Confidence is catching

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 when making a verbal pitch, 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.

What we believe is true really matters. If we believe in what we’re doing, others will believe it too.

Recently, Psychology Today related a study where research 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. In these tests, participants were presented with one standard figure and four alternative figures. Two of the alternative figures are rotated versions of the standard figure, whereas the other two are mirror images of the standard figure – and test subjects were asked to determine which is which. Here’s an example of the sort of thing they were faced with:

At first, the researchers found a big difference between the results of men and women on these tests (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 control group A, there were no such differences in the test group B. These findings support the idea that the differences in results were due to confidence, and not ability.

When I review proposals and tender responses for organisations that aren’t winning as much business as they deserve to, it’s obvious where they lack confidence in their pitch and their offer. The writer’s doubt and fear have soaked into every page, and they leave a stain that’s 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?

The first sale is always to yourself. When you are sold, the customer will be too.

Value: how to talk about what you do so people want to buy it

Today I am proud to announce the release of my new book, Value – How To Talk About What You Do So People Want To Buy It.

It’s the final book in my Winning Business series, which also includes The Shredder Test, a step-by-step guide to writing winning proposals, and Winning Again, which reveals how to retain your most important contracts and customers.

For almost two decades, I’ve been helping suppliers to win multi-million-dollar contracts in complex services industries.

Through this, I’ve learned a lot about how business and government customers buy, including why they say “no” to offers that seem to make perfect, logical sense.

This book focuses on value creation, which is the key to successful new business pursuits.

A recent study on sales execution trends by Qvidian found that only 63% of salespeople actually make their targets, with pursuits ending in “no decision” the major reason for the shortfall. While four in 10 salespeople thought that an inability to effectively communicate value might be behind their lack of success, only half of these people also chose this as a skill they needed to work on.

Understanding your true value is the key to unlocking more of what you want–  more customers, higher margins, and more rewarding work.

It is my hope that Value will help you to look at what you do in an entirely new way: from the perspective of how it creates commercial value for customers. Reading Value is like being a fly on the wall of your prospect’s office, while they talk about a problem you have the perfect solution for. It could just make the difference between sealing the deal,  or losing, as so many do, to “no decision”.

If you have ever missed out on an opportunity that you really deserved to win, ever struggled to explain what you offer to people who just don’t seem to understand, or if you’ve ever seen prospective customers stubbornly go down a path that you know is not right for them – then this is the book for you.

You can buy your copy here. I hope you enjoy Value as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it for you.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Is it time to pimp your proposals? Stop wasting time and money on proposals that go nowhere. The Pimp My Proposals program will give you the feedback, content and structure you need to build compelling proposals that win business. Learn what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it. Email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.

The power of visualisation in winning again

Having to compete again for business we already have is pretty intense – a lot like the pressure faced by elite athletes. High-achieving sportspeople not only need to train, but they need a game plan that helps them visualise success. Once we have a plan like this too, success is just a matter of following the plan.

In elite sports, emotional conditioning is critical. Once you get to the Olympics, everyone is pretty equal physically. The athletes who can handle noise, stress, pressure, and distraction are often the ones that win.

Legendary American swimmer Michael Phelps is a good example. Over his career, Phelps won 18 gold medals - double the number of the second highest record holder - and credits his success to his practice of pre-race visualisation.

When Phelps started swimming at the age of 7, he admits that he was a tense and moody kind of kid. To counter this, his coach taught him to imagine himself swimming a perfect race- making smooth strokes, touching the edges of the pool, and ripping off his goggles at the finish to check his winning time. Throughout his career he pictured all of this regularly, with his eyes closed. He called it “watching his videotape."

Phelps believes that this pre-race preparation is what helped him set a gold record at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the 200m butterfly, despite the fact that his goggles were filled with water at the time. When asked what it felt like to swim blind he simply said, "It felt like I imagined it would."

How great would it be to be this confident the next time you have to compete again for business you already have, and can’t afford to lose? And to stay confident, even when you’re facing noise, distractions, and the equivalent of a face full of water?

We can still squeeze you in at next week’s public workshop in Melbourne – or book for the next one in June. Or,  this program is also available in-house for your team. Contact me to find out more.

I’d love to help you visualise how you can achieve success. 

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Do you have ambitious growth targets this year? Keen to win the business you REALLY want, at the margins you want, and have more fun doing it? Let me help you to design and build an offer that is so commercially valuable, your target customers would be crazy not to buy it. For a copy of the white paper Pole Position - How to Achieve New Business Success, email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.

Heroes, hard work and hope

Change is hard, and enforced change that is beyond our control is the hardest of all. But nature abhors a vacuum. Something else will eventually take the place of what was there before, and you never know, it could be even better.

I was very moved to read about the story of Detroit recently.

Detroit has lost half its population in the past 50 years, fuelled by a sharp decline in automotive manufacturing, the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler, and a huge wave of mortgage foreclosures during the global financial crisis. When people could no longer afford to stay in their homes, they simply left them; one-fifth of the central municipal area is returning to nature, in neighbourhoods now known as “urban prairie”.  In 2013, Detroit experienced the USA’s largest municipal bankruptcy with $18 billion in debt.

But some in Detroit aren’t going to sit by and see their city crumble.

National Geographic magazine tells the story of Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery-Boyd, who invested $45,000 to open successful restaurant Vegan Soul on one Detroit’s many deserted streets, seeing an opportunity in a city with a huge obesity problem.

Financial services entrepreneur John Hantz has spent $4m buying 1,700 properties, clearing 500 lots and planting 15,000 trees – an investment that he says pays him back in “psychic income”.

Now new businesses are opening in Detroit every day, fuelled by a wave of young people priced out of other US cities and excited by the opportunity to own property and build a future there.

“Most people wanna save Detroit”, says former graffiti tagger Antonio “Shades” Agee, whose street art now adorns the buildings of Reebok, Quicken and Fiat Chrysler. “But you can’t save Detroit. You gotta BE Detroit”.

Slowly, Detroit is reinventing itself. It won’t be easy. But it already has the makings of a great comeback story.

We all have that opportunity. Loss is part of life, and is not always preventable. But we can choose not to let the loss define us, and making that choice generates its own power. 

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.