We all have barriers to overcome whenever we are striving to reach any worthy goal. In my book Prospect & Flourish, I outline five basic barriers to successful prospecting. They are:
- Not understanding the value of what you bring to others
- Fear of rejection
- Not knowing what to do or how to do it
- Your own Achilles heel
I always thought these points covered it, until at one point a few short years back I found myself watching an episode of American Idol with my daughter. A young lady steps in front of the judges, getting ready to sing and to make her lifelong dreams come true. During her performance, the judges begin to pick up an incongruence about her—there was something she was holding back, or perhaps overcompensating for. They couldn’t quite put their finger on it. During the critique, one of the judges asks the young lady, rhetorically of course, “Who are you?”
Her response was to the effect of “Who should I be?” That was when Simon Cowell (that infamous dream-squasher who not long before actually called the former boss of a previous contestant who had just quit her job, and asked him to give the lady her old job back) made this excellent point:
“The last thing you should ask another is ‘Who should I be?’ A good artist knows who they are.”
If you’re a producer, you’re a creator—there is no doubt about it. Each of us is an artist and a communicator. As an artist, we must be true to ourselves, and to who we are if we are to be of any real benefit to other people. I believe that this too, is one of the barriers to successful prospecting—when we go out and attempt to build relationships with people in a role that is not consistent with who we are.
Does this mean that if you sell in a profession or industry that may not suit who you are, you don’t belong in sales? Not at all—everybody sells. Sometimes discovering who you are is a process of elimination—learning about who you are not. Sometimes we learn that lesson at a high price. It also ties into a point I made previously about prospecting and exercise—pick an activity that you enjoy and stick with it. Here again, you should seek out ways to prospect and nurture relationships that are consistent with who you are.
Look at it this way—being true to oneself is perhaps one of the most ethical ways to prospect. Be honest with yourself, and you will be honest with others. We all have encountered people who exhibit one personality in one business setting, and are completely different at other times. Don’t fall into that trap. People will buy from you because they like you—and trust you.
Sales cycles take long enough—don’t slow things down by being someone or something you are not.
As Simon Cowell says, “Just be yourself.”