EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Although it is certainly true that it isn’t possible to sell from an empty wagon, the difficulty of selling from one that is full is greatly under rated.

As senior financial professionals, and as individuals not seriously trained in sales, we frequently find ourselves in the position of have too much to sell and not enough listening skills in place early in a search process to be able to know what our “customers” want to buy.

New salespersons in training typically do what is called in personal selling terms “throwing up on the customer.” All of the hard gained product knowledge is brought forth in one giant burp before the customer can squeeze a word in edgewise. Not a good way to start an enduring friendship.

Over the course of a 20-30 year career we acquire so many talents. It is often hard to know which ones are currently saleable and which ones are not. We often present our “history” thinking that others will “figure it out.” Don’t hold your breath.

I recall from my publishing days a questionnaire sent out by our marketing department to authors asking them for advice on how to market their books. The frequent response was that we knew best. Even in this context, not really true.

Each of us is a complex product with skills honed over many years. The power tool that we represent can be used in many ways, but it is up to us to “figure it out,” not those we contact. If we don’t lead them most of the way down that primrose path, it will simply never happen.

Resumes and 90 second announcements evolve over time. They start as an historical documentation of our careers and only grow into proper marketing vehicles if we let them.

You may have stumbled into creating an impression of how your skills can be applied and not even realize it. If you are getting interviews, FIND OUT WHY. What is it about your background that caught their attention? I know they say: “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” but if you don’t ask you will never know.

Bit by bit, word by word, the story you need to tell to transfer your skills to a new job in perhaps a new industry will become better known to you, but only if you recognize the NEED to know.

You are permitted a few lifelines here. You can call a few friends and/or a few former co-workers to find out how you bring value. In our traditional “nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel” method of working, we often never stop to find out how.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, don’t let it happen. Talk to others, but do a lot of research on your own as well. What postings appeal to you? What are the skills required as per the position description? Now, can you find them on your resume? If not and you have had the required experiences, go to your computer and start redrafting.

The conversion from being a history book to an advertisement isn’t easy, but there are very few things in life worth doing that aren’t difficult.

Write, and rewrite and rewrite again until the valued products in that wagon of yours are sitting on the most visible shelves and easy for your customers to see and understand. It is a painful process of self discovery, but it is a journey we all must take if we want success through this most difficult process.

Regards, Matt

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