How do I ‘hook them’ when interviewing, vying for a promotion, or closing ‘The deal’?
As many may know, ABC has a real hit on its hands with The Shark Tank! The stars are a ruthless, shrewd collection of diverse, self-made millionaires who judge, qualify, and either select or ‘de-select’ budding entrepreneurs for further investment. If you haven’t watched it, you will either love it or hate it. This show can teach us a lot…..whether we are selling a concept, a product, or ourselves….let’s face it: who isn’t in sales in one form or another?
I have several clients who are currently interviewing for a new position/promotion within their existing company or in some cases other positions outside their current employer. Many are seasoned veterans who have not had to formally interview in quite some time. How can they get noticed and stand out when so many of the individuals they are up against are equally qualified? This is an art – not a science – as we all know. Yet, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind:
- The devil IS in the details. So, when you are presenting yourself or your idea – in person, electronically, or in hard copy format – be polished in every way. No typos. Prompt thank you notes and emails. Be on time. Be prepared. All the details we often let go by the wayside the higher we climb in the corporate chain, COUNT. I am here to tell you – these small details and nuances matter.
- First impressions count. How are you showing up….do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident? (Not with false bravado and arrogance….with authentic knowledge of who you are and security that what you have to offer is of value.) Are you respectful? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you calm, cool, and collected? Are you well-spoken? Do you look them in the eye – personally and sincerely?
- Have a compelling value proposition. What are you selling – about you or your idea? Why and who cares? What makes you and this product/service different? Who is your competition – and how do you ‘trump’ them? What need are you filling? What desire are you squelching? Why you? Why now?
- Stay curious and open. Interviews and sales calls are often not so much what you tell them about you – it is what you ASK that makes the difference. Go broad and deep…industry, company, culture, leadership, current challenges, etc. The questions show your thoughtfulness (or lack thereof), and this is a sign of maturity and executive thinking.
- Pre-briefing calls and phone interviews are not casual get-to-know-you conversations. Treat every interaction like it is the real deal. Smile while talking (they can tell….even if over the phone). Keep the energy high – without being an “eager beaver.” Be prepared and professional.
- Know your stuff…..particularly the facts, figures, and data. If you are selling your concept, idea, or product – how much money have you made so far, i.e. what is your revenue stream? How much profit comes from that top line revenue number? How are you getting your product to market? What is your price per item? What percentage of that is profit? How do you plan to scale? What do you see your greatest challenges to be at this stage- and what do you recommend to fix it?
- Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm. Areyou real? Do you LOVE what you are doing? Do you LOVE the product/service/job you are representing? Do you believe your offering is the ‘bees knees’ and will knock their socks off…..really?!! Do you engage your audience like real people….and possible consumers? Are you meeting them where THEY are (not where you are)…i.e.: are you engaging them like the decision makers they are? Are you bubbling over…..in a contained, professional way? (Remember: energy begets energy….and enthusiasm SELLS.) Are you happy to be there?
- Finally,have your answer to the “So what?” question well engrained in your mind. In other words…Why YOU? It is not enough to share what you have done, where you have done it, etc. You need to be clear on what it is that you uniquely offer and the results you can bring to the table. Full stop. In preparing for your interview, ask yourself at the end of every question asked – did I make it clear what I uniquely offered and delivered? If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then start over and create sharp, crisp answers which leave your mark.These steps guarantee nothing.However, what I know for sure, is that if we don’t hit each of these steps with all we have; we will never make it to 2nd base…..much less make a home run. Sure, there are at least a hundred more points of advice to offer in order to get that second round of funding, secure the non-profit donor in order for you to ‘break ground’ on the new facility, close the first multi-million dollar deal in a new account, or secure the promotion you have been working toward for years…..for whatever the sale is we are trying to make. Yet, those bits need to be developed and strategically customized for the sale.These steps are simply the basic blocks to get the door opened. Whatever profession we are in….software startup, non-profit organization, charter school system, or volunteer effort…..these steps are the constants. THAT is how you will be remembered when stacked up against others of equal tenure and experience.
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.