Years ago during dinner with a very prominent venture capitalist in San Francisco, I asked him how he and his colleagues decided with which applicants to meet among the hundreds proposals for funds received each week. His response remains true today. “We have three questions in mind as we work our way through a proposal. The first two are obvious enough. ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you do?’ The third question is less obvious, however, and the answer to it is decisive: ‘Why should I care?’ In most instances, we don’t care — or at least care enough — to get involved.” That question should be kept in mind whenever attempting to convince someone to think or do whatever it is that you have in mind.
Ignore the over-cooked subtitle of Matthew Pollard’s book and focus on an abundance of information, insights, and counsel he provides, material that can help almost anyone — including introverts as well as extroverts — to gain an edge in almost any competitive situation. He recommends a seven-step process, accompanied by relevant observations:
1. Gain trust: “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. But if they trust you, they will do buziness with you.” Zig Ziglar 2. Ask the right questions: “In selling, as in medicine, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.” Jim Cathcart 3. Interact with the right person: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” StaR Wars 4. Frame what your offer as a story: “We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night. telling itself stories.” Jonathan Gottschall 5. Sidestep objections: “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” 6. Trial Close: “Never test the depth of the river with both feet.” 7. Assume the Sale: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller
In her brilliant book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012), Susan Cain explains how and why our location on “the introvert-extrovert spectrum” influences most (if not all) of our decisions and opinions. She examines widespread but remarkably durable misconceptions about eminent persons such as Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. However great their impact on others may be, all are (or were) essentially introverted. What else do they share in common? They are renowned for being thoughtful, indeed reflective, tending to take more time than others do to make sound decisions and to reach correct conclusions.
Pollard asserts (and I agree) that many of those who are quiet and shy can learn how to outsell anyone. He wrote this book to help as many people as possible “to bridge the chasm between [their] struggling dream and a rapid growth business they love” or a promising career. His book will help them to develop the techniques, strategies, and — yes — values they need. One final thought provided by Henry Ford long ago: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”
Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission.Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.