Confidence: More Compelling Than Competence

This is a guest post by Derek Lewis, “America’s #1 Ghostwriter for Business Experts.” Learn more about writing business books at www.dereklewis.com.

The Secret to Performance

That’s the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you. – Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Dan never failed to astonish me.

If he had a class project due at 8:00 a.m. but had yet to start it, he would say, “Oh, I’ll just go talk to the professor. He’ll understand.”

There was no hesitation in his voice. He never wavered in his absolute belief that he would be granted an extension. And without exception, he always was.

Sometimes he probably deserved an extension. Mostly, he didn’t. But he could charm, cajole, and coerce every professor he ever needed to.

My coworker Craig had the same talent. He could enter a conversation with people vehemently opposed to his political views, but by the end of the discussion they would usually be nodding their heads as they reconsidered their stance. More than once, I heard, “I don’t know why, but if you ran for office, I’d vote for you.”

 

That’s the secret to performance: conviction. -Rachel Hartman

 

I have stood on the sidelines and watched these maestros conduct their magic. Occasionally, they would have to poke me to make me hide my astonishment, lest I let the cat out of the bag. You could say they were masters of manipulation, and that would be true in some instances. But most of the time, my two charismatic friends simply persuaded and influenced their listeners.

It helped if they knew what they were talking about, but I’ve seen them plunge into situations for which they had no preparation and come out with the upper hand. The strength of their magic did not come from their competence of the subject matter—it came from their conviction that, whatever the issue, they were right.

Confidence Trumps Competence

I am fascinated with people like Dan and Craig because their approach is so alien to me.

By my nature, I focus on facts and reason. My instinctive approach to selling, communication, and influencing used to be to present the facts in logical order, and then allow the other person to draw their own conclusions. From one point of view, I sold competence.

While that may seem an ethical and transparent approach to business, it made for a lousy living.

Competence matters. Sincerity and honesty matter. Ethics are a cornerstone of long-term success. These things are important. But when it comes to working, selling, and communicating—that is, compelling other people to act—competence and such have never been enough to bring real success.

My mistake was in leaving out the key ingredient that came so naturally to my cohorts: confidence.

 

Competence without confidence just doesn’t cut it. –Derek Lewis

 

Sadly, I remember the time I cost Craig (and our company) a major client. If we had landed them, the client would have been our biggest by far. The recurring revenue from the contract would lift our company from being a marginal player to an “up and coming” enterprise.

Craig’s discussions with the client had gone well. By the end of the big meeting, the client showed all the signs of having made their choice. Things seemed sure.

The next week, I was sent in to do a follow-up meeting—really, a meet-and-greet with the head honchos. I was nervous about taking on the client, though. It would mean hiring more people, learning some new tools, and significantly changing how we operated.

But the truth was that the client intimidated me.

5 Principles of Ultimate Influence

All of us must learn to influence others. Whether persuading your child to eat broccoli or supervising a team, the ability to influence is important to working with others.

In those situations, do you see the other person as an adversary? Do you resort to manipulation or coercion to try to get what you want?  Or do you understand how to influence and win that person over?

The World’s Greatest Influencers

The greatest influencers are not manipulators. They aren’t pushy. They don’t create animosity. Instead, they seem to win people naturally, effortlessly, making everyone happy with the outcome.

How they do it is the subject of this post.

 

BobBurg

Bob Burg is a speaker, a blogger, and a best selling author. He’s perhaps best known from his many stage appearances as a speaker for large organizations.  You may also know him by his runaway best selling book, The Go-Giver.  I have read all of his books and learned from all of his work.

His latest book is Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion.  It’s one of those books that you cannot stop reading.  I have dog-eared and underlined so much of the book that he likely wouldn’t recognize it if he saw my copy.

There are so many lessons in this book, which reads like a modern day version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Reading it, I realized that there are dozens of questions to ask Bob.  I chose to focus on the five principles of ultimate influence shared throughout the book.

 

Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is listen. –Bob Burg

 1. Control your own emotions

Bob, I want to ask you a question about each of your five principles to influence and move people to a different thought or action.

The first is to control your own emotions.  Why is controlling your emotions the very first step and why is it harder for some people than others?

Skip, as human beings we are emotional creatures. Sure, in certain ways we are logical, but we are basically driven by our emotions. That’s often very counterproductive. The problem isn’t that we have emotions (emotions are a wonderful part of life), it’s being “controlled by our emotions.” When this is the case we are simply not in a position to think clearly, to think logically and be able to take a negative situation or person and elicit a positive outcome. When we are in control of ourselves and of our emotions, the opposite is true.

For example: If a person says or does something you find offensive, it’s important that you be in control of your emotions and – as Zig Ziglar taught – “respond” rather than “react.” When you react, you are allowing that person (and your emotions) to control you; when you respond, you are in control of yourself and your emotions and are now ready to create an environment for a winning result for everyone involved.

bob-burg-scentsy

2. Understand the clash of belief systems

 

Your second principle is to understand the clash of belief systems.  This one may not be as intuitive so please tell me more about it.

A belief is a subjective truth. It’s the truth as we understand the truth to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s “the truth” (though we are usually certain it is). While our belief systems are a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television shows, movies, popular culture, societal mores, etc., it is pretty much formed by the time we’re six or seven years old. Some of these beliefs work for us, are productive and helpful, and keep us safe. Most are counterproductive and serve no constructive purpose.

 

Tact is the language of strength. –Mike Burg

 

So, we are pretty much controlled by a belief system we are not even aware we possess. Add on top of that, the person with whom we’re about to have a difficult interpersonal transaction is also controlled by a belief system that they are not even aware they possess. Now add to the mix that as human beings we tend to believe that others think as we think, and you’ve got the makings of a huge clash of belief systems.

We don’t need to understand their belief system; what we do need to understand is that their belief system is most likely much different from ours. Only when we consciously understand that are we in a position to proceed in a way that a mutually beneficial result can occur.

3. Acknowledge their ego

The third principle is to acknowledge their ego.  You say that the “ego is the ultimate driving force in everything people do.”  Give me an example of how to acknowledge ego in a legitimate way with sincerity.

Why Selling to the Top Can Leave You At The Bottom

If you’re in sales, you may have heard that you want to get to the top.  Why bother with people who can’t make decisions?

And then you attend a sales training session where you hear of the latest clever selling tactics.  How to get around the gatekeeper.  How to bypass everyone else and get right to the CEO.

You’ve heard some of it before:

  • Call just before or after business hours in the hopes the assistant isn’t yet on duty and the phone rings in the executive’s office.
  • Sweet-talk the executive assistant.
  • Be vague, misleading or yes, even lie in order to make it to the CEO or the highest executive you can.

I’m filled with empathy for the sales profession.  After all, my first corporate job was in sales.  (I was also a lawyer, so that may have made me the most hated guy around: a lawyer salesman?)

Whenever possible I enjoy answering my own phone, especially if I know it’s a sales call.  I’ve stunned sales people who are stammering on the other end of the line.  One guy was so ready to give his misleading lines to an assistant that he literally hung up when he realized he already had me on the line.

But, this post isn’t about how to sell to the CEO.  This is about when to sell to the CEO and when not to sell to the CEO or C Suite.

Here’s the problem with the “sell to the top” theory that most trainers don’t understand:

It can be a waste of time.

You can spend all kinds of time trying to reach someone in the C-Suite instead of identifying the person most interested in your product or service.  Let’s say I’m the CEO at a large company, and you call me about office supplies.  The fact is that there’s likely someone in charge of this area, and it isn’t the CEO.  Do you think that the CEO is going to listen to your presentation and then command the purchasing department to override all protocols and buy staplers and highlighters from you?

It can hurt your chances.

Would Your Client Write You a Check After Your Sales Presentation?

 

Would your prospect write a check for your sales call?

Read that title again.

What?

You’re thinking you want the sale.  You don’t expect to get a check for the call.  You’re lucky to have gotten the appointment.

Neil Rackham is the author of many books like Spin Selling, Rethinking the Sales Force and a number of other books.  Years ago, when I was a new sales executive, Neil spoke at one of our meetings.  After his presentation, he met with a small group of us.  Most of the discussion I’ve long forgotten, but I’ve never forgotten this question.

Bring Incredible Value

He asked:

“Is your sales call so valuable that your client would write a check for your visit?”

He obviously wasn’t suggesting we collect checks after every client meeting.  But he was saying that we should bring value to the call.  More value than a sales pitch.  We should do our homework and be able to offer solutions to the client beyond simply closing a deal.

Selling Fearlessly

Photo by amhuxham on flickr.

 Because of his nearly four decade career in sales, Robert Terson is often labeled a master salesman.  He retired from his advertising company in 2010 and is now writing and speaking about sales.  Robert recently released Selling Fearlessly.  After reading the book and talking with Robert, I realized that the book is more than a sales book.  It’s a life book.  It could just as easily be titled Living Fearlessly.

 

Why Relationships Are Important

Robert, alreaSelling Fearlessly Coverdy in my interactions with you, I can tell how important relationships are to you.  Why are relationships so important to success?  How are you able to build relationships with so many people so quickly and easily?

First of all, Skip, I’m not sure the words “so quickly and easily” are applicable. One of my favorite expressions is, “The Tortoise won the race.” It is true that I’ve literally established a few hundred strong relationships over the past 19 months of networking, but it’s been done in a “slowly but surely” methodology. I’ve been going about networking the same way I’ve interacted with people all my life: caring about them, showing an genuine interest in them, trying to help them all I possibly can, creating friendships wherever I go—the bank, cleaners, post office, you name it. I take the time to get to know people well. Then, when I go out to do my errands, I’m not just doing mindless tasks; I’m going out to see my friends. It makes life so much more pleasant and meaningful. It’s smelling the roses and enjoying the journey as you live your daily life. It’s living in the moment.

It’s the same way with networking. When people of interest follow me, I send out personal direct messages inviting them to talk, interact on a high plain. I offer to help them; and it’s not just empty rhetoric, it’s for real. It’s putting into practice what the late Zig Ziglar meant when he said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” It’s giving of yourself, paying it forward, so to speak; and people respond positively to this approach. Who doesn’t want to be around people who genuinely care about them? We all want that! What’s so wonderful about it is how it comes back to you in so many positive ways. Not always directly, but it does come back to you. Those who approach networking with the “it’s all about me” mindset, who are in a hurry to sell something without bothering to establish a solid relationship first, are foolishly self-sabotaging themselves, to say nothing about missing out on a lot of fun.

Let’s talk about fear.  It stops so many of us at various times.  Whether in sales or in life, how do you help people overcome it?