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noun: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

How many times have we all heard “fake it till you make it”? In fact, I actually lied on my resume to get my first sales job and then when I got it, I freaked out. I had NO idea what I was doing but I knew I wanted to be financially successful so I did what my 21-year-old self thought was “the right thing” to do.

Fast-forward 29 years later and I still remember feeling so scared and lost and never wanting to feel that way again. I hated lying and I hated faking it. I felt so uncomfortable and insecure and as you all know this is not optimal when you are in sales or any business for that matter.

I knew that I was super lucky to have landed this great opportunity and I was committed to not waste it. I started to study all the successful Account Executives at my company and they all had such incredible CONFIDENCE. I made it my life’s mission to figure out where that came from and here is what I discovered…

They were very prepared and knowledgeable. They knew what we did, what we could offer and what the best solution was for client. They also knew all of these same things about our top competitors. They took time to research and prepare before every meeting and asked a lot of questions while they listened and learned.

So that was exactly what I did to make sure that I could become like them. I studied my ass off. I made a conscious decision to become CONFIDENT by being well informed. I secretly thought of myself as an “expert”. I giggle now when I think of my 21-year-old self thinking I was an “expert” but you know what - it worked!

When I would walk into a meeting knowing I had prepared to the best of my ability I started to shed all of the fear I felt. That is when I always felt truly CONFIDENT.

I realized that when I hadn’t done the work to prepare or had chosen to stay out too late for “one last drink” that the old familiar feeling of insecurity would creep up and in order to make it go away I would make the colossal mistake and start to focus on price and try to make the deal that way by cutting into profit.

Although I would sometimes get the deal done, I never felt as good as the other deals and both my company and I didn’t make as much as we should have. I knew deep down exactly why I had given away value because I lacked CONFIDENCE.

Over the 12 years that I spent in Corporate Sales, both as an individual contributor and as a manager & director, I learned that no matter what you are selling CONFIDENCE will help you be more profitable… period.

As my career evolved and I left Corporate to become an entrepreneur in my 30’s my CONFIDENCE was once again tested. I now found myself having to figure everything out on my own. There was no structure or boss to tell me what to do. In the beginning I made many mistakes and allowed others to take advantage of how unprepared I was.

This felt terrible and I struggled to find my way. I would second guess each decision, overthink and drive myself absolutely crazy. There was so much to do and learn. I didn’t know where to start.

Where had all my CONFIDENCE gone where I could walk into a large conference room where every seat was filled with men in suits and give an excellent presentation that I was prepared for and close large profitable deals that felt joyful and even fun?

I knew in order to become successful I would have to learn everything I could about the business that I bought which was a very large 125 seat pizza place that was nestled between two bars on a large University campus. I had grown up in the restaurant business and watched my parents build a very successful business and brand. They were (and still are) experts in what they do. They are CONFIDENT because they were prepared.

How could I apply everything I learned in my Corporate Sales career to sell a $2 slice of pizza to a college student ? Well first I had to learn everything there was to learn about the business. I started from the back and worked my way up. I learned how to do every single job from washing the dishes to making the dough from scratch. I mopped the floors and made thousands of meatballs by hand. I learned the POS system that I had inherited inside out. I built relationships with the providers and had access to the best of the best ingredients.

On Wednesdays we would sell thousands of pizzas al lunch times as the University cafeterias were closed and there were meetings all over campus. One of my fondest memories was that each Wednesday I would cut every single slice of pizza that we sold. I loved it and so did my team.

Most of my staff had worked for the previous owner and in the beginning when I wasn’t CONFIDENT it definitely affected them. Looking back, they were probably like “how is this 5’3 100lb Greek lady that pulls up in her Porsche going to run this massive business?” Who can blame them? They were right but where there is a will there is a way and with focus and determination anything is possible.

By learning and becoming an expert my CONFIDENCE once again was my foundation for increasing profit. In the seven years I owned it I never once discounted one pizza. I knew we had the best product and service and that was that. I donated to charity in order to help but never discounted. My team and I did $1.6 million dollars in sales of a $2 product without selling alcohol.

Once this no longer worked for my family’s lifestyle I was able to successfully exit this business in a private sale that I negotiated without discounting. I was CONFIDENT that this solid business was worth it because I knew everything there was to know about it.

So whether you have a quota in a corporate sales career, you are responsible for a team quota or you are running your own business - the same principles apply. Become an expert in what you are selling because from software to pizza the principles are the same!

Here are some TIPS AND TRICKS on how to build CONFIDENCE to increase profit:

- Being prepared by knowing everything there is to know about what you are selling builds authentic CONFIDENCE.

- Take time to do the work, learn everything you can about what are selling and your top 3 competitors as well.

- Practice, practice, practice. Never stop learning and never stop challenging yourself.

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