Episode 22: Why You Should Never Oversell Yourself

This episode is about the topic of not overselling yourself. Now you might be sitting there thinking, “Well, why on earth would I not want to build myself up, push myself out to the world and really talk about my amazing talents?”

Let’s find out!

Here are the highlights from this episode:

{1:34} The problem with overselling yourself

{2:45} Exceeding expectations

{6:51} The cost of a new employee

{8:41} Why people choose to join businesses

{12:17} Something you can try

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Welcome to episode 22, Dawn of a New Era, Chronicles of a Serial Entrepreneur. And this episode is about a really strange topic in business, something that I pondered about doing for my podcast. And it’s all about not overselling yourself. Now you might be sitting there thinking, “Well, why on earth would I not want to build myself up, push myself out to the world and really talk about my amazing talents?”


Well, yes you do to a degree, but what happens in businesses when I see epic fails, they happen in two camps. One, which is an employee starting a new job, going to the interview and absolutely pointing the storefront out there, super selling themselves and presenting and positioning themselves in a way that the person employing them almost feels that everything will be done and their mind starts to run expectations. And those expectations may be far too high because when you build yourself up too much and overselling, what happens is, is that you set out almost an insurmountable task.


And what I’m saying here is that if you’ve ever been for a job interview or indeed you have pitched to a client or a client meeting, which I’m sure most of you will have, you will know that the temptation is, is to tell them absolutely everything, why it’s going to be amazing, agree to everything and just really, really position yourself so that they can’t say no.


The problem with that is, is that you have to be very authentic and genuine and realistic about what is going to happen and what timescales. So I’m not saying undersell yourself. I’m just saying, sell yourself in a way that people will have a clear expectation that not only you can meet, but you can absolutely smash and exceed. What happens is, is that if you go into a meeting true, and somebody says, “Right, what we want to do is in our mind, we want to hit a million pounds in three months, we want to implement the new website, we want to do X, Y and Z. And these tasks are going to be in your remit.”


If you don’t think it is achievable, you have to sound strong and someone will respect you more for actually quantifying it and giving realistic, tangible expectations looking at the actions involved, looking at this as a more considered approach. In the longterm, it will have far better effects and results, because what will happen when you join a business or you start working with a new client, they will have this firm expectation. Now, if you’ve done your job correctly and you haven’t oversold yourself, the expectation will be true to what you deliver. And really you can really bolster that relationship so much more by exceeding that person’s expectations and delivering way more.


So if you go in and you think, “Well, actually I could maybe hit that target, but I actually think for sure, I’ll hit more,” don’t tell them that in the interview or the meeting. Hold that back to try and level out what is achievable. And then what happens is, is you imagine, two months down the line, three months down the line, you start over-delivering on everything that they had in their mind that you were going to do. Then it can only have positive effects on the relationship that you have, and also the feeling they have towards you as an employee or as a supplier.


So you want to make sure that your customer and employer is always happy. And in this podcast, I want you to really think about the next time that you’re going to a meeting, the next time that you go for an interview, the next time that you have to really sell yourself, if you’re trying to pitch and close something, what you want to do is make sure that when you are talking to the person that you don’t save all of those gems or serious nuggets to the whole proposal. When you pitch, you want to pull through some realistic questions so that everyone has realistic expectations about what the results are going to be.


So you have to think outside the box a little bit and think about what are the things that could potentially go wrong. So as much as I don’t want you to be negative about this, you have to kind of think about where you’re going, what it is that the client or employer expects from you, what you think you can truly deliver, but also building things that you might need and look out for any gaps. And this is important to bring forward initially, because as I said, someone really will respect you for just saying, “Well, actually hang on a second. I know you said that you wanted to get to a million in three months. What is it that you’ve got that you’ve done before that says that that is achievable?”


Because when an employer or even a business sets a target or a goal, it has to be tangible. And it has to be drawing from some results or some data that says that it’s even possible. Now it could be a pie in the sky. Often I’ve seen employers come to me and say, “I’ve hired a digital marketer. And I was really disappointed because they were working away and we still haven’t got anything and we’re eight weeks in.” You know what? You have to allow someone to learn your business. Again, it depends on the level of person that you’re actually employing.


So when people get their fingers burned, it’s because maybe they’ve had an expectation and they’ve asked the apprentice or someone to do this or a new start, and it’s not possible. And it could be not possible for many reasons. It could be not possible because it’s just not physically viable in that period of time. But it could be that there’s been no thought of, well, there’ll be a period of time of actually getting to know the business, understanding what the business does and so on.


So what I’d like to do is built on this whole concept and look at the fact that if you’re hiring someone, so let’s switch it up. Let’s imagine you’ve got someone coming to you and overselling, we know that in business that one of the biggest faux pas is choosing the wrong person to do a job. If you’re putting your time, money and energy into someone, let’s imagine, you’re hiring somebody in the world of digital marketing. Well, let’s consider the average salary of a digital marketer is £38,000, right? And then the new hire productivity is less than 100% for the first five or six months.


So you have to set your expectation there and splitting off that salary and thinking about the productivity and the returns on investment you’re going to get, because the first three months of productivity, it’s going to be less than 50%. So this can be a real significant drain on your financial resources. And Eric Coaster of My High Tech Startup, he estimated the cost of a new employee is approximately one and a half to three times the cost of their annual wage. So that’s one and a half to three times the cost of their annual wage. And that’s because you have to train people up. And as much as someone walking into the business might have some skills, you’ve got to think about how skilled are they because a recent report by Hayes said that only 15% of people rate their digital skills as very good. And 34% reported skills gaps as being the biggest challenge for them as leaders in marketing.


Now, unless you’re bringing in somebody who is fully qualified in the world of marketing, used to working with multiple disciplines and industries, it’s not really an expectation to have that they could start forging ahead and getting results straight away. And this is why often the best option is hiring in specialists, having people who are working kind of as an extension of your team, maybe not on your payroll, but somebody who is fully committed to looking after themselves, making sure that they’re working with you, but they need minimal effort.


So you have to think about what it is you’re trying to achieve. And this goes for, as I say, don’t oversell yourself if you go to a job interview. Don’t oversell yourself when you’re pitching and don’t oversell the business to someone who is looking to come and start with you, because obviously if you don’t set up your market store as true, transparent and people can see everything that’s there, you’re going to have problems where people get disgruntled.


So think about when you’re training. So if you’re training staff up, it’s perhaps surprising that 59% of a professional’s decision to accept a job or stay in the current role is based on factors other than pay. So when you are looking to join a business and again, recruit somebody into it, you have to think about what their top considerations are, which could be around things like flexible working, health and wellbeing, and training and professional development.


Now overselling happens all day long. And just the other day, I had a situation whereby I was in a meeting and I was listening to the person who was pitching. And I knew the products and service very well. I was brought in as kind of an independent advisor and I was listening. And I thought, “Well, the pitch is good in terms of what they’re going to commit, but it was too good.” It was literally promising things just to try and get the business.


And afterwards, I had a chat with the person and said, “Well, do you truly, honestly say that you can guarantee this?” “I can’t guarantee it.” they said. I said, “Well, why did you promise it then?” And the answer surprised me a little bit, because it was like, “Well, I really need the business. And I just thought we can work towards that.” And I said, “Well, what happens when they get to that timeline that you’ve given them and you don’t deliver?” I said, “There’s going to be some fightback from the person to say, ‘Well, look, you promised me this.'” And they said, “Well, we’ll worry about that when we get there.”


Now, those are exactly the attitudes that cause problems in business. And I would imagine the majority of lawsuits come from those circumstances where people have gone in and they operate either at a point of desperation because they’re really keen to get the business and it’s tempting to do so. But if you don’t feel a natural vibe with someone, I’ve always found it quite difficult when you speak to somebody, they tell you they want to work with you. It’s difficult to say no, but I do it because I know that what they want is maybe not realistic. It’s very true with our student services team. They talked to hundreds of people day in, day out, who were looking to do qualifications and training.


Now, as soon as someone says that they want a discount or they’re not keen on the price, then they’re not our ideal client. And we would never, ever drop our prices for them because the expectation then, you’re devaluing yourself as a business, but the expectation of the person, they’re not seeing the true value. So it’s important for us at that stage to show them the immense benefits and why we stand true to what we charge.


Then on the other side of things, if you think about it, in terms of working with ideal clients, I get people who want to work with me, they want me to do the strategy etc. for their business. And there are clients that I say, “I just don’t feel it’s a good mix.” It could be personality. It could be that we don’t have the same sort of view. We don’t have the same, maybe passions. There’s lots of different reasons, but fundamentally, if you are true to somebody and you don’t oversell yourself, if you come across with an air of confidence that is kind of unshakable, because you were so confident and it will be something subconscious that you maybe won’t even see it shining through to your client, but it’s easier to sell. And strangely enough, when you are so committed, you’re so positive and you’re so, “I know I can do this, but I know in my mind, I can do 10 times better,” you close that with that confidence. The client’s happy with what you’ve said you’re going to deliver. Just imagine how happy they would when you take it up 10 notches.


So this is why I want you to go into every situation from now on. Think about not overselling yourself. Think about how you can really, really get that person to see that confidence shining through because you will be 100% on what you can deliver. So every time you go into a meeting or interview, whatever, try and write down some targets and goals that you think are absolutely 100% achievable. And try and think about things like short, medium, and longterm, to give people an understanding of how things would take. If you put all of these different pins in the ground and these different stakes in the ground are going to be really, really useful for you going forward to make sure that people are not thinking that they’re going to be getting more for the money than you are actually going to be giving them.


So I hope you enjoyed this weeks’ podcast, and I will see you next week, where we’ll be talking about more things to do with your business and entrepreneurial journey. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode and don’t forget I’m going to be with you each and every week. So download and listen on dawnmcgruer.com or on iTunes, and come and join us in our Facebook community too. All the details are on the website and I’ll see you next week.


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Speaker. Author. Podcaster. Strategist.

Multi-award-winning speaker, strategist & best-selling author of Dynamic Digital Marketing - Helping to inspire entrepreneurs to rise to meet today’s challenges and be powerfully present to shine online.

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