Without naming names, I used to work with an ad guy who was amazingly successful.
He wasn’t the best creative thinker or the most insightful strategist by any stretch.
But he was a genius at getting people to buy both him and his ideas, however average they both really were.
How did he do it?
He made the client or the prospective client feel absolutely fantastic about themselves, their company and their products. He showered them in so much praise that he ended up being the guy they wanted to hang around.
Such a simple strategy. So blatantly transparent. And yet – trust me – he made a fortune out it.
I have a confession to make: I have tried copying his technique.
I’ve sat in meetings and just hit the “praise” button. I’ve told people how clever they are, how brilliant and insightful their strategy is and how massively successful their campaign is going to be. I was trying to make myself the guy they wanted to hang around with.
I’m not too sure if the strategy really worked for me. My sample size of attempts is pretty small. What I will say is that the whole approach made me feel very awkward and uncomfortable.
It wasn’t so much that I was trying to manipulate the other person. It just isn’t me. I tend to be fairly droll – when I used to do stand-up comedy, I was more your Steven Wright performer than your Robin Williams. Pumping out turbo-charged enthusiasm just isn’t me.
Maybe that’s a shame. Maybe I would be more successful if I had it within me to jump up on a client’s boardroom table and indicate with my arms stretched wide and my voice at maximum volume just how successful the client is going to be and how excited I am about it.
I just can’t do it!
So, what’s the lesson?
We all need to find our own way of selling and communicating. Outside of work, my passion (beyond my family!) is judo. In judo, you eventually develop your own style based on your attributes – both physical and psychological.
If you are naturally strong and aggressive, you may become an attack-oriented player. If you are less strong and more reserved, you may focus on being a counter fighter. No style is right or wrong. The test is whether you can make it work.
I have decided to adopt the same perspective with presenting and selling.
All I can bring is my personality and my style of communication to the table. The true challenge is not to try copying someone else – but rather to have the courage to bring myself.