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The Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance

I checked the figures over and over again with the same result each time. They added up, so why was my leader not getting it? Despite weeks of work and valuable input from the client, I was meeting resistance from within my organization on the sale of the century. The deal had been years in the making, from an absolute no! to a willing participant in negotiations to an end of the road in sight. It is often said that the internal sale is sometimes much harder than the external sale. That was the case with this prospect, as everyone who needed to be briefed on the deal terms seemed to be totally risk-averse despite the numbers adding up. I mean how could the sales guy come up with this proposition on his own? It had to be wrong. There had to be something that was missed. Have you ever had this scenario in your selling career?

What some see as confidence, others might see as arrogance. It is a very fine line that is more about perception than actual reality. To be sure confidence sells. Selling without it is not an option. So how does one develop confidence to assist with the selling process, internally and externally, and avoid the backlash of being arrogant? I am not sure there is a single answer to that subject, but it starts with knowing as much as you can about the product you are selling, the company you are selling for, and the people you are selling to. Preparedness is an often-undervalued skill. It can be taught and encouraged, but the will to see it through and conduct it is always innate. On the flip side, you do not always get to choose the people you work with. They come with different perspectives, personalities, education, and cultures. These all need to be embraced and taken into account as you navigate the internal approval channels, however painful that might be. Unfortunately, there is also politics, jealousy, spitefulness, and resentment, and no matter what you do, somehow can creep into business today. So understanding the agenda both internally and externally is paramount in cutting to the chase to help you complete your deal, but even more important is how to deal with the politics and where the byproduct may actually be selling something.

Arrogance is defined as exaggerating one’s own worth with an overbearing manner. Sellers might possess the attitude that those they are selling to or dealing with are somehow less important than they are and merely in the way to completing a deal. This quality usually will not get professional salespeople very far, and they usually do not have long-term success with this behavior. I always take it with a grain of salt when I hear that a very successful sales professional is arrogant. Chances are they would not have made it far if that had been the case. Customers and buyers sniff that out straight away and really are the true barometer of this fact.

Often, as I prepare for sales calls, I do all I can to give myself every chance for success, and to keep my confidence high, I want to know as much as I can before the first meeting. Today, with the availability of so many tools, a salesperson can be well versed about all aspects of a company they are going to visit, from public to private. There are resources available that only serve to improve your confidence levels before you walk through the front door. Add to this your product knowledge, which should be airtight, along with the happenings of your competition and the industry you are selling to, and your informational confidence will be sky-high. Practice and repetition of your pitch, along with a period of time in the role, will also add to your confidence. You will hear repeated objections to your sale, and where the responses, at first, seemed contrived, now roll off your tongue as smooth as silk, delivering factual information with ease. The quotient for confidence rises even higher with each closed sale you book, the commission check you receive, and the awards you win. Confidence breeds success.

In the end, professional persistence is key to sales success buoyed by the confidence that you have created. Spend this currency wisely. Eventually, the phone will ring, and the internals will catch up and approve your deal. You can cut them some slack; they do not do this dance like you do every day. It takes a special type of person to be in sales, and you have the confidence to keep getting it done.

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include: Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and the associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at

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