Imagine you’re looking for a kitchen renovation contractor. You’ve invited people to come to your home to talk to you about renovating your kitchen.
The first contractor comes in, and you ask him a few questions. He sounds a little uncertain and shuffles through his papers.
When you ask him if it’s possible to drop the ceiling down to make it more cozy he says, “I’m not sure. Maybe. I’ll have to think about that and get back to you.”
The contractor doesn’t come across as confident in his ability to do a good job.
Now, imagine the second contractor comes in and he is very confident. He answers all your questions.
He explains the process he goes through when he renovates a kitchen. He’s able to give you some good ideas right away. He talks with a clear voice and comes across as a very confident person.
Now, all things being equal, both contractors having the same experience, having the same capabilities, their price being about the same, who would you be more inclined to hire?
Well, human nature being what it is, you’ll be more inclined to hire the contractor who has a lot of self-confidence because we want to hire people who are confident.
It makes us feel good. It makes us feel secure that they know what they’re doing. So we’re more likely to hire them.
What is confidence exactly?
Here’s the Webster’s Dictionary definition of confidence: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.
Now, I love that definition because it doesn’t say that you need certain credentials to do something well. And it doesn’t say you need 20 years of experience to be successful.
It simply says you have a feeling or belief you can do something well.
And that feeling and belief is something you can control.
There are many practical things you can do to create the feeling or belief that you can do something well and come across as much more confident.
Now, I find that confidence is particularly important for anybody who sells any kind of professional services: kitchen contractors, advisers, and especially copywriters and writers. I find many writers suffer from lack of confidence, especially when they’re just starting out.
So, if you’re just starting out in the field, there may be lots of reasons why you might not feel as confident as you would like to feel.
For example, let’s say that you are launching a new service with your copywriting business — perhaps you want to start writing white papers.
So you start talking to prospects about your white paper writing services. But maybe you haven’t written a white paper yet.
When you’re talking to them, you may be worried they’re going to ask for a sample, or ask questions that are going to trip you up. These concerns can eat away at your confidence.
All of those concerns are valid. You have to deal with them. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come across as confident.
Because if you’re launching your white paper writing business, chances are you’ve done some preparation already. Perhaps you’ve taken a course and read some books on white papers and you’ve studied white papers.
You may be a lot more capable than you think even if you haven’t written one yet.
Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, there may be situation where you want a client so badly that when you meet them you get all flustered.
There are many different ways a lack of confidence can play out.
But the good news is, there are some practical ways to improve your confidence.
Let me go through some of the practical strategies for boosting your confidence quickly so you’ll come across as more confident when you’re talking to prospects and clients.
#1. Do a reality check
Why is it that you don’t feel as confident as you would like to?
Let’s say, for example, you’re launching your white paper writing services and you’re going to talk to prospects about white paper writing.
Why would you think that you might not be as confident as you could be?
It may be because you feel you don’t have a lot of experience writing white papers.
But look at the reality of the situation. The clients you’re talking to probably don’t have experience writing white papers either.
They may have read some white papers. They may like white papers. They may want a white paper to help promote their business.
But they’ve probably never written one themselves. Even marketing directors of larger companies may have never written a white paper.
So the very fact you’re focusing on white papers and know about white papers actually makes you more of an expert than your clients.
And that’s something worth noting. Even if it’s a new project for you, you may have information your client doesn’t have.
You know about writing white papers, the best practices, what works, and what doesn’t. You know about the format and how to put them together.
And that’s something to be confident about, isn’t it?
So do a reality check. A lot of writers and copywriters just focus on the one negative: “I’ve never written a white paper before.”
Instead, try focusing on the positives — the reasons to be confident.
I remember when I started teaching copywriting, my first gig was a workshop on copywriting to a group of marketing directors. It was more like a presentation because it was only one hour. This was the first time I’d ever taught copywriting to a professional group.
And I was really nervous because I assumed these marketing directors knew a lot about copywriting. It was a talk on writing direct mail, and I assumed they knew a lot about that topic.
I assumed they knew about headlines and formatting and the formulas for writing a direct-mail letter and everything else.
And I did my presentation thinking, “Hey, this is just going to be a good review for them because they know a lot about this stuff.”
But you know what? After I was done, I had one marketing director after another come up to me and say, “I’ve never had someone break down how to write headline effectively like you have, Steve. This is fantastic.”
And someone else came up to me and said, “I didn’t realize there was a formula for writing a successful direct-mail sales letter. The way you broke it down it was perfect. That’s a revelation to me. I had no idea that there is a sequence to writing these things.”
It was almost as if it was all brand-new to them. And these people had a lot of experience managing direct-mail projects, but they weren’t direct-mail copywriters necessarily. They weren’t studying direct mail like I was.
So I had a lot to offer because I knew a lot about writing direct mail. I was more of an expert than they were.
Yet, I didn’t do that presentation with a high degree of confidence because I was focusing on the negative.
I was thinking that these marketing directors would know more than I did but they didn’t.
Instead of worrying about your lack of experience, do a reality check.
Chances are, you know a lot more about what you do and about the different types of projects you write than your clients, and you have a lot to offer.
And that’s something to be confident about.
#2. Position yourself as an equal
This has more to do with attitude than anything else. Always position yourself as an equal. Never get into a situation where you’re treated as an underling or as someone lower down the totem pole.
You need to be treated as an expert or as an equal with your prospects and your clients. And that really depends on you because you teach your clients and prospects how to treat you.
Never act like a temp employee because you’re not a temp employee. You’re not the client’s employee.
You are an equal. You offer a professional business service to your clients. You are on equal footing with them.
When you’re positioned as an equal with your client, then the confidence just comes out naturally.
If you go in the other way and you start using language like, “Gee, Mr. Client, I hope you can hire me. I’ll do a really good job,” that kind attitude, where you’re looking for work, really doesn’t work well.
Always position yourself as an equal.
#3. Be the “brilliant You”
My friend Carol is a very successful freelance writer. And she also teaches and coaches freelance writers. And she tells me that when she’s on the phone with a potential new client, she turns on what she calls “her brilliant Carol.”
She just becomes this persona — a very confident version of herself.
Now, she doesn’t pretend she’s someone she’s not. She simply takes the best qualities of herself and makes sure that she presents those when she’s talking to clients.
She says when the phone call is over, she has to come down from it a little bit. But that tactic can work really well.
I know when I’m on the phone with a client or I’m meeting with a potential client in person, I turn on my “brilliant Steve.”
I will act very confidently and present myself very well and come up with good ideas on the spot.
And also, I’m a very good listener and I’m not afraid to make recommendations to a client even if they’re contrary to what the client may be doing. And these are all manifestations of “brilliant Steve.”
So come up with that for yourself.
Write down some of the ways you act when you’re really confident. And then review that list and try to act those things out when you’re talking with prospects and clients.
Be that very confident version of you even if you have to fake it a little bit.
Remember, you’re not really faking it because this is you. You’re just reminding yourself, “When I’m really confident, this is how I act.”
And trust me, you’ll come across as very confident.
This is probably the easiest and fastest way to come across as more confident. Just act the part until you are more confident.
#4. Don’t pretend to know something you don’t
Have you ever spoken to someone who’s pretending they know something they’re talking about, but you can tell they really don’t?
You can spot it immediately, can’t you? Well, everybody can. Including clients and prospects.
So never get into the trap of pretending you understand what a client is talking about or pretending you have more knowledge on the subject than you do.
Believe me, that can just erode any sense of confidence a client is getting from you.
If you don’t understand what the client is saying or talking about, simply say that. Say, “Mr. Client, excuse me. But I’m not quite following you on this. Could you please explain it to me again? Or could you please explain it to me in lay terms?”
So don’t be afraid to ask that question and stop the conversation and make sure you understand.
Believe me, you’ll get a lot of respect from clients and prospects if you do that.
#5. Create a reminder list
This kind of goes back to number one — doing a reality check — but it’s a more practical application…
A reminder list is a list of credentials you have that you can look at before you talk to a prospect or a client. This list reminds you of your background and experiences and why you are good at what you do.
On that list, for example, you might have these things:
- I’ve taken three professional-level copywriting courses
- Two years’ experience as a copywriter
- Examples of things I’ve written
- I have been told by industry professionals that I am an excellent copywriter
- Three testimonials from happy clients
And you can jot down these credentials and just keep adding them to your list.
When you review your list before you talk to a client or prospect, it can boost your confidence. But also, it’s a nice refresher because you might need to mention some of those things when you’re talking to a potential client.
But, just making that list can make you more confident and can help you present yourself in a more confident manner.
You’re reminding yourself why you should be confident in the first place.
So, those are five practical strategies for coming across as much more confident in a very genuine and authentic way.
If you can do those five things, then the next time you’re talking to a prospect or to a client about hiring you, pricing, or the project you’re working on, you’ll be able to do so with much more confidence.
And when you project yourself in a confident way, then clients and prospects feel confident about working with you.