Do you consider yourself a wuss? A resounding “NO!” is your likely answer. But, the truth is, it’s not what you think that counts. It’s your prospect’s perceptions that matter, and they can be very different from what you imagine.

Why? Because they’re extremely busy. Every time they talk with you, read your emails or sit down for a meeting, they’re asking themselves questions such as:

  • “Is this person a credible resource?”
  • “Does she bring a depth of expertise?”
  • “Is it worth my time to continue this conversation?”

Let’s take a look at one scenario to see how your best intentions might be totally misinterpreted: You’ve finally lined up a meeting with an important prospect. As you’re ushered into his office, you extend your hand and say, “Thanks so much for meeting with me today, Terry. I really appreciate your time.” You think you’re being courteous. After all, this person is busy, and it’s taken a long time to get on his calendar.

But he thinks you’re a wuss. Important people never position themselves as a supplicant, grateful for the opportunity to meet with Mr. Big. Instead of sounding like the consummate professional you are, you sound like a timid wannabe.

Nice people are the worst offenders. They don’t realize that their graciousness and gratitude come across as neediness and hopefulness—and ultimately, wussiness.

What’s a better way to kick off a meeting? Extend your hand and say something like “Good to meet with you, Terry. As I said when we set this up, I’ve got some ideas to help you solve [insert prospect’s business challenge].

Notice how this subtle change positions you as a peer who’s worth Mr. Big’s time. It’s a totally different framework in which to begin your conversation. (Also, please note that it’s not about your product or service. Touting your solution upfront makes you seem like a self-serving salesperson—not good.)

You have to be able to think about things to be good at sales—and not just from your own perspective. Review everything through your prospect’s eyes and ask: Do I sound like a valuable resource and business peer? Or, do I come across as a groveling wuss?

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.