently heard in a movie ‘practice makes better’ which I think is even better! And if you have ever had to practise how to do anything (which we all have), you know the first attempt is the hardest. Ah the frustration you feel when you get it wrong! But, you try again. Make more mistakes. Try harder, the mistakes never go away do they? However, as you are practising and making all these mistakes, something beautiful is happening as well. Somehow your mind gets used to the routine and it gradually becomes a habit so that you do not really think of your actions, you just do it. This is the strategy I use when I am about to go selling, especially if the client is a high profile one. I practise what I will say, practise answers to possible questions and then pray that God will put the right words into my mouth at the moment of truth.
Learn how to sell
As a matter of fact, we are always selling. Every time we open our mouths to speak, write, act, whatever we do to communicate, we are selling. And like I said, I talk for a living which implies that my clients essentially pay for my words, well more or less. Thank God I recognized early that I needed to invest in learning how to sell if I was going to get anywhere. I have spent money, time and thoughts to continuously sharpen my selling skills. Ziglar on Selling is one great book I will highly recommended. Also a Ghanaian marketing guru called Petra Aba Asamoah has written a book called Sales 101; after selling for over 12 years, you really would want to attend her classes or buy her book at least. See I believe that it is not fair to wish to make a lot of sales of your products and services, and yet not be willing to learn how to make that happen. Serious people learn from those who know. Period.
Do it anyway
My final strategy is the most difficult strategy for me personally. It brings me great reward but can also give me the worst feeling ever if it does not go right. In 2017, one of my mantras was ‘just do it’. After achieving many of the things I needed to achieve in spite of all that were up against me - especially fear and self-doubt - I decided I loved the word ‘do’ so much that it had to appear again in 2018. So I revised the mantra to ‘do it anyway’. I wrote this in my prayer book, right on top of my prayer list throughout the year and hence had no option but to be reminded every day. When fear and self-doubt came knocking (and boy do they keep coming!), I would just say in my head ‘do it anyway’ And you know how I said this mantra has also brought me some of the worst feeling? Well unless you think I am a tree, it hurts like ouch when after all my rap a potential client tells me ‘no, I am not interested’ But has it been totally worth it to ‘do it anyway?’ Yes. Yes. Yes. How else would I have led my team to organize those fabulous events? How else would I have stood and spoken on the wonderful platforms I had during these past years?
To end this, let me just say even the best of the best have confidence issues at some point is their lives. Have you read Becoming Michelle Obama? How about anything on Nelson Mandela? All these people we celebrate and more came to that moment in their lives when they had to make a choice; do it or bolt. Well thank God they chose the former because today we have people to look up to. We are in February 2020 already, like many you have probably set some goals for this year. I have too. One of them is to host 2020 Girls Trip in Singapore, Bali and Dubai. To tell you that this makes me feel uneasy will be an understatement. But you know what, I plan to do it anyway. What about you?
Ama Duncan is an author (https://goo.gl/pv4Y7z ) and Founder of The Fabulous Woman Network