It isn't all about you.
Selling a product is tough. Selling yourself as a job candidate is tough. Selling your company to an investor is tough.
All seem like different kinds of sales jobs, but they usually all fail for the same reason: You.
It's not that you're not good enough. You could be a persuasive salesperson. You could have a killer resume, with all the right industry experience and degrees. Your app could be the next Angry Birds.
But, if you're not achieving your goals, it is probably because you are spending more time thinking about those goals and not thinking about the goals of the person on the other side of the desk from you.
Stop asking, "What’s in it for me?" and start demanding to know, "What's in it for them?" Figuring out the needs of the client or the interviewer comes secondary to most because the hunger to personally succeed outweighs everything. It’s time to flip that around because time is ticking and you don’t have any to waste. Your career depends on this shift in your attitude and mindset. The workforce is way too competitive to continue doing things in this old school way.
Whether you’re a candidate on a job interview or a salesperson out on a client call, your first job is to figure out how what you have to offer fills the other person’s needs. Let's look at someone going on a job interview. For interviewees, your job is to think of the interviewer as a potential client. It’s your job (as it were) to figure out that client’s needs and why you are the right person to fill that need. You are there, trying to win the opportunity to provide a service, not to be awarded a job. The latter is a selfish approach that will get you nowhere fast.
The same thing goes for sales calls. You go into a situation often thinking about the end result for you: the sale, and the resultant commission. But lost in translation is how that looks on the other end. Your potential customer knows you want to sell her something. That's a given. She expects it. But she needs to know why what you have to offer is what she needs. She has problems, too. Your job is to solve them for her, not solve your own by landing the deal.
Now before you all start throwing virtual tomatoes at me in the name of me being altruistic, let me clarify. Of course, you are there to serve your own purpose as well. You are there to land the job that’s going to afford you the ability to live and pay your bills. You are there to win that business off of the sales call so you can collect your commission, again to be able to live and pay your bills. What you get out of it is obvious and you should be clear about your needs and you should command what you’re worth. But most people lead with that and that's where they go wrong.
So, what's the easiest way to reverse this thinking? It comes from asking, not telling. When you show up for any situation where you need something, ask for the other person's needs first. For example, if you are meeting with a potential venture capitalist, make sure you start with asking where your company and its products fit in with his firm's portfolio. Ask how you and your management team can help solve problems for him.
Or, say you are trying to earn a promotion within your existing company. Start not by listing your years of service and dedication to the company, but rather with ideas you have to make improvements if you get the job. Make sure you ask your boss what she thinks the biggest pain points in the organization are (even if you already know them) and then list suggestions where you can be of service. Yes, you will benefit financially from a promotion or raise, but your company has to benefit, too. Lead with the benefits the organization will get.
Think it's simple advice? Hardly. If it were, you would land every sales deal, get every job and convince everyone to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. It takes a real change in mindset to put other people first. But, when you master the art, you will find that there is great benefit for you for being a benefit for others.
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