Recently, while working with a team of experienced salespeople on a new outbound campaign to CEOs, I realized something was missing. But I struggled to find the right words to describe this “something”.
By listening to the calls, I knew that everyone was including all the pertinent details. They were creating engagement in their conversations and receiving permission to send along additional information. Great! Yet there was a quality absent from each call, something that would inspire greater interest, enthusiasm and detailed discussions.
Fortunately, my long-time colleague, Doug Dvorak, knew the answer. He shared with me a phrase I now find myself using frequently. It’s nothing new but it is a precise, efficient and effective way of describing what all of us should aim for in our prospect and customer conversations.
What is this phrase? Are you already practicing it?
The phrase is “executive presence”. Reading more about it in various publications and journals, I realized it is most often presented as a trait of excellent leadership. Something to be practiced and achieved by those managing a team or teams of people. But it also applies to superior communication skills, in both sales and customer service.
Simply put, executive presence is one’s ability to inspire confidence in others. When our customers and prospects experience our confidence, they share more, honor us with their full attention, give us their loyalty, and provide us with more and greater opportunities.
What are the characteristics of executive presence?
When communicating with our prospects and customers the traits we want to continually practice and achieve are:
- Having a “vision” and articulating it in a clear and concise way. In other words, fully understanding and believing in what we are saying, and saying it in an effective and efficient way that everyone can comprehend;
- Understanding the experiences of our prospects and customers … and the experiences we create for them. We must bring compassion and empathy to our conversations. We must consistently seek out feedback on and improvements for our communication skills;
- Communicating with excellence in every medium (phone, email, social media, text, in-person and video) so that we can be heard and understood by a wide range of individuals; and
- Practicing “in the moment” listening skills. Putting aside our noisy thoughts and giving our full focus to our customer or prospect.
Executive presence is not only in the words we choose but in how we say them. When our tone of voice contains warmth, openness, patience, empathy and confidence, we engage others in conversation, we inspire trust and loyalty and … we close sales.
The “something” my experienced sales team was missing?
Confidence. Not a surprise, given that it was a brand new campaign and the audience was hard-to-reach CEOs. We spent time together reviewing, rephrasing and rehearsing the value of our campaign. We got rid of all the “iffy” language, the overly polite phrasing, and the upspeak. The calls that followed not only contained more detailed conversations but also created trust and began the process of building relationships.
While I’m not one that easily embraces jargon, I suspect you’ll be hearing more from me on the value and skills of executive presence.