Have you ever lost a piece of business you really deserved to win? Seen a contract go to a less qualified competitor? Felt less than confident about a proposal, only to find out later that the client had reservations about your ability to do the job?
You may have been a victim of a lack of confidence, not lack of ability.
Psychology Today published a research study where psychologists asked groups of men and women to perform a series of mental rotation tests and then quizzed them on their level of confidence taking the tests.
At first, the researchers found a big difference between the results of men and women (men consistently scored better). However, when the participant’s level of confidence was taken into account, the gender differences evaporated.
The researchers decided to test the robustness of the “confidence” finding by asking participants to complete the tests under two different scenarios – the control group (A) was allowed to skip a test if they felt they lacked confidence in their answers, and the test group (B) was not allowed to skip any tests.
While they did find gender differences in the group A, there were no such differences in group B.
The differences in results were due to confidence, and not ability.
When I review proposals, bids and tender responses for people who aren’t winning as much business as they deserve to, any lack of confidence is easy to spot.
The writers’ doubts and fears have soaked into every page, leaving a stain that is hard to ignore.
Re-read your proposals from the customer’s perspective. Do they answer questions, or create them? Do they inspire confidence or in fact, do the opposite?
What you believe is true really matters, because this belief will translate onto the page. So the first sale is always to yourself.