“Don’t be afraid to admit a knowledge gap.”

27.10.2021

Nadja Seifert is sitting on a car seat. More seats can be seen in the background.
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Radiating confidence. Nadja Seifert, certified salesperson at Mercedes-Benz, explains how to do it.

Nadja Seifert is a member of the Mercedes-Benz sales team for used cars. She knows what she wants – and is willing to go the extra mile to get it. She sees positive feedback as an incentive. As she also does those moments when things don’t go quite so smoothly. Reason enough to talk to the young woman about confidence. What does confidence mean? How do you acquire it? And how do you build it up?   

Nadja, is a confident person someone who immediately has a solution ready in every situation and for every problem? 

Absolutely not. In my own job, products and services are constantly evolving and becoming more complex, so you can’t know or solve everything right away. And I’m pretty sure that’s true in a lot of other areas, too. For me, being confident therefore means feeling able to admit there’s a gap in your knowledge. What’s then important is knowing where to find the necessary information. This is much more authentic than pretending to be something you’re not and possibly being found out. Especially as I am convinced that there’s really no need for play-acting. In any case, I rarely experience customers who expect me to have everything at my fingertips straight away.

But admitting to the occasional gap in your knowledge is not enough, is it? 

No. Let’s stay with the situation where I can’t give an immediate answer. In order to solve such problems confidently, I have to deal with the matter promptly and stay in communication with the customer. A positive attitude is also important. For me, confidence basically means the ability to approach challenges in a solution-oriented way, to exude competence and to act independently. If I manage to put all this into practice in a conversation with a client, I convey a sense of reassurance to my counterpart, and they can develop trust in me.

Is there anything else that is needed to convey confidence?

Yes: empathy. It goes hand in hand with the issue of confidence. I find it very important to be able to put myself in the other person’s shoes. Empathy means, for example, taking a step back at the right moments and actively listening. This is the only way to find out, what customers actually want and what are important criteria, e.g. for the purchase of a vehicle. This is a far more confident way of dealing with things than immediately trying to score points with your own knowledge about products, services or processes. You probably don’t even need many years of professional experience for this insight.

Speaking of experience: is it possible to feel confident in the job right from the start?

After starting my career, I knew very quickly: this is what I want to do. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel at all confident at first. I think that’s also pretty hard for someone straight out of school. It just takes time. Positive key experiences are then helpful. In my case, it was a work placement as a product expert at the Bremen plant. I met so many customers every day, heard new stories and new questions. At some point I realised: this is going pretty well! Challenges help you grow – and it’s good to actively seek them out. And don’t forget: positive feedback is a great incentive.

It sounds as though your confidence has grown more or less automatically. Or did you also have to work at it?

A bit of both. In some ways it did actually develop of its own accord – through what I learned during training and then with every further conversation I had with customers, and also with colleagues. I wasn’t aware of the change at first; others had to point it out to me. That’s when I started to reflect on it more myself. And from that point on, at the latest, I have also worked towards that goal. I still do, by the way, even though I’ve been doing this for over five years. If I am unsure or have a gap in my knowledge that I could have filled beforehand, it is, of course, unpleasant. It’s not nice, but it helps personal and professional development because it shows you how to do better next time.

“Doing better” leads us straight to the topic of continuing professional development. How does this contribute to confidence?

Even though I said that you don’t have to be perfect: if you want to be confident, you need to have a comprehensive level of know-how. You acquire and maintain that by staying on the ball. That’s why I completed a further training course with Mercedes-Benz Global Training from January to September to become a certified Mercedes-Benz salesperson. For example, we were given the task of writing a report after each encounter with a customer. What went well? What could have gone better? In the same way, a certification programme like this gives you the opportunity to exchange ideas with the other participants and to give one another feedback. I can only advise anyone who has the chance to undertake further training and is perhaps still undecided: seize the opportunity! You can only benefit – for example, by becoming more confident.

Mercedes-Benz customers can expect excellent advice. Salesperson Nadja Seifert plays an important part in this at her Mercedes-Benz dealership. Also thanks to the support from Mercedes-Benz Global Training.

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Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 27.10.2021.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

8 Alle technischen Angaben sind vorläufig und wurden intern nach Maßgabe der jeweils anwendbaren Zertifizierungsmethode ermittelt. Es liegen bislang weder bestätigte Werte vom TÜV noch eine EG-Typgenehmigung noch eine Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.