Q. I'm in sales and have noticed that most people in my industry exaggerate their successes ridiculously. Every seminar is taught by some...
Q. I’m in sales and have noticed that most people in my industry exaggerate their successes ridiculously. Every seminar is taught by some hyperactive person teaching, “How to Make Billions and Be Brilliant!” Is there a way to be successful without speaking in superlatives?
A. You’re correct that in the past it was common for ambitious people to introduce themselves with some version of, “Hi, I’m God, am tight with Jesus Christ, have put several solar systems in motion and in my spare time leap tall buildings.”
However, the business world is beginning to get burned out on superlatives.
I was told recently that the reason one of my long-term organizational clients originally selected me is I was the only consultant who didn’t speak in superlatives.
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The problem with always dramatically exaggerating is people have done it for so long, most business people do the following communication math: They take whatever you say, divide it in half and figure they are still far from the truth.
It’s fine and effective to be optimistic and bold about selling yourself and what you do. However, when there’s absolutely no truth underpinning your statements, you lose one of your most valuable business assets: your credibility.
In the past, words like “extraordinary,” “amazing” and “miraculous” made us sit up and take notice.
Even though we all still want miracles, most of us are tired of being profoundly disappointed by claims of microwave solutions that cost nothing and deliver heaven.
After decades of hearing inflated promises, the truth has actually become a marketing niche. Just look at the success of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.”
Dove’s innovative marketing strategy is to use real women of all ages rather than airbrushed photos of teenage girls. It has grabbed its customers’ attention because its truthful approach stands out in an industry drenched in claims of physical perfection as an achievable goal.
Change in business strategies happen about as quickly as a huge ocean tanker can reverse direction. Most people are still riding a dinosaur approach long after the ice age has taken hold.
Consider yourself an early adopter of new communication technology when you make realistic promises.
You may be an exception to sales by superlatives, but when your customers freeze out your “fantastic” colleagues, you will already have established yourself as a new species of salesperson — one who sells and delivers.
The last word(s)
Q. I’m seriously thinking of starting a business before I have children. I don’t want to be “mommy tracked.” Would running my own business make a difference?
A. Yes. As a working mother, I can tell you, it’s hard to get “mommy tracked” when you’re the mommy who owns the track.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube