Not too long ago I had convinced myself that I had a life-obstructing fear of the face-to-face client meeting. Inherently, I have always been pretty sensitive to judgement and criticism and I felt like this was yet another medium for others to catalyse those feelings and drive my anxiety of inferiority even deeper.
I have spent a great deal of time trying to address the fear and understand why it existed within me at all. I questioned whether it was the client meeting itself or just something about the client meeting that made me uncomfortable. It’s certainly not that I’m socially inept. My friends would undoubtedly vouch that I can and do talk to anyone, any time for just about any reason. After much inward inspection and a great deal of self-awareness, I came to realize that my fear only surfaces in situations where the focus is 100% on me. Environments that would strongly qualify: the client meeting, a first date, public speaking, etc. When faced with these situations, I automatically feel a self-created pressure to perform. Do I bring something unique to the table? Will I say something, anything that my audience might find interesting? Will they walk away from this thinking I’m unqualified, naïve or worse… ordinary?
I have always been a big fan of questions. I’m flattered when people put forth questions to me, as it’s easy to assume they think I know something they don’t. That said, more often than not I tend to be the one asking most of the questions.
I can’t quite pinpoint where this started in my childhood or why. Perhaps within our genetic code there’s an amino acid or two that twist or curve in a certain way, shaping a more rampant sense of curiosity or eagerness to acquire knowledge. Maybe it’s because my parents encouraged my curiosity, rather than making me feel silly for not knowing.
Recently, I had a very humbling experience when I was called on to share knowledge with my Esthetician, Lucy. I went to see Lucy a few weeks back and we got talking about her family. I asked if she had any siblings. Just as she’s tearing a strip of hot wax off my face, she stopped and asked in her broken English, “What’s that word you just say?” I asked, “Sibling?” “Yes, yes, what’s that word? How do you spell it?” I went on to explain what it meant, how to spell it and how it could be used in a sentence. Lucy reminded me that not everyone is afraid of asking questions, but those that are certainly constitute the majority.
Why don’t we ask more questions?
Fear of judgement?
Do we feel we already know everything we need to know?
Do we have difficulty relinquishing control?
Do we think people are ignorant with little to contribute to our lives?
Would you say that you are well versed in reading others? I am not talking about Mom, Dad or even friends that you’ve known for years. I am talking about complete strangers who you know very little about.
Today I will talk about a few simple ways to get a read on others and explain why it’s important.
Reading others could be defined in one word; intuition. However there’s no room for guess work when you are placed in front of a game-changing business prospect that could singlehandedly revamp the future of your business. Getting a good read within the first 15 seconds is imperative to success. In the examples below, we will assume that the esteemed decision-maker mentioned above, is a she.
Things to watch out for:
1) Is she making eye contact?
2) Does she seemed relaxed or rushed?
3) Did she offer a smile during the introductory greeting?
4) Does she seem keen or indifferent?
5) Is she giving off happy, stressed or irritated vibes?
6) Does she seem engaged in the discussion?
7) Does she speak with authority or is she passive in her approach?
Mark Binns has, and continues to be one of the most influential people in my life. Mark and I have worked together for the last seven years. He has an almost effortless ability to see beyond the next curve. He can assess complex challenges and prescribe effective solutions…in real-time. Although he is a leader in his industry, he has managed to hold onto his honourable east-coast roots, and makes a point of investing his personal time in developing promising talent. Lucky for me, he saw something in me years ago. I say without a shadow of a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support.
Today is all about Mark. He will talk about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to do it right.
The Science of Productivity talks about how to keep up with the rising expectations in the workplace.
If we shorten periods of procrastination, create an action plan, schedule relaxation and track success, we can ultimately work smarter, not longer.
As a follow up to my last post, which talks about us business people not taking ourselves so seriously, I saw an article which completely supports this idea.
In the article, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason gets fired, writes hilarious ‘resignation’ letter, by Emily Senger, a well-known CEO admits defeat and is alarmingly honest and open about his experience as CEO of Groupon.
We have to be open to the idea of failure or we won’t take the necessary risks which can deliver great reward.
Bringing humour back to business in a world programmed for success & hard wired for abundance might seem like a challenge unworthy of effort.
I believe if we all laughed as hard as we worked, the world would be a much happier place.
Sadly, we are plagued by our pride, restricted by our fears and ordinary to our conventionalism.
The question is… when did we all start taking ourselves so seriously?
Does your internal chatter tend to throw you off your game leading up to a new client meeting?
Do your clients consider you a talkative and sociable person?
Do you value ‘what you know’ over ‘what people think of you’?
Do you exert a great deal of energy seeking colleague and client approval?
Although somewhat contrasting qualities, if you can see yourself within these questions, it’s likely that you are an ambivert.
I read an article recently called, Why extroverts fail, introverts flounder and you probably succeed, which sheds light on characteristics that yield of some of the most successful salespeople.
Shockingly, based on conducted research, the extrovert is not actually the most successful sales person in business today. We are not responding the same way we once did to the classic extrovert. I’ve been a personal witness to this overdone charade on occasion and you can almost hear a physical sound of grimace and retraction from the other side of the table. Whether intentional or not, extroverts have a way of triggering that funny feeling in your tummy and they make you question whether they have your best intentions in mind. Although the delivery may be flawless, in the deep pockets of your mind you wonder if you are being played.
In the article, Enthusiasm and Passion Aren’t Enough, Arlene Dickinson highlights some of her tricks of the trade in her best-selling book, Persuasion.
Arlene talks about the importance of preparation and how it has an even greater impact on achieving a positive outcome than your presentation.
All too often, I believe salespeople make the mistake of leaning into the technical aspects of what they are selling, instead of channeling that same energy into exposing what the customer is hoping to achieve.
Think of the sales cycle as a planned road trip in the depths of a Canadian winter. Naturally, we become overwhelmed by our fear of the unknown and the all of the uncertainty that lies ahead, although we can’t help but feel a sense of excitement that something great is going to happen along the way.
In yesterday’s post, Talking to strangers is scary, I discussed how the fear of prospecting increases the amount of time salespeople spend in this preliminary stage of the sales cycle. Today I will talk about a few simple suggestions that will help you overcome your fear of prospecting.
1) Turn an unpredictable conversation into a predictable one by first putting yourself in the shoes of each individual prospect. How will the prospect object? What will turn them off? What will turn them on? What’s their focus for the next three months? By doing our homework and identifying all possible branches of conversation, we can take back control of the call, and better influence its success.
2) Strive to connect on a personal level. Address people by their first name, ask how their day is going or what they did over the weekend or on their vacation. By extracting personal stories, it will make it easier to relate on a human level, which helps build rapport. Once the connection is made, you have paved the way for a much more relaxed conversation.