Confidence; How Even One Subtle Slip Can Cost You Sales

A new horror movie is being produced called, “The Killer Curse of Skype”. It’s about how coaches and consultants jumped for joy when they could meet face to face with clients, even from half way around the world. But then those same coaches that thought by seeing the faces of their prospects would help them close more deals and build a relationship…actually start getting killed.

Okay, well the getting killed part isn’t literally killed, it really just means that they are potentially killing themselves. How, you ask? The most confident, wisest, even the most experienced professional can’t hide their facial expressions. In this case, the smallest of facial expressions can show a lack of confidence, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it.

When I have the opportunity to coach someone face to face I will often need to spend time working on their marketing strategy, their sales script, and the one piece of the puzzle they didn’t expect, their confidence. Your conscious and subconscious mind can sometimes have a subtle gap in their beliefs. I have watched some of the most polished and professional sales trainers blow a sale by being over confident in their script or message, but lose a sale when they get to some point they aren’t sure of; Such as does this person I’m speaking to have money?

They may move their eyebrows in a way that shows fear. They may wrinkle their forehead and nose as a show of disgust. I’ve even watched someone closing me show stress with a subtle gesture of the biting of the lips when presenting a price to me. By the way, if you’re thinking, what’s the big deal, it was probably only a twitch, I can assure you, that when questioned, the salesperson revealed that was what they were feeling.

So let me explain what the big deal is…your prospect sees it too, but they just might not know what they saw, and why the feel uncomfortable about you. Let me repeat that, your prospect sees even the most subtle facial expression, but may not be able to understand why they don’t have confidence in you. If you have the slightest slip of confidence or air of arrogance, you may be showing it in what Dr. Paul Ekman, the calls micro expressions.

Dr. Ekman is an American psychologist who is a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions. He has created an “atlas of emotions” with more than ten thousand facial expressions, and has gained a reputation as “the best human lie detector in the world”.

I have been fortunate enough to study his work, which my children hate, because I can tell when they’re lying, being deceptive, or hiding something. Many of the top business owners I’ve worked with have told me over and over; “It’s like you see what I’m thinking even before I say anything.” But you don’t have to study Dr. Ekman’s work to know how to detect emotions. You already do it, I’m just hoping this article makes you a little more aware of what you see and helps you no matter what side of the “sales desk” you’re on.

The most fun way to study this is to watch a T.V. series called ‘Lie to Me’.  I took the following description of the show from

‘Lie to Me’ featured Dr. Cal Lightman (the actor Tim Roth), a deception detection expert. Dr. Lightman was based loosely on Paul Ekman; analyzing facial expressions, speech, and involuntary body language, he could read a spectrum of feelings – hidden resentment, sexual attraction, jealousy were easily spotted. Lightman knew his ability was both a blessing and a curse, especially in his personal life where family and friends deceived each other as readily as criminals and strangers do. He and his colleagues in The Lightman Group provided a professional service to government agencies, corporations, and individuals. The team displayed extensive knowledge of micro expressions and the Facial Action Coding System while solving cases. They set out to discover not only if someone was lying, but also to lay bare the motivation for those lies.

The question is not how confident are you but, how confident do you appear to others in your life?

Your level of self-confidence show up in a variety of ways: your behavior, your body language, tone of voice when you speak, what you say, and the words and gesteures you use.

Let me leave you with some comparisons to consider when deciding if you are confident of have a little lower self-esteem than you want. I’ll list 2 thoughts or actions below. #1 is Confident Behavior and #2 is Behavior usually associated with low self-confidence. Then have a conversation with yourself and ask: Do you recognize #1 or #2 in yourself and people around you?

First Comparison;

  1. Doing what you know is right, even if others criticize or make fun of you for it.
  2. Managing your behavior based on what other people think.

Second Comparison:

  1. Are you willing to take risks and maybe even go the extra mile to achieve better result?
  2. Do you prefer staying in your comfort zone (There is no such thing by the way), fear failure, and do you avoid taking risks?

Third comparison:

  1. Admit your mistakes quickly, and learn from them.
  2. Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices. Isn’t this the basis for most sitcoms?

Fourth Comparison:

  1. Waiting for others to praise your coaching, as in give a testimony.
  2. Praising yourself as often as possible to as many people as possible. Sound like any gurus you know?

Fifth Comparison: This one was hard for me.

  1. Accepting compliments courteously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that seminar. I’m happy you liked it.”
  2. Dismissing compliments discourteously. “Oh that seminar was no big deal, anyone could have done it.”

Can you see the negativity with the second answers? Confident people are usually more positive.

The best way to work on your confidence is to …well…work on it! There isn’t a short term answer.

  1. Focus on achieving small, steady goals. If you need help closing sales, speaking in front of groups, or asking for a meeting with the CEO, practice.
  2. Pay attention to ‘how’ others are saying what they are saying, not just what they are saying.
  3. Plus, record yourself when you are presenting. You’d be surprised how often you see yourself making a face and you don’t know why you did.

Leave a Comment