Friday, 4 April 2014

Selling CHARM and avoiding smarm

In 1561 the Elisabethan linguist and diplomat Sir Thomas Hoby 1530–1566 produced a best selling English translation of “The Courtyer” by Baldessar Castillio a Venetian Courtier from the court of the Duke of Urbino.

In the book, the courtier is described as having
 a cool mind,

  a good voice (with beautiful, elegant and brave words)

  along with body language of proper bearing and gestures.

At the same time though, the courtier is expected to have a warrior spirit, to be athletic, and have good knowledge of the humanities, Classics and fine arts.
The above could make for a useful job specification for the attributes of a modern salesperson

Recruitment of Talent

 Salespeople are the courtiers of today’s modern business markets.  

A charming salesperson takes an interest in you, laughs at your jokes and is never intrusive or overbearing.

 Certainly, (s)he makes you feel good about yourself.

They may have their own agenda, but it is, or at least seems, subservient or complimentary to yours.

Of course, the charmer might also be a liar, charm is not as Stephen Bayley describes it “ a morally uncontaminated property.”

 The great thing about the charmer though is, they rarely lose. And if they do, they lose with a certain style and grace.

Charm remains exasperatingly difficult to define, but yet ever “ easy to detect, especially in its absence” so writes Stephen  Bayley in his book Charm.

 I think we also pick up pretty quickly on clumsily employed charm in the form of obsequious smarm.

Charming nature or Charming nurture ?

Charm can be trained argues Bayley, like accountancy, writing computer code or practicing first aid, or is it a genetic accident  like blue eyes?  Maybe it is something of each.
We can practice charm when we enter a noisy party and make new friends.

Bayley’s Three Musketeer Heroes of Charm   --Messrs. Ethos, Pathos and  Logos

The study of classical rhetoric and its three-part structure is helpful.
The first was ethos. This is where the speaker presents their credentials as an honest person.

 So for example, I might approach you at a networking meeting and offer you a biscotti biscuit and my winning smile J  and a polite inquiry about your possible need for a fill up of coffee. That's ethos.

Pathos is the way to make an emotional appeal. So, having furnished with the biscotti biscuit and replenished your coffee, I wonder how you are coping with the stresses of the economy, the dreadful weather ( floods has been topical), the effect of the Chancellor George Osborne’s budget.

 Third is logos, the practical line of reasoning when an offer of some substantial sort is made. Perhaps to fix up a quick lunch meeting, a coffee, appointment or visit to site?
Charm is not just a matter of ‘fluttering your eyebrows’ but of mastering the technical disciplines of persuasive communication.

Four skills help develop Charm - take a modern hero of charm  007

First is critical perception. How do you analyse your responses to a person or a place?

Second is situational analysis - the critical path through the circumstances you find yourself in.

Third, is literacy and articulacy.

 It's essential to know how to use words because charm is never mute. Find good words and use them well.
 Finally, anxiety management. Charmers are many different things, but they are always attractively... relaxed. And this is a quality they confer happily on all in their circle. Charm’s positive mental attitude makes everything better.

When you  trained yourself in all of this, you will know how to placate a cross customer. You will be better able to persuasively win an argument or a deal. You will be admired because you can liven up a dull meeting . You will like yourself more and so too will everybody else.

Charming people are emotionally and intellectually superior beings, never upstaged by circumstance, embarrassed by accidents or short of anything amusing to say.
In our often truculent and discontented business  market courts  we new charming salespeople would become

more easy-going, yet ambitiousmore  competitive, but sensitivemore confident, but consideratemore articulate, but  also good listeners too.

When you think about charm in all its meanings, you find a depiction of every sort of competitive advantage.

Charm is an essential tool for survival in the world of selling .

 In social life it makes everything more pleasant. In business life, it makes you more effective.
Manners - Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier is probably good background reading..

 Charm makes you better at business and better with people. Charm a will get you to sell better. We Salespeople don't need less charm, we need more.

Related Links and Reading

Charm by Stephen Bayley published by Harper Collins  the Friday Edition on Kindle
The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth  published by Icon Books
Hobson translation of The Courtier

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