Buy the numbers - Developing Confidence and Personal Motivation

A metrics-driven sales pitch will help you sell with confidence

Whether you’re a professional athlete or a professional sales rep, nothing builds confidence like knowing your value. But unlike most salespeople, athletes understand that their value is determined primarily by cold, hard data. Look at the NFL draft. Teams pay exorbitant salaries to top draft picks based upon an agreed upon set of significant statistics. Sure, subjective criteria such as character and maturity play a role in how a player is perceived by prospective teams. But a player’s placement in the draft and resulting monetary value are determined by objective quantitative data such as performance statistics, body measurements and a Wonderlic score.

Salespeople would be wise to take note. Hard data related to business issues that matter to the prospect are the most effective proof of value. With data, prospects are not asked to believe unsubstantiated sales claims. They are given evidence to support a value-based purchase decision.

Traditional approaches can be confidence killers

It may not be intuitive that a new sales approach would increase confidence. After all, there is comfort in doing what you know. But traditional sales approaches leave salespeople vulnerable to competition and non-decision in a way that value-based sales strategies do not.

Consider this traditional approach: Selling features and benefits such as "an enhanced user experience" or "superior customer service." For a prospect, this approach can raise more questions than it answers: Whose opinions do these statements reflect? Are they just empty marketing claims? Are these benefits critical to my organization? And what is a justifiable premium to pay for them?

As a sales rep, this is uncomfortable territory. It can be difficult to prove such claims and attempting to justify them can leave a salesperson sounding – and feeling – defensive. This is not a strong position to be in and it can seriously undermine confidence during a sales call.

It is much easier to be calm and self-assured when you know that you have the numbers to back up your sales claims.

Relationship selling is another traditional sales approach. Unfortunately in today’s economy, the people with whom a relationship has been forged may no longer have the power to buy, or they might not even be there when it comes time to sell into the company again. Between increased job mobility and corporate downsizing, that’s just a fact of life. The new contact will need a better reason to buy than "your company has always chosen us as your provider." Also, there's too much competition today to think that a good relationship will outweigh advantages that the customer may be able to obtain elsewhere. The bottom line is that today, relying on relationship selling puts the salesperson in a weak position. That is not a confidence builder.

Know the numbers that matter

As stated earlier, knowing the value that you offer is a real confidence-builder. But it’s critical that the numbers used to justify value are numbers that matter to the prospect on high-priority issues. Consider the NFL draft again. If you’re a left tackle, arm length is critical. If you’re a punter, it’s not. So while a punter with 35” arms won’t be drafted any higher than his short-armed peers, it may mean the difference between being taken in the first or later rounds for a left tackle because this number matters to teams.

In sales, the numbers that matter most to prospects relate to financials. These include metrics such as return on investment (ROI), percent increase in productivity, net present value, economic value add, payback period and the like. Positioning goods and services this way takes advantage of metrics that executive-level prospects understand, value and use to make decisions on a daily basis. We recommend having sales enablement software have these key financial metrics embedded directly into the sales app and actually use the SFA software as a platform to present to customers.

Other effective ways to use metrics are to:

  • compare and contrast the proposed good or service against an existing or competitive solution
  • show how a product or service can help a prospect break into a new market or compete more effectively in existing markets (competitive differentiation)
  • show how the product or service has already helped other similar companies achieve positive results (only innovators and early adopters buy without case-study proof)

When sales contentions are supported by financially relevant data in clear, articulate presentations, prospects sit up and take notice. This is because information is presented in terms they understand and value and because the competition is almost certainly not talking in these terms. This makes for a challenger sales presentation that stands apart from the rest.

A data-driven sales discussion is powerful and persuasive. As a result, it’s a great confidence-builder. It is much easier to be calm and self-assured when you know that you have the numbers to back up your sales claims. In fact, it’s like going into the draft as a left tackle with great stats and 35" arms.


"This article by Jeff Koser was originally published in SOLD magazine, a monthly digital sales magazine for sales professionals."