Thamarr Griffith, President of Grifco Incorporated….

One of the most difficult learning experiences I’ve had as a business owner is that business is indeed personal. As a sales executive who worked for global Fortune 500 organizations and closed multimillion dollar deals with ease, I found it devastating that I wasn’t closing deals for my very own company. In my business venture I would implement the same due diligence and go to market strategies I’d used for many years but the success just wasn’t coming as easily. After failing to close a number of business transactions, I finally figured out where I went wrong and you wouldn’t believe what the problem was. It was ME. 

As a minority woman business owner, I was not shielded by the large corporation with the famous name. I did not have the huge PR and Advertising budget that the large companies supported me with when I was employed. What I did have was passion—too much passion. Who would ever say that you could have too much passion? Well I am telling you right now, that if in your business presentations you are exuding passion, determination and urgency, you are scaring your potential clients away. I looked back and realized that I wasn’t pushy, just urgent. 

To your potential client, that sense of urgency can be misconstrued as:

“I need this deal to survive.” 

“My company isn’t in this for the long haul.”

“I care about my company, not yours.”

However, in reality this is what I was really thinking:
“Give me a shot and I will prove your decision was the right one.”
“I hope they say yes because I can make their company so successful.”
“I am going to knock your revenues out of the park.”

What I have come to learn is that my skills are those of a Fortune 500 company. My business capabilities were founded on the trial and error of major corporations that faced public scrutiny of their mistakes. As a former employee of larger companies, I was on the side lines watching them make the mistakes that I foresaw but wasn’t in the position to make a difference. 

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What I know today is that I am comfortable in my own skin as a minority woman business owner. I have the confidence to share my company’s capabilities without displaying desperation in my conversational tone. I’ve learned to stop midway during a presentation and ask directly, “What are your thoughts so far?” in order to be sure that there is no misunderstanding. Indeed, my intent is to close the deal, but more importantly I am able to display genuine concern for the well-being of my potential client’s business. Now when I hear “It’s not personal, it’s just business,” my reply is, “It is my business to be personal with your business.”

Two key takeaways:
1. Ask questions to make sure clients understand you and you understand them.
2. Offer a trial period so clients can build confidence and trust in you.