The CIO was really steamed. His forty-minute rant covered bad service, broken promises, high prices, and poor communication – just for a start. It sounded like he had reason on his side. He didn’t like the warm-up joke one of my colleagues told. He liked even less the questions about how his family was doing, and when he’d last had a chance to sail his boat.
Did I mention this was my second week with my new company, and my first day of ride-along with two senior sales reps? Yes, as you can imagine, I was thinking, “Well, Pat, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into.”
I said, “May I ask a question?”
After a moment, the CIO said I could.
“It’s clear neither you nor I have much of a sense of humor. It’s also clear neither of us care about your cats or your hobbies. My question is, why did you let us come here and take up your time?”
From the looks on their faces, my associates were trying to decide whether to kill me before or after security showed up to escort us out.
But, guess what? The CIO smiled and said, “Well at least one person on your team has some brains instead of thinking their charm is going to get them out of this mess. I want to know what you’re going to do to clean up this mess and when!”
I’m telling you this story because so many coaches, consultants and independent professionals ponder the question, Are great salespeople born or made? As they roll the question around in their head, they usually feel like Great Salespeople have to be born charmers. They are required to have magnetism oozing out their pores. They are expected to be able to tell a joke or have snappy one-liners at their disposal to put the prospect at ease and take them off their guard.
How many of us are really like that? They’re more rare than you think, especially if that charm (ability to fascinate) didn’t come wrapped in your DNA.
Yes, being a charmer can be a strong advantage to the Great Salesperson, whether a coach or a consultant, especially during the attraction phase of the relationship. But, it’s not essential.
As the Buyer, Are You Looking for Charm or Substance?
Think about yourself when you’re the buyer looking for an expert to support you in your business. If you’re presented with two choices, one a glib charmer and the other a quieter, almost taciturn expert who clearly knows his stuff and has helped others just like you, which are you going to choose?
Yes, there are some prospects who will choose flashy and charming over substance. Are those really the clients you want to work with?
The point is that most clients are more like you – they want an expert, an experienced guide. You already are that person. The issue is how to convey that unmistakably to the prospect without being pushy or manipulative. And without giving them a boring laundry list of the features of your product or service.
You just might be surprised. Your concern for their problem, your compassion and genuine curiosity will get you farther down the road to a new client than oozing charm and firing off snappy one-liners.
In my experience, a surprising number of clients find warmth and humanity, combined with a sincere desire to solve their problem, to be highly charismatic. You charmer.
Take Action – Make This Your Own
Get clear on where you stand – ask yourself these questions:
- Are you feeling deficient in charm or charisma?
- Are you unconsciously letting this feeling hold you back in prospect conversations?
- How often does this feeling keep you from asking for the business, for what you’re worth?
- In your next prospect conversation, focus on the problem that needs to be solved.
- Can you solve the problem? How can you prove it?
- Are you willing to believe that selling is just one more skill set that can be learned?
You can also check out these related posts:
Are Great Salespeople Born or Made? As a Consultant or Coach, Why Do You Care?
Are Great Salespeople Born or Made? What If You’re an Introvert?
Gladiator Selling – Would You Get a Thumbs Up or a Thumbs Down?
Share a comment: what do you think? Are Great Salespeople born or made? And why?