Hitting the High C’s: How Charm with Chutzpah Spells Success
Chutzpah—a Yiddish word that began with a negative connotation—has been reinterpreted by modern commerce. From any perspective, chutzpah means determination, will, and unlimited self-confidence. And there’s no denying that it often pays off in sales. But for some, chutzpah still means pushy, overbearing—even offensive.
Moreover, I know terrific salespeople who would sooner die than be aggressive with their clients. So what’s their secret? These folks have another quality: they are charmers extraordinaire! They rarely have to ask for anything because they’re so engaging and genuine that clients are delighted to do whatever they suggest.
As a trainer of many salespeople, I’d argue that chutzpah may be overrated and charm underrated—but that both are essential for all but a few of us. Do we begin with unequal measures of sugar and spice? Almost always. Does it require practice to balance out chutzpah and charm? Of course!
Using the right combination of these elements has enormous value. Once you’re hitting the “high C’s” in tandem, you’ll see your networks expand and sales figures climb. But also, you’ll feel good about what you do and enjoy client relationships that are rewarding on both sides.
Bring Your Pitch—and Your Ear
The most successful salespeople walk into a networking situation as if it’s a party filled with friends. But they always have an objective. Without it, they may have a great time, but would never get what they need. Of course, blowing in like the proverbial bull among the china will alienate people who appreciate a little less bravado and a lot more listening.
To ensure that you walk out of networking situations energized, rather than deflated, try running through this checklist:
• Declare a specific goal, out loud. “I want to meet people” is too general. Try instead, “I want the contact information of at least two people,” or “I want to learn specific ways I can contribute to this organization, through speaking, blogging, etc.”
Practice your pitch before you go. You’re a lot less likely to be tongue-tied when the time comes to roll it out for a real person.
• Never forget it’s a numbers game. More connections equal more chances for a breakthrough.
• I once heard a top CEO describe his “battle-hardened” confidence. Each time you face your fears, you make a deposit into your chutzpah account. More battles—won or lost—produce more chutzpah.
• Stifle the “what if’s.” They squash chutzpah flat: “What if I’m being too pushy?” “What if they reject my pitch?" These are just worries—and they’re useless.
• Do your research. Once you’ve found networking events, find out about the types of people attending or the organizations that sponsor them. This will give you great small-talk fodder and show that you’re interested in the people you’re meeting.
• Once in the room, focus on what others are saying, not your pitch. If you’ve practiced enough, the pitch will come out easily. Many sales opportunities are lost when we focus on what we need instead of what others are telling us.
• Never rule out the possibility of genuine human connection. It’s possible to become friends with great clients. Seek points of commonality with those you engage. When your interests overlap, your charm quotient can spike.
Chutzpah seasoned with charm translates as enthusiasm. Charm bolstered by chutzpah reminds people that you have a respectable professional purpose. Armed with both, you can win friends and sell with confidence—and who wouldn’t want that combination?