First of all, let me say how appalled I am at my lack of consistency with posting! My new year’s resolution is already dissolving into a million tiny fragments… :( …I am utterly ashamed and I promise to do better *fingers crossed*.
Back to present:
A few days ago, I was in an interesting meeting that taught me a thing or two (actually, four things) about life, passion and business. Two young ladies came around ‘the Office’ to pitch to ‘the Boss’ about their budding photography and PR business. One of them, the lady photographer among the two, took over the conversation, telling us a story of how she left medical school to pursue her passion in photography and now was a documentary photographer for one of the most powerful men in Nigerian politics within a few months!
Just listening to her, I learnt four incredibly genius lessons I will like to share with you.
Study your prospect like an exam
I had to give it to her. She KNEW my boss – his quirks, his alter ego, the little things that made him nod passionately all through her pitch. Heck, even I was sold!
It was obvious she had gone through his profile and studied his personality so much that she understood his vision and his pain points.
My take out from this – never go into a pitch without knowing your target as you would the back of your hand.
Don’t tell it. Show it.
It is never enough to say you can ‘do’ something; you need to show it. Though she spent time telling us about her passion, the most dramatic effect on us was what she did just before we closed the meeting. She insisted on (more like, bullied us into) taking our pictures then sending to us as keepsakes. To the boss, there was no greater demonstration of passion than showing proof of what she loves doing and what we would be missing if we decided not to go through with doing business with her team.
It worked! She got invited to send us a proposal. In fact, she got the job. All that was left was for her to name her price.
My take out from this – don’t just tell people how awesome you are, show them. Do you have case studies? Take that along with you during a pitch. Is there a way to show what you can do right there and then?
People are attracted to confidence. Not arrogance.
She was far from arrogant. Her eye contact was superb as she looked around the table drawing every single one of us into the story she had woven around her personal brand. There were no moments of hesitation; rather, there were moments when she occasionally planted her fist on her other palm to reinforce a statement she had made. Halfway through the presentation, we were sold, not by arrogance but by the level of confidence and assurance in the value she was bringing to the table.
She not only got the job, she was recommended for other jobs, because of her open, accommodating and confident personality.
My take away from this – arrogance will only get you through the door. Your confidence will land you the jobs + referrals.
A well-defined personal brand can charge a premium. Easily.
Three things she did to up the ante regarding her personal brand – she came across as exclusive (she showed her reluctance to leave her present employer, which meant that if we wanted her exclusively, we would have to pay for her to come work for us); she had a compelling story (the story of how she left medical school halfway to pursue her photography passion showed us how courageous she was!); and she did not come to the pitch alone.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] There is a strange reason why I chose this photo to illustrate this point :D[/caption]
Regarding the last point, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of going for a pitch alone forgetting that when it comes to perception, there is definitely strength in numbers. I recall a time one of my colleagues at our start-up decided to go in for a pitch on her own. She came out burnt; the client of course mistook her brand for a small(er) brand, a far cry from the image we wanted to project.
As a small business owner, your job is to make sure you always put your best foot forward to look bigger than you really are. One of the ways you can achieve this is selecting shrewdly the people you choose to go with you for a pitch.
In the case of our lady photographer, she came with a colleague – another lady as young as she – and an older man, who was more of a calming presence during the meeting.
My take away – package your personal brand strategically if you want people to take you seriously.
How about you? What lessons did you learn from this?
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