Think about this famous Dr. Seuss statement for a moment, “Today and every day going forward, there is no one alive who is YOUER than you.” Make sure you are aware of your unique personality and how others perceive you, especially in your face-to-face meetings.
How do I do this? Ah, I am so glad you asked.
The path to authenticity starts with learning more about yourself. In the big giant world of Self-Help and Personal Growth, there is plenty of information available for you to begin a self-discovery journey. What I am referring to is knowing your professional self. Having conscious knowledge of yourself and your feelings in addition to knowing how others perceive you is an essential attribute as a leader and sales executive. Your sales manager should be able to help coach you in this area. If you don’t have a manager, look for a peer to help you understand where you are. Hire a sales coach.
In a 2013 Harvard Business Review article titled “Be Yourself, but Carefully,” authors Lisa Rosh and Lynn Offermann write about five different types of executives or leaders that don’t have a realistic view of themselves or don’t have a good understanding about how they come across to others. Below are examples of how I would interpret their research as it applies to sales representatives. As you read the descriptions, see if you identify with one or more of the characteristics. Use your curiosity to say, “isn’t that interesting.” Only when you start to understand where you currently are, can you plan your path to where you want to be in the future.
• Oblivious – This representative reveals information and opinions in a manner that appears clueless or phony. They name drop about how they interact with key opinion leaders and other clients that use their product or service. This approach to selling makes the prospect feel like their opinions and business “don’t matter.”
• Bumblers – I’ve seen this type under my management. This representative is unable to read the prospects’ social cues, including body language and facial expressions. They make ill-timed, inappropriate statements. Often, they “show up and throw up” as we say in the business, and completely bypass relationship building altogether. Another example of this characteristic is the representative that orders Bob’s BBQ pulled pork for an office where the decision maker is a non-pork eater due to religious reasons. They failed to do the appropriate amount of pre-call planning and did not take the time to understand that the prospect is from another country and therefore was not aware of different social or religious customs.
• Open books – You guessed it. These people talk about everything. They tend to over communicate. They may be considered resourceful, and technically sound, but they are not considered to be trustworthy. This rep may be flashy. They like to speak about their new outfit or accessory. While the staff may be active in the conversation, the decision makers want to shop with you, not buy from you.
• Inscrutable –This may be a newer representative that is trying to feel comfortable and confident in their new position or an introvert that is not comfortable in sales. The inscrutable sales representative tends to stick to business as usual. They may use closed body language. They would show up and deliver information without creating rapport or long-term relationships. Prospects and clients would consider this person remote and inaccessible.
• Social Engineers – This representative or executive can manipulate people. The social engineer can make someone feel comfortable. They share traits with the Bumbler and the Inscrutable often the slow learner in reading social cues. This representative wants to get their prospects out to dinner meetings or off-site presentations.
Overall, an effective sales representative needs to have knowledge of their personality and how to mitigate his or her strengths and weaknesses. Here is a list of useful tools in the area of self-awareness that offers assessments online for a fee. Once again, use your network or coach to help you understand how to use the results of the evaluation.
DISC Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Good luck and Happy Selling.
I would love to hear if you have another assessment you have found to be helpful in your quest for understanding how you are perceived in a professional setting.