By Sales Keynote Speaker and Human Behavior Expert Connie Podesta
When it comes to top salespeople, ego comes with the territory. That bullet-proof attitude of self-assured confidence is what allows them to step out of the crowd and into the spotlight. It gives them the charisma to persuade and influence. It fuels their drive to close the deal and be the best.
It’s also what can stop them in their tracks.
I’ll give you a personal example. Years ago, I was working to land a keynote speaking engagement with a blue-chip company that I REALLY wanted on my client list. I knew, without a doubt, that I was the right person to “wow” the crowd at their annual event.
When the event organizer called, I was thrilled! She started with a simple question: “Are you a motivational speaker?”
With great energy and enthusiasm, I pitched all the ways that I could powerfully inspire her audience and described why I was the perfect motivational speaker for the job. Unfortunately, when I stopped talking long enough to take a breath, she explained that they were actually trying to avoid a motivational speaker for this event.
I knew better than that. And yet the adrenaline rush took over, putting my ego (and my mouth) in front of my business sense. I had instantly launched into Sales mode BEFORE I asked questions or listened to what the company actually wanted in a keynote presentation. That’s a sure-fire formula for failure. (And yes, that cost me the job.)
I share that story because we’ve all had moments like that. When we accidentally trip over our own egos and have to pay the price. To be clear, ego itself is not a bad thing. Especially in sales. That double-shot of confidence is often a prerequisite for success. But never forget that ego unchecked can mean big trouble.
The next time you’re trying to close a deal with a new customer, compete for a new job, or just interact with another human being, STOP. Listen first. Ask smart questions, and then let the other person talk. You’ll get your chance to speak, I promise.
One way to help frame these interactions as “listening exercises” is to put on your “Service” hat before your “Sales” hat. You can’t help someone solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. Shift into investigative mode first.
What does this person really want and need from you? They will almost ALWAYS tell you—or give you plenty of clues when you are attentively listening for those answers. Or maybe they don’t really know what they need, and you have the opportunity to help them figure that out. When you can provide that kind of help, you become the real hero. That’s a powerful way to build your relationships AND your ego.
Once you determine a customer’s needs, the sales part is easy. Just meet those needs and deliver your products or services with professionalism and character. Piece of cake!
Many great sales teams are led by people with overflowing confidence and bigger-than-life egos. But if they want to be wildly successful over the long term, they need to keep those egos in check, get out of their own way, and remember to always listen first.
To learn more about this topic, check out my short video above, Quit Letting Your Ego Get in the Way, which is part of my series called Top 10 Things You Need to Quit to Be a Better Salesperson. Click here to check out my YouTube channel. And if I can help your team to master this important lesson, please give me a call!