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March 10, 2020

Harnessing the Power of Imperfection in Sales

GUEST: Dawson Cochran, Managing Partner,
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These days, it seems romance can only be found on dating sites.

If you want to find love, you need to market yourself online. And that means…choosing a picture. 

So, do you use the one 7-year-old picture of you with the perfect soft light to make an angel cry, or the one from Tuesday with you in the pizza-stained sweats?

Dawson Cochran, Managing Partner at ValueSelling Associates, thinks you should opt for the pizza-sweats pic every time.

Dawson came on the show today to talk about how powerful imperfection and authenticity can be in sales. So, naturally, the dating profile conundrum came up.

Dawson says, while the pizza-sweats photo may not be as enticing, at least it’s honest. It’s genuine. It’s you.

And any relationship based on authenticity will be stronger, whether it’s a romantic, platonic or business relationship.

People want to deal with real people.

We talked a lot about how to harness the power of imperfection, going over:

  • Why authenticity in sales is hard, but worth it
  • Why people need room to fail
  • How overcoming adversity reveals character

This is a fun topic and one we’re excited to cover today, so let’s get to it!

Being genuine is hard, but powerful

Trying to be perfect is exhausting. It adds tension to every word of a conversation, it makes people uncomfortable and it makes for a really annoying social media feed.

And it’s pointless because you know you can't possibly succeed. We all know nobody is perfect.

But trying to be perfect isn’t just a waste of energy — it’s a waste of time.

Because nobody even wants perfect.

It comes across as fake to everyone else because, well, it is fake. If we all know nobody is perfect, then seeing someone pretend they are is unsettling.

Anyone who has watched enough serial-killer shows knows not to trust perfect. I mean, who wants to end up as that one neighbor in the documentary?

“I can’t believe it, he seemed like he had such a perfect life…”

In any relationship, business or otherwise, everything comes down to trust. And unless people see your imperfections, they aren’t going to trust you at all.

You can have all the tech in the world, but ultimately, any business relationship is going to come down to two people across a cup of coffee.”

DAWSON COCHRAN at ValueSelling Associates

 

Being authentic is really powerful because it fosters trust, but also because it’s rare and risky.

It’s risky because it makes you vulnerable.

Being genuine means showing people the real you, not some character you play when the hair and makeup team are done. So, if people don’t like you when you are being genuine, they don’t like you.

You can’t just brush it off as them not liking your hollywood avatar — you have to own it. That’s what makes it so hard, nobody loves finding out other people don’t like them

Which is why it’s so rare.

We all need room to fail

Being genuine shouldn’t be so rare, though.

We want to harness the power of authenticity for our sales team — and we can’t do that if everyone on our team seems like they’re trying to catfish our prospects with an awful dating-profile version of themselves.

That means we want honesty and openness from our team. If someone comes in who has obviously been crying, saying they had a rough night because their dog died should be a perfectly acceptable response when someone asks if they are OK.

It’s better than darting murder-eyes at whoever asked the question and sternly saying, “I’m fine…”

Still, we also want to be professional. And it’s possible for people to cross the line into being too open in the workplace — some things should only be shared with your therapist.

But where is the line?

If everyone is too concerned about this question, terrified they might cross it, we run into the same problem where everyone tries too hard to be perfect.

Often, you only know where the line is by crossing it.

Which means we need to give people room to fail.

I want to work with somebody who, every once in a while, runs into a wall so hard they break their nose because they're pushing and they're trying new things.”

DAWSON COCHRAN at ValueSelling Associates

 

As we said, being genuine comes with risks. You might alienate some people, overshare or possibly even mess up a sale.

But trying new things is good. Whether it’s with new strategies or better authenticity, we don’t want our team stagnating, right?

In order to see what works, you need to find out what doesn’t work. So, be forgiving when people cross the line on occasion.

It means they’re learning. 

Overcoming adversity is better than never facing it

Making mistakes is also such a huge part of what it means to be human. We don’t judge people for their mistakes, we judge them for how they deal with them.

It’s another example of why people don’t connect with perfect people.

There is a reason so many articles have been written about why it’s better to give a passionate speech with a few mistakes than a robotic reading of even the greatest script.

Like we said, people need room to fail, and pre-scripted, over-rehearsed material takes no risks and doesn’t seem authentic, it just makes you seem like you have a creepy $500 headshot as your dating-site picture.

We love people who overcome adversity, not people who avoid it.

But this also comes with a responsibility to own up to your mistakes and admit when you don’t know something.

It’s hard to admit your mistakes, but it shows you are trustworthy and humanizes you.

It also models the behavior you expect from others. If you want other people to own up to their mistakes, lead by example.

The same applies to saying “I don’t know.” Nobody expects you to know everything and everyone around will get a strong buzzing sensation in their BS detector if you pretend you do.

What people will judge you on is how you overcome gaps in your knowledge. If you really should know something, the onus is on you to find the answer. 

Handling adversity brilliantly with a client can raise your stock much more than not having a problem in the first place.”

DAWSON COCHRAN at ValueSelling Associates

Gaps in your knowledge are another opportunity to overcome adversity and reveal your character.

Seize the opportunity to show your true character, not the bad dating-profile version.

This blogpost includes highlights of our podcast interview with Dawson Cochran, Managing Partner at ValueSelling Associates. For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

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