“Be bold - Don't be impressed by titles. Everyone was once a scared child and will become an old geezer, and you're meeting them somewhere along that path. They are all just people.” Kevin Sasser
When pushing yourself to sell bigger deals and call on higher level executives, it’s easy to get intimidated, put on the defensive, and not be your best self.
When I did my first public speech in front of 10 people I was terrified. I kept practicing and putting myself in these situations and then moved on to 50 people and then 100 people and my next step is 1,000 or more people in the audience. It has taken me years to get comfortable in these settings. And I still get butterflies just before I go on stage. I notice my fear, and then I try to see my audience as human beings that have the same needs, fears, ambitions as I do. They are here for a little help or a couple of new ideas. I can provide these in a thoughtful, personable, confident manner. It really doesn’t matter if you’re speaking in front of a big audience, doing a new business pitch to a group of influential executives, or having a 1:1 conversation with someone with a big budget and an ego to boot. Be clear, direct, authentically confident and have the highest intentions of seeing if you are a good fit. Stop trying to sell. Stop getting all ‘mousey’. Stop trying so hard to convince people how awesome you are. It’s unattractive in dating and it’s not compelling at all in sales.
On the other side of the spectrum, you can sometimes overcorrect by trying to appear too confident and a bit egotistical, which is also a turnoff. My first big job interview after college was with the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago. I had heard they all thought highly of themselves and took only the best candidates. I showed up to the assembly line style interview with my swagger on. When they asked me why they should hire me I said, “Well, I’m going to get a job in the ad business no matter what. If it’s with Leo Burnett, great, but if not I’ll find somewhere else…” I thought I was conveying confidence, but mostly I came across as a self-absorbed, naïve ass. Needless to say, I did not get asked back. Be careful about an overcorrection in situations where you feel like you have to establish power and control that are really compensating for nerves or any tinge of feeling inferior.
Stop getting weird when you’re talking with someone who you judge is more important, more successful, and/or more attractive. It is a very natural human reaction. Notice the nervousness and try to let it go. Do everything you can to show up as human, unique, strong and compelling.
From a sales perspective, your job is to find bigger problems to solve, keep your message simple, and engage with people that can actually make decisions. Be bold. Be yourself. Solve big problems. Face your fear of talking to “important people” that represent a “big opportunity.” Just do your thing. If you are willing to move towards your discomfort instead of shying away from it you will be rewarded.
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