As any professional salesperson will tell you, it's a lot easier to close a sale if you really believe in your product.
It's not absolutely necessary that you use it yourself, but you have to believe in its unique competitive advantages, its integrity and its ability to deliver real and important benefits for the prospective customer. Of course, if you can share first-hand experiences, that's even better.
The Home Depot and Lowe's home centers have learned this lesson well, and as a result they encourage their important suppliers to conduct training sessions with all associates to impart the product knowledge (affectionately known as “PK Training”) that will let them share detailed information with customers who need empathetic help. When possible, associates are given the opportunity to use the products themselves as part of the training process. The objective is to make them true product believers.
Remember, too, the late Victor Kiam, who bought Remington and appeared in commercials: “I believed in the product so much that I bought the company.” And Lee Iacocca, when he took over at Chrysler, appeared in commercials with a personal declaration: “I believe in our cars, or I wouldn't be in this position.” Both of these CEOs were very public and explicit product believers.
When you think about your job search as a marketing project—marketing yourself and your capabilities to a prospective employer—at some point you become a salesperson. Selling is part of the marketing process, and it is important that you be a product believer too.
You need to believe that you can bring value to the company, that you are a person of integrity and that you will be able to generate incremental profit for your employer in excess of your cost. If you don't believe in the product—yourself—it will be difficult, if not impossible, to convince the decision maker.
As you become more senior in an organization, this is even more critical. It's probably OK for an entry-level employee to not really know how much value he or she can deliver, or exactly how the position fits in the corporate structure. As you rise in the management ranks, however, it's important that you communicate your understanding of the responsibilities and obligations of the job for which you're interviewing, and your conviction that you can, in fact, deliver on the employer's expectations.
If you don't have that conviction, an astute interviewer will know it, and you'll almost certainly come up short in a competitive employment situation.
Do your homework until you are convinced you CAN do the job—maybe even better than anyone else—and present that point of view, and your rationale, to a prospective employer. It will say more about your suitability for the job than anything written in your resume or a cover letter.
Don't overpromise, of course, or both you and the employer will ultimately be disappointed—and you'll be stressed out before you even begin. Be realistic. But know yourself and the prospective employer well enough that you can be an honest product believer.
It will show, and it will probably count for more than you realize.
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