Friday, December 9, 2016

It's Not Personal - Just Business?

This phrase is written on a sticky note and taped to an area of my desk where it is always visible. I had a hard time getting used to this idea. I am so passionate about my work it is difficult to not make it personal. As a corporate sales analyst my job is to ensure operations run smoothly. When this doesn’t happen I am responsible no matter what, so I get it done right the first time. This is my standard, first to satisfy the customer and second because I have a good reputation to uphold. 

Recently, my company has gone through some transformations and this has created chaos within the ranks. Promises and reassurances I could make in the past are no longer there as I have little control of what happens. Thus I am unwilling to commit to anything. This situation has made client relations very strained, as we are missing previously standard deliverables. When deliverables are not met, the account need a head to knock, and that is me. I may have had nothing to with the passage of events, but it is still my head hitting the back wall with a thud.

I always took this very personally, as I had failed the account. This had never happened to me before. I had never had a client unhappy with my performance—wait right there—this is not my performance. This is the company’s performance. This is not a criticism of my work or efforts. It is a calling for support from the vendor (us) for additional assistance. This where I would always start to panic about how good or lousy a job I am doing and start taking it personally, get emotionally upset etc. This is not what is supposed to happen. The people who are concerned and or demanding are not disgruntled with me personally they are fighting for their needs. Sometime the customer needs to scream to have anyone listen.

As a writer, I have become a business woman and this same adage is true even more so with my own business. Have you ever watched the show “Shark Tank”? If you are unfamiliar, it is a reality show with five very successful entrepreneurs who are looking for the next big thing to invest in. People with newly invented products come in to the shark tank and ask for money and or support for their individual venture. 

It is the most accurate portrayal of big business I’ve ever seen. The five business leaders are polite, well groomed, and sarcastic. The contestants come and go one by one. The moment something or someone gets these five business experts attentions it gets really interesting. Pleasantries are put aside, the teeth come out, eyes are black and their only goal is to control that product for as little money as possible. The attack begins and the numbers start rolling. Just to describe how intense it gets, here is a quote “I swear to God if you screw this up for me, I will club you like a baby seal!” 

None of us wants to be the shark, but that is the way you need to be when selling your product, your book. You need to take all of the emotion out of it and tap into your inner shark. It is business. You are not personally attacking anyone. You are simply obtaining the best opportunities for growth. This is the only way you are going to sell and sell big. It doesn’t matter if you know Steve Martin or Simon & Schuster if you are not selling your product with the conviction that it is the best you are not going to get anyone’s attention.

This does not mean you need to become a heartless, horrible, non-feeling person. What it does mean is that you need to learn to put your personal feelings aside and make your business decisions based on facts not emotion. Sharks look at the facts, cold and hard, leaving any sentiment at the door. Will it sell or won’t it?

Again, this does not mean you lose your love affair with words, it can all fit together, you just need some practice. Search for your inner shark and then keep him hidden away until you need him.

“Sharks have been swimming the oceans unchallenged for thousands of years; chances are, the species that roams corporate waters will prove just as hardy.”

 ~Eric Gelman

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