Archive for July, 2013

Boastful, confident or diffident – which is best?

Yes, you’d think the answer’s a no brainer yet achieving the optimum mindset and behaviour is not a slam dunk.

Decades ago I learned when interviewing potential sales people for our department that most of the male applicants would be assertive (often verging on aggressive), “bigging up” the skills and abilities they already possessed, and their track record. The input from the majority of females on the other hand would be more along the lines of “I think I can do this job well with the right training”.

Since we invariably preferred to instill our own Thomson methods of training we were more interested in raw material potential than evidence of often bad sales techniques and habits that we’d have to train out to make way for what we wanted to train in… And we made it plain in our recruitment campaigns that experience was not necessary as full training would be given… Yet even so, the guys, by and large, exhibited what’s often referred to as the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” during the selection interviews.

Years later, when looking for interviewers for a substantial telephone marketing research campaign on behalf of a b2b client, determined not to be labelled as being descriminatory against either sex I interviewed guys and gals and came across exactly the same syndrome. I stressed that experience was not essential – a good , clear voice, pleasant personality and the ability to listen and make accurate notes was. I took on five of each yet by the end of two weeks had dispensed with the services of the guys: They just couldn’t get the interviews…


In my opinion this just doesn’t work. When I was going after a promotion to a management position many years ago one piece of advice was “Act like you already have the job” to which I responded: “I’ll act like I have the job once I get it – I’m not going about ordering my colleagues around in the meantime…”.

  • I was wrong and
  • The advice wasn’t specific enough

I believe what my well-meaning advisor actually meant was: “Think of the qualities displayed by those you admire who are already holding a similar position, and demonstrate that you, too, have those qualities (whether you get the job or not).” And I would have bought into that whole-heartedly.

Think about the examples here and see if they apply to you or any of your employees. Then see how you can help yourself or them to raise the game… :-)

My thanks to Lindy Asimus for starting me off on this train of thought… :-)

What advice or skills should you expect to pay for?

Back in the early noughties I invested a lot of time creating a course on sales and marketing communications specifically for entrepreneurs and owners of micro (1 – 10 employees) businesses, primarily in the B2B arena, where the main “man” was still responsible for the sales and marketing activities.

It was a proper “how to” distance learning course (as they were still called back then) that led participants step by step through each activity, it had examples of of using the skills in different situation and industries, exercises and worksheets that they filled out and submitted to me. We’d have weekly one-one-one telephone or Skype session to chart progress and iron out any bumps that had cropped up in their learning, honing and application of skills and techniques.

Now I’m one of the best sales trainers I’ve ever come across when it comes to training those who dread coming across as pushy sales men or women are concerned. If they couldn’t face the idea of making a “cold” sales call I’d included alternatives that they could learn to use – market/ marketing research, for example. And those who took the course found their success as a result of taking my course sky rocketed. But it turned out there weren’t enough of them, and I wasn’t charging enough to make the living I expected to from it.

As a good businessman I later came across said to me: “Fabulous idea; amazing value; but wrong audience – they’ll never pay you what it’s worth…” And he was right.

It was slightly better when I reduced the course to straight sales and telephone sales training that bosses could purchase for their under-performing sales representatives: It was obviously more appealing to fund a subordinate to do the learning than pay and have to go through the learning process as well…

An eye opener then was, when I asked the employer how the employee was performing against job specification and targets, I discovered how few micro businesses even had job specs for their staff, but that’s another story…

So, back to the original question

What advice or skills should you expect to pay for?

These days so much information is available for free, delivered right to our inbox just for the “price” of sharing an email address and agreeing to receive downloads of MP3s, .pdfs, attend webinars, teleseminars, and so on. We can get a plethora of advice if we’re prepared to trade some time and hear/ read the back stories that seem to be an essential part of why we should take notice of this particular expert. The freebies, when looked at objectively, are very often “what to” do so it’s wise to be prepared for the inevitable sales pitch that promises us the “how to…” And then it’s wise to look at the price tag compared to what the expert is offering in terms of how it will enrich our lives: $27, $47 or $97 doesn’t to me somehow add up to a likely Eureka! experience. And very few training products – self/ business improvement/ development are effective without accountability measures being in place…

What we should never expect to get free or “on the cheap” is one on one tailored help: advice, guidance, mentoring or training. Those who are offering that level of help have invested heavily in themselves in terms of time, money and effort: Why on earth should that be given away?

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