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Is Imperfection a Strength?

Conventional sales people make the fatal mistake of predicating their sales success on mirroring and trying to replicate the characteristics of the most gifted, naturally talented sales people who instinctively sell by force of personality, charisma, sheer will, conviction, and leadership skills. These are the quintessential sales people who can sell the proverbial ice to Eskimos. The reality is these skill sets are not replicatable with the vast majority of the selling population.

As hard as you try, natural talent has its ceiling. It used to always unnerve me when people would proclaim that sales people are born and not made. I always thought it was a little arrogant and close minded, especially since I was not a natural born sales person. But, over the years I have come full circle.

Let me explain. There is an element of truth in the statement. There is a certain percentage of sales people (1-3 percent) who are naturally talented and truly unconsciously competent. They were gifted sales people before they showed up for their first sales job.

The remaining 99% of us mere mortals, through hook and crook, must figure out a conscious way to take a different path to be in the upper 5% of the sales profession. It is a recipe for disaster to believe we can try to replicate the skills of the true naturals. Yet, the majority of sales people I train foolishly try in vain because it does look easy. And it really is easy for those who can do it exceptionally well.

The reality is, if you truly want to be successful in sales, and you are not naturally gifted, you have to do something very different to compensate for your shortcomings and deficiencies. If you do not have the ability to light up a room with authority, trust, confidence, expertise and charm with just about anyone, then try the exact opposite—vulnerability. Radical honesty, vulnerability, humility, imperfection, and a dose of humanity, represent very strong attractors. More importantly they are trainable, unlike the unattainable rainbow most mainstream sales people pursue.

Although we all have been conditioned, especially men, to never show weakness and vulnerability, it is exhausting, inauthentic and not real. When you lead with imperfections and vulnerabilities you weaken the grip of your customer's defenseses and their invulnerabilities. Perfection imaging is the enemy of full disclosure, the truth, being real and transparency.

More sales people would have credibility, if they only suspended their ego by being authentic and less-than-perfect, than by selling with the unattainable goal of true authority, leading expert, force of will and charm. The former is a learned skill set, the latter is not.

When your selling posture is not all about projecting perfection, you subconsciously grant others permission to feel comfortable in their own imperfections (their problems), and since sales is all about locating problems, what better way to get customers to feel comfortable in dropping their defenses.

When you give up control, and you do not insist that you must be in the driver seat, you become very approachable and real. When you acknowledge and embrace that your offering is best suited for prospects under certain circumstances, and not well-suited for prospects under less than desirable circumstances, you become viewed as someone who is real and pragmatic. You become believable. You will be amazed at how it lifts the heavy burden of always having to prove, defend, push, sell and validate. When you have little to prove, all the pressure is off both parties. When you have little to prove, the burden shifts to the customer proving the value of their problem and commitment to change.

Is your perfection alienating your customer? It probably is if you have customers continually stringing you along, taking you down the primrose path, denying problems, filibustering you, commoditizing you and not valuing your time.

"Stop thinking of presenting yourself as better and smarter than others. People are inspired and influenced by those who are grounded. It is a person's faults that make them grounded. When you admit all your imperfections and come to terms with them nobody can touch you," says Scott Ginsberg.

The beauty of projecting a grounded sales position, is it forces you to engage the customer to prove their case for change since you have no crutch to fall back on other than the quality of your inquiry. When you sell from a blank slate, you put all the burden of proof squarely where it belongs; on the customer's lap.

Instead of using outdated and unrealistic sales strategies that are far beyond the reach of 99% of the selling population; get real, be authentic and adopt an attainable selling posture that is pressure free, neutral, and seeks to find the truth without all the distracting noise of the bells and whistles of your offering. The most important noise in a sales call that you want to bring out is the moan of a customer's problem.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com