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The Self-Confidence Myth. What Every Consultant Needs to Know

Last week, like most weeks, a recurring theme among the consultants I advise was confidence. It sounded like this: “I’m not confident enough in my offering, abilities, value, or sales skills choose one] to win more revenue.” The same insecurity was voiced by startup consultants and multi-million dollar producers alike. Is the connection between confidence and rainmaking a myth? Uhm, no. That one’s true. But I’ll tell you what is a myth:

“Confidence is about you. If you examine yourself and your beliefs about your offering, abilities, value, or sales skills [choose some], you’ll realize you are worthy and deserve more clients…so go out there and win them!”

Hogwash. Balderdash. Poppycock. Horsefeathers. [Choose one]

Confidence isn’t about you; the lack of confidence is about you. To be more precise, your self-confidence issues stem from you thinking too much about you. My self-confidence issues stem from me thinking too much about me. Donald Trump’s self-confidence issues don’t exist; they have no stem.

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The irony of flagging self-confidence is it’s an entirely inward-focused phenomenon. We’re only bothered by our weak offering, run-of-the-mill abilities, unproven value and shaky sales skills because we’re worried about failing. And failing feels bad. To us. Not to clients, who couldn’t care less if we lose a project.

Stop worrying about yourself, stop judging yourself, stop comparing yourself to others, and stop trying to protect yourself from a bruised ego. That may not bolster your confidence, but it will release the senseless ballast that’s weighing your practice down.

To re-iterate: self-confidence is important. Critically important. And virtually every independent consultant struggles with their confidence now and again. When you hit one of those rough patches, can you just ignore the problem or wish it away? Of course not. But…

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The solution isn’t introspection. Boost your self-confidence by reflecting less on yourself and more on your targets’ problems and aspirations. You’ll find your confidence soars when you’re on the exact same wavelength as your prospects.

We’re in a service—not “serve us”—profession.

Action questions:

Is your offering powerful? Maybe, maybe not. Ask some prospects. Design your offering to address their needs, not your skill sets. When your practice focuses on them (those you serve), not you, your offering will be solid. And you’ll know it.

Are your abilities strong enough? Probably. Ask some clients whether your skills are sufficient to solve their problem. Successful consulting is not about whether you are superior to someone else; it’s about whether you can help deliver the outcome they (those you serve) need.

Is your value proven? Again, turn to those around you for counsel and guidance. You are not the arbiter of your worth (in consulting). That’s wholly the purview of the clients and prospects you serve. The myth is you can get in touch with your value by looking deep inside. The truth is, you don’t adjudicate value, so jettison the mirror.

Your focus during any consulting sales conversation can be on you or the prospect. Choose one. Which one? The prospect, of course. With your attention fully on the people you’re serving, your self-confidence issues will dissipate. And that’s no myth.

Immediate action question: What will you choose to do today to get in better touch with your prospects and their issues? (Write your answer as a comment at the bottom of this post.)


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12 Comments
  1. Diana Rogero
    October 7, 2015 at 10:45 am Reply

    So true! It’s a lesson I wish I had learned long ago.

    • David A. Fields
      October 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm Reply

      Some folks are still years away from learning this — you’re years ahead of the pack.

  2. Robert Blomquist
    October 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm Reply

    Like most things, sales, marriage, friendship, focus on the other and things will work out. Well said. “the company, (your practice) only exists to serve a customer”… Peter Drucker.

    • David A. Fields
      October 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm Reply

      Drucker was one smart fellow! Keeping a service mentality can be tough, whether it’s in business or, as you said, a friendship or intimate relationship. The rewards accrue to those who make it a priority despite the challenge.

      • Anatoli Naoumov
        November 23, 2016 at 10:36 am Reply

        After a lengthy meeting with a prospect/client I ask them to rate the results vs their expectation.

        • David A. Fields
          November 24, 2016 at 10:16 am

          Soliciting client feedback is a terrific practice, Anatoli. Kudos to you for integrating it into your regular process.

  3. Frank Summerfield
    October 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm Reply

    The thing I’m going to do, right now, is what I’ve been putting off too long – improve my profile to focus on what I can do for clients that’s within my skillset, but not for my-self. My-self will show in the work itself.

    • David A. Fields
      October 8, 2015 at 8:25 pm Reply

      Wow, Frank. That’s a fabulous action. Please let me know when you have your new communication together so I can take a look, and good luck with it!

  4. Steven Feinberg
    October 8, 2015 at 5:52 pm Reply

    “Best of your art humor (trump voting booth)”

    • David A. Fields
      October 8, 2015 at 8:34 pm Reply

      Thanks, Steven. Hard to tell the difference between my drawing and a photograph, isn’t it!

  5. Tayo Adedokun
    July 7, 2016 at 1:40 pm Reply

    Nice post, this has been my greatest problem-self confidence.

    Some time last week, I was in speech with a consultant, the same title was mentioned to me as my problem. Getting back home, I took a bold step to review a prospect issue and was a able boldly send a mail on the issue and wish to submit a proposal. To my surprise, the prospect promised to send a good reply.

    Self Confidence is key for any consultant. Thank you David.

    • David A. Fields
      July 7, 2016 at 6:28 pm Reply

      Fabulous, Tayo. The key is you got out of your own way, stopped worrying about yourself and took action that could benefit your prospective client. As a result, a new opportunity has opened up for you! Thank you for sharing your success… and keep the confidence flowing.

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