Passion is good – especially when you are running the show. When I meet a business owner or entrepreneur who isn’t excited and confident about what they are doing, I know that the company is heading for tough times. There are so many challenges for small businesses that sometimes the leader’s enthusiasm and optimism are the key to finding success at the end of the day.
Even though it’s good to talk to your customers, employees, and partners with passion, though, it can quickly become a liability when you have to sell yourself or your company. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if your main sales tactic is to share your excitement about what you do, then you are going to lose a lot of opportunities (and you’ve probably lost out on a bunch already).
Here’s the problem: getting people excited about what you are excited about is hard. It takes a lot of energy, and I mean a lot. Even if they are a receptive audience, selling by the force of your passion alone is hard, and not every prospect is going to be receptive initially. Think of the last time you tried to convince a friend to like a restaurant you enjoyed based solely on the fact that you liked it. It’s not easy…and they’re your friend!
I’ve met many entrepreneurs and business owners who are exhausted by trying to convince others of the value of their products and services. Unfortunately, that means they start selling less, because either consciously or subconsciously they start to avoid conversations where they have to sell.
Why is it so hard to sell with your enthusiasm? Because inherently your audience doesn’t care about what you are excited about. It’s not meant to sound harsh or cold, but everyone you talk with has their own problems that they are focused on. When you come in and get all excited about what you want to talk about…well, their brain shuts down a little bit. You are trying to move them with the force of your personality, and 9 times out of 10, that just doesn’t work.
That doesn’t mean you should hide your enthusiasm; it is a critical ingredient to success. You’re still going to use your passion to help sway others, but you’re going to use it a little more strategically. Instead of leading off with your excitement like a hammer, leave it in the tool belt (I figured I’d stretch the metaphor a bit). At the beginning of your sales conversations, keep the focus on the other person. Find out what their challenges are and what problems they are trying to solve. At some point, you are going to find a way that what you are offering can help them.
But don’t start vomiting all the ways you are awesome just yet – simply offer your services and see if they are interested. If you’ve done a good job connecting what you do with what they need, they’ll be interested. At this point in the conversation, they’ll want to know if you have confidence that you can do what you say you can do. And BAM – that’s when you hit them with the enthusiasm. It works because you’re not trying to sway them completely, rather you are demonstrating your belief and your confidence. That is the right place for your passion – to reinforce the fact that you can help them. That will help transfer your confidence to them – and that’s powerful.