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Fast Tip Friday: Toughness VS Politeness

Dec 2, 2022 6:45:00 AM


I've got a few topics that we're going to be sharing with you over the next couple of weeks. We are going to focus a little bit, as we get closer to the January 1 date, we're gonna focus a little bit on some goal setting and some goal accomplishment. Not just setting, that's the easy part. So pay attention over the next couple of weeks, I think we will have some good topics for you. Today, here's what I want to talk to you about.

When you're in business development, there's a constant push and pull about how should you behave? What matters most? One of the questions I like to ask sales position candidates is, "are you committed to being tough or polite in your business development efforts?" That's it, does business development require more toughness or more politeness? I bet most of you are going to say, "You've got to be polite, you can't be tough". I'm here today to challenge that. But let's talk about it. There's a couple things that do merit being polite. There's a constant balancing act, both politeness and toughness are required. I have got to tell you, Emily Post or Dear Abby, or whoever it was, was right, manners matter. You've got to be able to behave like an adult in an adult setting. Since business development should be adult to adult conversation, you've got to bring your manners with you. Do you have to put the drink in the bread on the right side of the plate at lunch? Not worried about that, but I am worried that you know how to behave inside the setting of a business development interaction with someone, whether it's live or on Zoom.

You've got to have the right manners with you. You've got to be professionally polite, and I'm not one of those people that says "if you're not 10 minutes early, you're late". I think there's some strategic advantages to being two minutes late, not 10 minutes late... but that's another Fast Tip Friday, sometime in the future, I suppose.

But being professionally polite is a requirement and that means keep your language appropriate. I know some of you work in some very tough business to business environments, but that doesn't mean that the drunken sailor language is appropriate, or just interrupting people because you feel like you have a point to make. So, manners matter and be professionally polite. That's where I think politeness needs to carry the call, but not really make the call effective.

Being tough requires you to do things to execute your business development process. If you don't have control, if you're not directing the conversation, and the questioning and the responses, and the setting of expectations about what happens next, I'm afraid you're not tough enough to really make it in the business development arena. So, what it requires, and when it requires you to be tough, is one you've got to ask people uncomfortable questions. Some of those questions are, "are we really in an opportunity to do business? Or are you just asking me for information, so I'll leave?" "What happens next?" "When will it happen?" "What are some of the reasons why this won't be a great opportunity, even if you love the product?" So you've got to be tough to ask tough questions and get uncomfortable.

One of our rules here at Growth Dynamics, in our business development process, is never leave a meeting feeling good. Too often, business development professionals get excited about a lot of interest, and a really great energized meeting, and everything seemed to go real well. But nobody asked the one question or brought up the one topic that would have killed the buzz of the whole moment. So, if you leave a meeting thinking it's all but sold, and you're about to get a PO, but you're not sure, you left the meeting probably two minutes too soon and you feel too good to have stepped out of that conversation. So, never leave a meeting feeling good.

Finally, toughness is emotional. Sales and business development is the hardest job in the world. I'm not telling you that it takes the most intellect, or you've got to be able to do math faster than anyone else, you've got to be an engineer or a scientist. Business Development is tough emotionally. The toughness requires you to be emotionally bulletproof. You can't let the result get inside your skin and upset you to the point that you want to knock off early, take the rest of the day, or even the rest of the week off. You've got to be emotionally bulletproof so you can rebound from any outcome, specifically, a negative outcome, and understand it's part of the process, it's not personal, and you're tough enough to keep going and makes make the next set of calls that will make a difference in your week.

Remember - I like polite people, but at the end of the day, I like people that know how to behave appropriately, bring the right manners to the table, but they're tough enough to do the things that most in business development don't have the courage or the commitment to execute. So think about it folks, toughness and politeness. Make sure you have them in the right order. Make sure you have them in the right volume. Make sure you know when to be both on a business development call. Thanks for your time and attention. Have a great weekend.