Making business personal means getting creative in your approach to business development. Creativity is the glue that holds together the technical elements of your work. Don’t be afraid to get personal, creative, and improvisational in your business development and deal-making activities.
I recall once trying to secure a meeting with a company. Getting a meeting with this particular CEO was next to impossible. For whatever reason, this guy did not want to make time to sit down and hear my ideas. This isn’t an uncommon barrier in business. We all spend lots of time trying to get the attention of the person who will help make our next big break. For me, it was this CEO. I knew I had to get creative in order to secure my meeting with him. My goal was simply to explain how a partnership between our two companies would benefit us both.
First, I did my research. I found out from a source that this particular CEO was going to be flying from Miami to Los Angeles on a specific day and time—a six- to eight-hour flight. My task at that point was to find out what airline he was flying and what seat he would be sitting in. If you’re thinking these are extreme measures, you don’t know how important it is to be aggressive and determined to close a deal. I was willing to bet that going over the top in this particular situation would get me the result that I needed.
When the time came, I was already on the flight and seated by the time the CEO boarded the plane. When he saw me, his jaw dropped, and his eyes lit up. I had eight hours to convince him of my strategy, but it took only fteen minutes. Going in, I knew two things: what I wanted from him and what I had to produce to convince him I was right. I had already set the goal, and all that was left was follow-through.
Fifteen minutes after the plane took off, I’d already met my goal. In the airport afterward, I continued to follow his moves and watched him make his first phone call to his executive team to relay the news. Subsequently, I discovered that I would be working with the executive team in the months to come, and not the CEO directly. But because the order came from him, I knew that his team would be open and willing to work with me.
A straight shooter is someone who knows how to be direct and aggressive without being rude. I climbed aboard that plane because I knew the importance of one-on-one meetings. You may think that being trapped in a seat while I proceeded with my sales pitch would have made the CEO angry or made him withdraw from our conversation. It might have, if I wasn’t smart about it. But I’ve learned that being aggressive doesn’t always mean being intimidating. I never want clients to feel intimidated, but if they know what lengths I went through to speak to them, then that element of pursuit should express my seriousness about the business relationship. It is all in the approach.
Yes, I had the upper hand in that situation, and I could have scared him off with my element of surprise, but I didn’t. I was there to be personable. I was there to be warm and show the human side of my business. This personal touch has always been and will always be invaluable.
A straight shooter doesn’t beat around the bush, but rather identifies a target and pursues it until completion. It’s a systematic approach. The reason I am so dedicated to it is because I value my time. I don’t like businesspeople who keep going around and around in circles. It’s nauseating and endless.
I’ve had many people seek me out for meetings. What I want and what I respect is the person who finally gets me alone and is straightforward, not passive. Tell me what you are going to deliver and then follow through with it. Within ten minutes of our conversation, I should know what you want, what you need to accomplish, and what role I am playing in your strategy. The best way for this to happen is to discuss it during a one-on-one meeting.
When outlining the elements of an effective approach to being a successful straight shooter, I think we all can come up with a short list that suits our work style. Some would say the best thing is to be approachable, articulate, and authentic—the three As. Others swear by the three Cs—calm, cool, and collected. I have a friend who lives by the mantra of being both communicative and disciplined. Your personal mantra and approach should be a direct reflection of your personality.
Whatever your personal style, always remember to be personable, approachable, and articulate. If you can couple those things with those that appear on my short list below, you’ve got a great combination that will get you results. Straight shooters demonstrate the following:
- decisive decision making
- team building
- deliberate objectives in meetings
The willingness to be aggressive and not take no for an answer have aided me when I’ve had to soothe client accounts that were mishandled by other employees who did not have a clue about what they were doing.