By Todd Cohen
Many factors can affect one’s feeling of comfort and security for their jobs and livelihoods: A shifting and unsteady economy. Tumultuous global events. The unforeseen and unpredictable can shake one’s confidence to the core.
You see the same phenomena with anyone who has something to sell—which is all of us. Regardless of what you are selling—a product, a service, and of course, yourself, there are unfortunate instances of people taking any business and not quality business. Why? Your internal fear of allowing yourself to be vulnerable and accepting the business and responsibilities you know you can deliver at 100%.
Where things begin to veer off track is when people think they are going to lose their jobs or lose a sale (which is the same thing) they hold on tighter to them or take any deal. In doing so, you stretch yourself thin and tend to accept more and more responsibility. Subsequently, when people assume more responsibility than they can realistically handle, they become inefficient and less successful. In other words, holding on tighter in an attempt to ensure job security is actually harmful and professionally destabilizing.
What this means is that you cannot and should not attempt to be everything to everybody! When you try and to do it all, you wind up making bad decisions, which leads to settling and a feeling of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with your choices. In that event, everyone suffers: the client, the employer, your colleagues, and you. All because you’re hanging on so tight that you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable. In other words, a strong indicator of any success is your ability to be vulnerable and know your strengths, your weaknesses, and having the courage to walk away when necessary. It’s about having the bravery to embrace one simple concept—you will be more successful when you can successfully articulate your position and say “no” when you should. This is a simple concept that is in actuality very difficult to do.
Become vulnerable, improve job security, and get more at the same time. When people think of sales, the words “aggressive” and “pushy” can come to mind. It’s a product of many poor experiences dealing with sales staff. “Vulnerable” isn’t a word that you would often associate with sales—and that reason alone proves its importance. Vulnerability allows your clients and customers to view the entire sales industry through a new prism.
So how can you let go, become vulnerable, and actually improve your standing with your clients and colleagues? In a sales culture, everyone knows they play a vital role in the sales cycle. And regardless of whether their role is visible or not, it is an essential part of the sales ecosystem. In some cases an individual’s contributions may not be immediately seen, but he or she knows that their role is essential to clients ultimately saying “yes.” This is the essence of sales culture.
In organizations that are more siloed—and thus highly dysfunctional—there are people who believe that gripping very tightly to their jobs and staying beneath the radar will increase the odds that they will be “okay.” Here’s the problem with that theory. You are more likely to be seen as a valuable member of the company if you know and can communicate your specific area of expertise and stick to it. When you can communicate your value proposition in a compelling way, you make yourself vulnerable and more secure at the same time. Why? Because now people know what they are “buying” in you and you can now do a much better job.
Consider these points:
- Vulnerability is Tough: Letting go is hard. But by holding on to all the responsibilities, or taking any business that comes your way, you increase the chances of becoming mediocre because you can’t do it all—and you don’t have to. Being vulnerable means that you are able to say “no” to the so-called opportunities and business that are not actually quality business.
- Vulnerability is Nobility: Your ability to be vulnerable is noble. People want to deal with others who know what they do and know what they don’t do. In this way, being vulnerable earns you respect. Plus, you’ll find people will want to have you as part of their virtual team. When you are engaged to do what you do well, you increase your security, your role in the sales process, and the customer experience. Vulnerability is the desire to ask someone for feedback and be prepared to hear the answer and not be defensive. Vulnerability and defensiveness are diametrically opposed.
- Vulnerability is a Professional Skill: It takes a high degree of professionalism and maturity to know that you contribute in a certain way and in other ways, you don’t. Knowing where that line is and when not to cross it is the hallmark of a true professional and someone people want to buy from or someone people want to work with.
- Vulnerability is Cool: A sale is a complex series of interactions among people who all contribute some form of intellectual capital to the sales process. And it is through these interactions that clients or prospects get what they need to say “yes.” When you accept that staying focused on your own area of expertise is valuable, you’ll be at peace with being vulnerable. Most important, you’ll be confident and on your game. The sales team and the client will see this and they’ll say “yes!” Vulnerability is indeed money in the bank.
- Vulnerability is Attractive: Simply put, people will buy you and from you when they know you are real. Showing your authentic self and communicating plainly and directly is the key component here. People want to know that you can identify with them and that you understand them. Being truly vulnerable means that you are not afraid to show yourself.
Allow yourself to let go and reap the rewards that vulnerability affords.
Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters.