April 30, 2008

Confidence and Humility are NOT Mutually Exclusive

In the last week of my full-time employment a co-worker (and former consultant) told me she thought I would find consulting harder than I expected. I didn't know her very well but I knew her well enough to know she was referring to the selling side of consulting, and I could tell by the way she said it she didn't think I had the "selling side" in me.

I told her I agreed that most consultants struggle with the selling side of the job, mainly because you are selling "you". What you personally bring to the table is all there is to sell, and part of what you bring to the table is confidence. But many consultants struggle with the concept that confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive. The opposite of humility is not confidence but rather cockiness. Cocky consultants are annoying, irritating, and often difficult to do business with.

When I talk with any customer I know I bring confidence to the discussion. Confidence that I know what needs to be done or that I don't.

Cocky consultants always know the answer, regardless if they really do. Confident consultants are humble enough to know when they don't know the answer, but instill confidence they can find it.

She was right that I'm not naturally a sales person. I have friends who are and they could convince you to buy the dirt off your own floor. As a consultant that is not the type of sales person you want to be.

If you are selling on the basis that you offer a service you're selling on cockiness: "Buy me because I'm here." You should be selling on the basis of a business problem that you personally can help solve: "Buy me because you have this problem and I can help solve that problem."

Seth Godin had a great post today on Self Promotion that spurred this thought. Thanks Seth!


brendan cosgrove said...

Amen Brother! I had this post written in my head after I read Seth's blog too. Sadly I have already made some of the mistakes of giving a client a lower than usual rate, but as some say "when times are slim, vision dims." In this case the vision for my true value dimmed enough for me to concede to a HUGE discount on my rates.

All that to be said it affects confidence.

Kevin Sturm said...

I hear you. I had the opportunity to get a long term contract but at almost a 40% discount off my rate, meaning I have to work twice as much and take the risk of word entering the market that I'm willing to do work for a 40% discount.

In the end it just isn't worth the personal or professional hit.

angelin said...

Humility and Confidence need not be mutually exclusive. In fact they desperately need each other. Confidence without humility breeds meanness, self-righteousness, and arrogance. But the wisdom born from humility is lost to the world without the confidence to share it.
Viral Marketing