Are you one of the more than 22 million self-employed professionals, consultants and executive coaches who make deals to land clients and contracts? Perhaps you are one of the more than 15 million marketing agency owners, sales professionals and related professionals who need to land high-paying accounts.
If so, you’d better brush up on three soft skills necessary to bring in the business.
“Curiosity, deep listening and storytelling amplify your business in our chaotic, noisy world,” says award-winning story and sales coach Susan Young.
A former on-air radio news reporter and publicist, Young has interviewed everyone from homeless people to presidents.
As a radio news reporter and anchor for 10 years, she says she lives famed TV broadcaster Diane Sawyer’s mantra: “Wake up curious.”
“These soft skills bring clear and concise messaging and exciting opportunities,” says Young. “Be interesting so that people are interested. Then they’ll hire you.”
In her career she also managed the Governor’s Office of Radio & Television for New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Here are the three soft skills Young advises people develop to grow their business.
Curiosity. “The most overlooked soft skill in business—and life—is curiosity. I’ve learned that curiosity—not open-ended questions—applies to sales, growth, and impact,” says Young. “The secret is to become an emotional archaeologist. Use your invisible shovel (questions) to uncover details your competitors miss. Asking questions, though, can’t be an interrogation. Approach sales conversations with a childlike curiosity. The questions and your body language are keys to building rapport and relationships. A laid-back yet professional tone helps others feel at ease and open up. People appreciate it when you act like a human being, not a logo. Then we connect emotionally. No one wants stuffy sales scripts and jargon.”
Pay close attention. “The second soft skill requires paying close attention to responses,” says Young. “If you mentally drift off, you’ll miss something. Savvy leaders are self-aware. They go beyond active listening and use silent listening. This strategy helps us quiet our minds and be fully present. We shut down internal chatter about gas in the car or emails. One of my coaches says: ‘Wherever my feet are, my head is.’ Bold leaders notice nuances and beat the competition.”
Storytelling. “The third soft skill for business growth is storytelling,” says Young. “Sales funnels can be effective, but the Story Funnel System I created 22 years ago has proven priceless. You don’t need a lead magnet; you are the message. When you pour into your story, you’ll have the right words, in the right order, at the right time, for the right people.”
Young is a certified practitioner in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), a business model on the inter-relationship between mindset, communication and experiences. NLP is used worldwide by top business executives, athletes and global leaders.
“When you identify a prospect’s communication preferences, you create rapport and trust,” says Young. “With Neurolinguistic Programming, you have the likeability factor. Others like you because you are ‘like’ them. You’re on the same page.”
Young contends you won’t chase sales. Instead, your prospects will be thinking, feeling, reacting and involved. They will sell themselves.
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