One of the questions I tend to be asked on a reasonably regular basis revolves around the area of ‘confidence’ in various business areas i.e ‘but how do I become more confident in xxxx situation?’ The most common questions in business tend to be ‘how do I become more confident at ‘selling’?’ or
‘how do I become a more confident at ‘presenting’ myself to prospects or groups?’).
When I am working with sales teams on their sales or presentation skills the realisation then becomes that to gain confidence in anything we need to ‘experience’ the activity a number of times and maybe ‘fail’ along the way to gain this ‘confidence’. In reality many people in business (and in life) tend to want the ‘confidence’ first – then they’ll try the experience. Hence why we tend to avoid such things as selling, presentations or public speaking – until we gain the experience which gives us the confidence! (in effect we’re trying to build our business in reverse – waiting for that confidence – which understandably doesn’t work!). What shows up is procrastination or avoidance on the part of the business owner or members of their team which equals poor business performance or business failure.
One of the misconceptions therefore is that forgetting something is actually an important part of success and learning! So if we are ‘selling’ ourselves unless we repeat our actions again and again we will not retain the vital information to improve our sales success!
Now, there’s a little bit of science behind this that may also help you here:
In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus (a German psychologist) published ‘Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology’ regarding his experiments with how we learn and forget information. His most well know finding was the ‘forgetting curve’ or ‘Ebbinghaus Effect’ which, in a nutshell describes that ‘People usually forget 80% or more of what they learn within 30 days. Also, the sharpest decline tending to be within the first twenty minutes, with the curve evening off after about one day’. (see below).
The good news here though is that through repeatedly learning and practising the information we have learnt we will rapidly reinforce our learning experience and therefore our confidence in our ability to execute a task. Consider the simple task of tying your shoelaces: There was a time when you were not at all confident in tying your shoelaces and through repetition you have become so confident in this action that you probably don’t ever even give this a second thought…
Although this is a simple example it also applies to everything we do – how we run our business i.e. our current ‘confidence level’ will reflect the current performance of our business. It will reflect how good we are at ‘selling’ what we do. It will reflect how competent any of your team members are in delivering what they do within your business.
The Ebbinghaus Effect also applies to the most important area of your business. Your existing and potential customers. More specifically how you market and sell to your prospective and existing clients. It has been said that a prospective client will need to be contacted (on average) seven times before they will make their first purchase from you. Another rule of thumb for you to consider is that you should be contacting your existing database of clients at least every 90 days to remind them just how good you are!
As a final thought, bearing in mind that one of the most common failures on the part of most businesses when selling is to follow up an initial contact in a timely manner, what will you change within your own business when you realise that 80% of the information that you presented for the first time to this prospect is likely to have been forgotten within a day of your presentation?
What new things do you need to experience repeatedly in your business to increase your business success?
To Your Success,