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Use Your Charisma to Sell Professional Services: Part II
You know your product is good. But clients don’t always respond positively to the pitch.
So, like every professional service provider who’s ever experienced difficulty with closing sales you ask yourself: “is there something about my style that’s putting people off?” Chances are, the answer is Yes.
In the last posting we began examining the forces that can lead professionals selling their valuable services to experience client hesitation, “kickback” or negotiations that may force you to accept lower margins. Something needs to be addressed if the sales process regularly feels like this:
By contrast, we’ve all experienced that magical moment at client meetings – just like catching a fish when you least expect it – when you realize your company’s services have been bought in, apparently without any conscious effort on your side. There you are, a trusted adviser at the top table, wondering if it was just luck or something that you did right.
Actually, big brands as well as smaller service provider companies are busy with the same thought process. A recent survey by Corporate Executive Board quoted in this blog found that Brands that can connect with their buyers on an emotional level will see 2 times more impact.
Out there, you’ll find an infinity of books, training and guides to develop assertive sales techniques. These tactics will surely give a short-term lift. But what if they don’t address the deeper and more lasting effect you might have on people?
That’s where charisma comes in. As we’ve seen, charisma is the ability to establish instant rapport, so lowering barriers of distrust and thereby increasing influence over others. Not just as a salesman, but for life. Charisma is the unique combination of behaviours, vital energy, verbal style and body language that makes up our personal communication style and helps define our effectiveness in influencing other people.
There is no right or wrong about charisma. And everybody has some, even if we’re seldom in touch with it. But there is greater and lesser effectiveness. And there is appropriateness to context. Just as purple or orange won’t suit every wall, so communication styles must fit the context.
We know that not everyone can get away with telling a joke about the deceased during a funeral oration. And for a wedding speech in front of a family crowd, telling that anecdote about the bridegroom’s past sexual indiscretions generally falls flat – even though it seemed so funny in a bar during the stag night.
In just the same way, it may be that the default communications style being used to sell product just isn’t right. You may not even recognize what it is you are doing.
In the last post, we differentiated between the ‘Influencers’ – those able to gain acceptance for their pitch while enjoying opinion leader status and premium pricing; and the ‘Malleables’ – those who get pushed around and forced to accept rethinks, compromises, and discounts. This time we’ll look in detail at how the ‘Malleables’ may be allowing the limitations of their charisma profile to get in the way of effective sales and execution.
The ranking of these behaviour types and the way they affect personal charisma isn’t a random list of the “ten useful habits” variety. This is all part of a complete methodology designed to boost effectiveness by mapping, measuring and managing the way we influence others. Communicate Charisma offers the tools to visualise each person’s individual charisma assets, and so offer professionals vital clues in how they might modify their profiles to raise effectiveness. For an overview of our online self-assessment process and methodology, visit www.communicatecharisma.com.
Charisma is really the combined result of behaviours in each of these seven dimensions or classic personality areas that form the bedrock of all social behaviour. The types of energy or behaviour that can alienate or antagonize customers tend to show at the margins of each category, while “social behaviour” tends to occupy the median zone. So acquiring the ability to “dial down” or “ramp up” behaviours in specific areas where we we may find either very high or very low levels of energy, is a useful skill.
It’s tempting to think that mobilizing high levels of energy will usually guarantee success, while more discreet postures signify weakness. Yet this isn’t always so. Bragging, boasting and self-aggrandizing tends to put off customers, while modesty and discretion are seen as virtues in trusted advisers – within reason. A posture that’s too compliant, dependent or self-effacing will also have negative impact.
Here are the types of limiting behaviours typical of ‘Malleable’ types in each of the seven charisma dimensions.
High-energy limitations: ‘Über’ service providers who dominate pitch meetings with too much self-assurance are unlikely to be active listeners and may seem arrogant or insensitive, quickly alienating clients.
Low-energy limitations: Reclusive behaviour or low self-esteem makes it harder for clients to find “reasons to buy” and looks just like extreme shyness. Clients prize service providers modeling more decisive and extrovert behaviour.
High-energy limitations: Overly strong beliefs and tireless convictions quickly translate into the kind of sales pressure that may smack of desperation. Refusal to listen to or respect potential clients, will quickly forfeit their trust and render the sales pitch useless.
Low-energy limitations: Uncertainty or persistent unwillingness to reveal any personal convictions can end up disengaging potential clients or reducing goodwill. As this reluctance can appear evasive, it won’t win many new clients.
High-energy limitations: Constantly dealing with the needs of others rather than asserting one’s own priorities undermines the negotiation and shows readiness to sacrifice financial self-interest. Any symbiotic behaviour suggesting the adviser can’t survive without the client, will ring warning bells.
Low-energy limitations: Self-centred, uncompromising and inconsiderate are labels used for service providers unwilling to share their method or execution with clients, or put themselves in the place of those doing the hiring.
High-energy limitations: “Driven” or frenetic energy can be quite disarming, yet buy-side clients may be alienated or threatened by it. Any abrasive or insensitive show will provoke opposition if it’s experienced by the client as egotistical and self-aggrandizing.
Low-energy limitations: We associate solutions-providers with energy and decisiveness. So low drive, limited energy and a ‘laid back’ posture that looks overly compliant, runs the risk of disqualifying such a person from important service roles.
High-energy limitations: When the softer side turns to ‘touchy-feely’, this can irritate pragmatists or empirical types. Softness creates vulnerability if it means becoming a hostage to whatever goodwill others might feel.
Low-energy limitations: Those who make no effort to build emotional ties or integrate with company culture can be seen by clients as selfish, uncaring or even ruthless. And most people who conceal their true selves are hiding something, prompting distrust among the staff.
High-energy limitations: When following high standards means inflexibility, failure to establish common ground may appear abrasive or intolerant. Others may find a resolute obsession with principles to be intimidating and implicitly critical.
Low-energy limitations: Those who stand for nothing may look evasive or unprincipled, because trust cannot be built around endlessly shifting positions. So unwillingness to take a coherent stand may end up undermining a person’s integrity.
High-energy limitations: Hollow dreams are not plans for the future and clients want clear roadmaps. Visionary people can find it hard to come down to earth and listen to what’s really happening, instead of alienating clients by appearing overly forceful and dogmatic when talking about themselves .
Low-energy limitations: A world without imagination makes it harder to share powerful new possibilities with clients. And without Vision, it’s much harder to engage people, as focusing only on what is known offers little help in exploration.
In the next post we’ll examine how strengths and range in each of these seven communications attributes will help communications effectiveness. To do so we’ll review the positive strengths associated with each of the Charisma Dimensions and both high and low energy profiles. And of course, we’ll discuss how to “accentuate the positive” by learning to emphasize our strongest suit.
For any professional, the ability to map, measure and manage a personal charisma profile will help them to strengthen their rapport with clients and increase the chances of a successful, premium priced sale executed on their own terms – and not on those dictated by the Purchasing Department.
If you’re intrigued to know what your charisma profile looks like, then click here to visit the Communicate Charisma website. First you’ll need to ask us for a referral code allowing you to take the self-assessment test.
You can access the third and final part of this post by clicking here.