Our instincts tell us that when we’re selling ourselves, we should focus our pitch on achievement. In other words, we seem to emphasize the programs we launched, the deals we completed and the awards we’ve won. But what we accomplished is not necessarily the most attractive thing about us.
In 2012, a couple of Stanford men, Zakary Tormala and Jason Jia, combined their efforts with Michael Norton of Harvard to write a paper about where our real focus should be. They found that what really matters when selling yourself is potential – not accomplishment.
People often find potential more interesting than accomplishment because it’s more uncertain. That uncertainty can lead people to think more deeply about the person they’re evaluating and the more intensive the processing, the better the choice.
So, the next time you’re selling yourself, don’t only fixate on what you achieved yesterday. Emphasize the promise of what you could accomplish tomorrow.
Would you rather be told you “could” be the next big thing or that you “are” the next big thing? “Could” provides you with remarkable opportunities and eliminates pressure. In contrast, being told you “are” the next big thing brings enormous pressure and provides limits.
Marketing our business is no different than selling ourselves. We don’t need to focus on what we’ve accomplished, nor do we need to tell our clients the absolutes of our products and services. Our focus should be on the potential within them and how our offerings “could” catapult them to greater heights. Potential provides us hope internally and ambition to our clients.
Our next edition of Connect includes a cover article titled “Shaping Markets.” It discusses the inner lives of markets. Economists no longer study markets. They shape them. See what happens when you shape your market.
Our second feature, “In Perfect Harmony,” shows why data and sales are the emerging roles over the next five years and why you should make changes now to take advantage of this relationship.
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This is great stuff, David!