Have you noticed? Lots of professionals have personality issues: arrogance, rambling, not following through, passive aggressive, lack of eye contact, sarcasm, inability to listen, lack of compassion, lack of tact, etc. Many aren’t even aware of these issues.
Selling professional services is about more than content, asking the right questions, etc. It’s also about who/how you are. To use executive coaching jargon, it’s about how you show up, or your way of being. Successful revenue generators have a way of being that is likeable, that makes people want to work with and interact with them.
A blindspot is a personality issue that turns others off, but that you don’t even know you have. It’s important to know what those blindspots are, and address them. Otherwise, it’s as if you are walking around with body odor, not knowing why people are staying away from you.
Here’s an exercise that scares the heck out of most people, but that I ask my coaching clients to do:
Go to a couple of people you trust, and ask them if they wouldn’t mind giving you totally candid, honest feedback. Ask them for 3 things that they think are your talents. Then ask them for 1 piece of advice about something that they think keeps you from winning more business, something about who you are or how you behave with others (NOT your business model, services, marketing message; you really want to get at your fundamental way of being with other people here).
Let me know what you find out.
Another approach is to get yourself videotaped in a mock client meeting (or a real one, if you can get permission). If you haven’t seen yourself on videotape yet, unscripted and in a business setting, do it soon!
Of course, once you get some negative feedback, the question is what to do about it. There are a couple of answers:
1. Turn your blindspot into a strength. For instance, I’m working with an IT expert right now who is gruff, tactless, and sometimes obnoxious in his relentless criticism. I literally have to hold my tongue on phone calls with him while he lambasts me, and I am delighted that he lives 1000 miles away so we don’t come to blows. But he is aware of this behavior, and lets his clients know up front that they will get unbiased truth, like it or not. He lets them know that some clients can’t handle this, and have been known to throw him out, but he will not compromise. So he’s turned his rough personality into an asset.
2. Work to correct your blindspot. If you’ve read Marcus Buckingham’s books (First Break All the Rules), you know that this is not likely. It is far better to focus on your talents, because few people can change their weaknesses without lots and lots of commitment and work. So good luck on this suggestion.
3. Find a partner/employees who can cover for your blindspot, if you have what might be called a fatal flaw. For instance, I’m working with one client who has a key executive who is a real jerk. Employees under him rarely last more than 2 months. But he can close large technical sales to non-technical prospects. So, the CEO of the company is isolating this guy, so he focuses only on technical sales, while filling in his other managerial roles with new people.
So, if you had to point the finger at yourself, what would you say your blindspot is?
(Mine, by the way, is a certain sarcasm and cynicism. I’ve dealt with it via #1, by marketing myself to clients as someone who is a natural skeptic who won’t drink the company’s Koolaid. My clients seem to appreciate that, and many investors especially appreciate having a skeptic on board to keep them from getting too bullish about potential opportunities.)
Finally, please don’t ignore the importance of this blog. It may not read as practical advice, but nothing is more important than how you come across to others.