Most of us business people tend to focus a significant part of our time and energy on improving our technical abilities. We want to be better accountants, designers, consultants etc. to the exclusion of all other skills. For many years I was under the delusion that ALL I needed to succeed was to develop the technical expertise that would set me head above the competition. Although this single minded approach was vital in establishing my reputation as an expert that can help you improve your business’ performance and profits, it recently dawned on me that I had not focused as much on my influencing skills along the way.
Dale Carnegie, in his timeless classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, stated that only
“ ….about 15% of ones financial success is due to ones technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people”
This is as true today as it was when this book was first published. People buy from people they like and trust! Your competitor is not always technically better than you, but they may be more like-able than you. Hearing this is unpleasant, isn’t it? This is where business gets personal but we all don’t like it getting “THAT” personal.
My ideal client is an owner manager of a business so, I work ONLY with business owners and have found the ability to influence people and build relationships is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to their success. Assess yourself, have you spent a disproportional amount of time on your technical ability compared to cultivating the all important people skills? If you have, all is not lost. You can turn things around using time tested strategies given in Dale Carnegie’s book. Its all within your control.
In my opinion, there are many ways of building rapport and being more like-able. The key is to be authentic and engaging with people. Listen and truly care about your clients and prospects. They will warm to this and will be more likely to do business with you in future.
So next time, before you blame your lack of profits on the market, the recession or your staff, take a look in the mirror. I did and it made a huge difference to how I conduct business now.