Tag Archives: Xerox

My Surefire Method To Kill Opportunity

I just got off the phone with a business owner interviewing me for an executive coaching role with his company. A great opportunity, I really wanted impress. But halfway through the call, I realized I was about to kill opportunity.

I was talking waaaaay too much. 

My Surefire Method To Kill Opportunity

As skilled as I am at creating opportunity with words. I am equally skilled at killing opportunity with words. Too many words.

Being Manic Impressive means being good with words. Using them to inspire, enlighten, cajole and entertain. We are schmoozers and storytellers gifted in the verbal arts. We use words to charm and delight our prospects, and influence them to act on our behalf.

But too much of a good thing is very often a bad thing.

The Double-Edged Sword

Eloquent words are great weaponry in most aspects of life. But like any weapon used incorrectly, words can inflict a lot of damage to yourself.  I happen to be very good at stabbing myself this way.

I’m like a ninja assassin. But I’m constantly taking me out.

It starts out great, with me passionately answering questions and giving great examples and stories of how awesome I am. And yes, in a job interview, you do need to sell yourself.

But I often don’t know when to stop selling. And overselling, like talking too much, can be deadly when it comes to opportunity.

Talking Yourself Out Of A Deal

In my early sales training with Xerox, one of the basic concepts they preached was knowing when to make an offer and then to shut up. “Don’t talk yourself out of a deal”, they would say.

Of course, I understood the concept, in theory. But a few years later, I would fail in real-time to succeed in the practice.

After three months of knocking on doors to sell training for a new company, I finally landed an appointment with a key decision-maker. If I could close this guy, I’d get a big account that would get our new firm successfully off the ground.

Things were going great, but for some reason, I was oblivious to all the buying signals this guy was giving off. I kept pushing and kept talking. Until he finally actually said, “Hey, are you going to talk yourself out of this deal? I already said yes. Please stop selling me!”

A Lesson I Have To Keep Repeating

This guy did me a huge favor. Talk about “teachable moment!” The lesson he taught me was worth far more than the two years of business I got through the contract he signed.

But despite all that, I find myself all these years later, still having to remind myself to keep it brief. Make the point, ask for the business and shut the hell up.

Or as in the case of an interview, answer the question and move on. Don’t belabor the point. One good example is enough. A solid story to show what you can do. Be brief, and you’ll give them more time to ask you more questions.  Then you can tell more (short) stories that prove your worth.

But if you, like me, cross that invisible line by talking too much, you might test their patience.  And you never want them to start wondering if you’ll be more trouble than you’re worth.

Don’t Kill Opportunity Like Me

Be smart. Choose your words wisely and don’t overwhelm people with them. Know when to ask for what you want, and then, SHUT UP! Let the other person respond without jumping in to fill the silence.

Silence can be your best friend. Lord knows I need him with me now.

What I Learned From Xerox On Making Resolutions Happen

XeroxWearing my best suit, clutching 25 copies of my resume and flat broke, I approached the Xerox booth at the SF Job Fair. They were the big blue- chip firm at the fair and had the longest line in the hall. I left to visit the other company booths until the Xerox line died down, then stepped up to take my shot.

I looked the sales manager in the eye, shook his hand and handed him my resume. He looked me and my suit up and down, then said, “Why do you think you could work at Xerox?” No doubt that question had thrown a lot of people back on their heels, causing plenty of bowing and scraping throughout the day.

But I was having none of that. I reached into my pants, hoisted my balls onto the table and replied, “Why would I want to work for Xerox? I’m a closer, and everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve made people money. What would Xerox do for me?”

That’s all it took.  He handed me his business card and said, “Call me first thing Monday morning.” He hired me Monday afternoon.

I learned three important things in my time as a Sales Rep for Xerox:

  1. I was not cut out for life in a huge multinational corporation
  2. My title of “Reproduction Specialist” was very misleading
  3. You can’t manage results – you can only manage activities

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