There is a scene in the Avengers movie, where Bruce Banner – the guy who turns into the Hulk – is asked, “how did you finally control your anger and can now turn into the Hulk on cue?”
Now all through the movie, he is asked this question, and just before he could answer it, something happens and the audience is left in the dark.
Till later in the movie, he says, “you asked me how I controlled my anger? You know the secret? The secret is that I’m always angry”. And then BAM he turns into the Hulk… and then of course continues to break everything. It’s a good, fun scene. And it reminds me of selling…
To Sell is Human
You never start selling and then stop selling. No, there is no start and end point. You are always selling.
Do you think children need a seminar on sales? I have by God’s Grace, three children… and I can assure you, these kids are trained salespeople! They know which emotion to evoke, they always learn quick, very quick… and most importantly, they never give up do they? So there is my daugher asking her mother, “can I have that choc-kate”. And my wife gives a very firm, “No!”. Ten minutes later, my daughter is all smiles and eating her chocolate! Pure tenacity wins, as long as there is a parent on the other side.
But like creativity which is usually educated out of our children as they grow up, so is selling “mannered” out of us as well.
Mannered out? Well, we are told that most of the important selling tactics are “bad manners”.
For starters, being “shy” is considered a good trait… a “decent” trait to have. So boldness is out.
Imagine that; we happily have given up on being bold so we can fit into this abstract concept of being “good mannered”… then we wonder why good guys are finishing last, if they happen to finish at all! (and before you beat this metaphor to death, don’t give me that “but why does it have to be a race” thing… )
The Nice Guys Are Finishing Last, IF THAT
Too many “nice” guys are losing out, because of this battle between two inborn traits of Empathy and Ego. In Urdu we’d call them Hamdardi and Khudi.
In the corporate world for example, you hear of “soft managers”… basically, people who are a bit “too nice” and therefore, allow others to take advantage of themselves. They usually get nowhere.
Then there is the complete-pain-in-the-neck manager, who is always cursing and shouting. No one likes him, but his saving grace is that he “gets the work done”. Gets the work done, sure, but is never invited to parties of course.
Do you want to be the guy who gets nothing done and is liked by everyone? Or do you want to be the guy who gets the job done, but no one likes?
Both options obviously suck.
Worry not my friend, there is a third option. You can be the super-freakin-star!
The Unashamed Quest for the Being the Best
We are born salespeople… we are always selling. But then we decide to stop. Why? Is it because we are told to give up on our ideas, so we automatically stop “selling” those ideas?
We need to start living again, by “packaging” our best ideas and then “selling” them for whatever “currency” we deem fit. Making sense?
Imagine for a moment, what kind of a person will you become if you are able to walk that fine line!? How will your life be impacted, if you are able to decipher the good from the bad, the truth from falsehood, the desirable from the excess, the signal from the noise… and then have the confidence and the “audacity” to take action on your Truths, your beliefs, your “story”!?
You know what, you’d be a damn Superstar!
Balancing Empathy and Ego
Chet Holmes, the multi-million dollar salesman and author of the Ultimate Sales Machine, nailed it when he described the perfect salesman as being someone who has his or her Empathy balanced out by his or her Ego.
- You need the Empathy to figure out the desire, the need, the problem… empathy helps you become the listener, the person who can solve the problem. And then the ego steps in and wants to be the one who provides the solution!
- The Ego pushes you forward, forces you into the limelight… it helps you by infusing you with the required confidence to raise your hand in the crowd, make that phone call, send that invitation and ask for the sale when required.
For example, Richard Branson has just the right balance of the two. He seems to be the guy who gets the work done, and who really understand how to inspire his team and have a lot of fun.
His recent “adventure” of allowing his company employees to go on paid vacations is part of that Empathy that feels the pain, and the Ego that steps in and does something about it, in a meaningful way.
Someone like Steve Jobs may be leaning a bit on the Ego side though, what do you think? Also, I wonder if any successful person can be successful by leaning on the side of empathy and not “having a sense of personal stakes involved”, not having much ego involved…anyways, I digress…
Beware of the Imbalance
These two balancing traits, if understood well, can help you reach new heights in your own development inshAllah.
Empathy and Ego both traits need each other to create that all-important balance.
Empathy, if left unchecked, can take you from understanding other’s point of view to being “too soft” and agreeing to each and every demand… because you do see the pain! At that point, the Ego must step in and demand action in spite of pain and helplessness.
Ego unchecked will have you go all “me, me, me”… but Empathy comes in and helps you “listen” more, understand the problem better, so you can help the other person more.
In My Case (gulp)…
For example, I have always leaned towards “empathy”. My sales process was always way too long… and I considered it “bad manners” to “talk about money” for way too long.
The Ego must be developed, in the service of the greater good of course (and I’m only slightly tongue-in-cheek here)… if I can not balance my empathy with some hard facts, with some stricter rules, I may never amount to any help to neither you, nor myself. We both lose. The ego must not allow that. The ego must be “allowed” to have a problem with losing on these grounds. It must fight. And empathy must give way to harsher demands and sharper tools.
A lot of people I know had this limiting belief… this is the limiting belief that I had: if you are rich, you must have “sacrificed” being a good guy to get there. Basically, good guys are supposed to finish last it’s OK, and you can have the Porsche if you are willing to be the jerk.
I think we need more good guys driving Porsches, don’t you think? Let me know in the comments section below.