I recently ran for a seat on the condo board of the brand new community I live in. I lost. In front of about 60 people.
My reaction was a mixture of gratitude (“I think I just got spared a LOT of work”), huffiness (“How could they pass ME over?”), and a dash of embarrassment (“Oh no, I think I just looked like an IDIOT in front of a large group of people”).
In reflecting on what worked and didn’t about my little platform speech (I had three minutes to pitch myself to the group), I realized there are some important lessons about trust-based selling to tease out of my defeat.
My dominant strategy was to lead with high Intimacy and low Self-Orientation, and to differentiate myself a bit. How? By telling them first why they might NOT want to elect me. I shared openly that I’m a first-time home buyer and had never before been on a condo board – in fact, I had just made my first condo payment ever. My self-deprecation was effective, I think, in that it got a good laugh and set their expectations about what they could and couldn’t count on me for (couldn’t: Board/home ownership expertise; could: honesty and lightheartedness).
There was one thing I didn’t do that left my constituents understandably less than confident in my abilities. I was too humble. I fell into the trap that (sweeping generalization coming) many women do of being tentative about tooting my own horn.
Sure, I told them a little bit about my professional background (close to 20 years in consulting, the latter half with an emphasis on teaming and relationship skills, which lends itself well to community-building endeavors). But I didn’t let them know that when it comes to starting something up (new community, new board), I’m your woman.
I didn’t tell them that eight years ago I launched a business that now boasts a client roster of global companies that generate millions and billions in revenue each year. I didn’t tell them about the community service program I created that, within six months of its inception, was given a prominent mention in SELF magazine and then acquired by a national non-profit.
(Even as I write this, my brain is screaming: Enough with the tooting horns already!)
Bottom line: I didn’t think about what would be of value to them, link that to what I brought to the table, and say it out loud.
Of course, this is all speculation; I might have lost because they didn’t like what I was wearing – who knows. I think it’s safe to say, though, that next time I’d be more effective (and certainly less huffy and embarrassed) by doing the following:
I’d leave them with a more complete picture of me–not one that’s either over- or underexposed.
Seems to me these guidelines apply no matter who we are, what we’re selling, and to whom we’re pitching the sale: prepare and be honest about both your strengths and your weaknesses.
That and choose your clothes carefully.