There are people who focus all their energy on the impression they leave behind after a sales meeting or a presentation to a board of directors. And then there are those who are focused on winning the moment. To these I ask: What of the moments that follow – just after yours has passed?
The impression you leave shouldn’t be one of thick sales tactics and attempted domination – one that leads to “the executive eye roll” as my friend Gill Wagner put it.
If you leave a meeting feeling like you won – you may have done something wrong. If you leave a meeting feeling like they won – you know you did something right (and sure, you will feel like a winner too).
It’s not about selling what you have. It’s about finding the best possible product or service to help the person in front of you do better and be more successful. If they win, you win.
With this in mind, the executive eye roll will never afflict you behind your back. And it does afflict people – we only experience the “we went with someone else” phone call – we never get to see the eyes roll right in front of our face. If only we could stand there five minutes after the presentation ends, when we would normally be getting in our car, and watch the board of directors roll their eyes at the obvious sales tactics being employed.
I have been guilty of receiving the eye roll, many times – although I have never been there to watch it happen. One such time stands out clearly: Years ago a seasoned fundraiser and I sat down to have a visit with a potential donor for a capital campaign. The moment the visit began I went right into it, positive I could sell the idea and get a gift – assured success on my first try! I told all the reasons why the project was important and how much it meant – I even told of my background and tried to relate to the person in front of me – I went on and on. The visit went horribly. I don’t think we managed to raise anything on that visit.
The seasoned fundraiser I was with, who evidently refrained from slapping me in the jaw, took me outside for a walk and did his best to tell me one thing, nicely: shut up and listen. It was then I realized that learning to listen would be more difficult than I thought.
Selling is so easy when you shut up and listen.
(And if you need help learning to do this, try reading Power Questions – it certainly helped me.)