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“I Don’t Want to Brag”

February 25, 2014

How to Really Sell Your Worth!

Why is it so hard for some people to talk about their accomplishments? Why do some sales people fall short in sharing their value proposition? Depending on your generation, it might be because as a child your parents and teachers told you “Don’t brag” and “Don’t show off.” And, as a good child often does, you listened.

Fast forward to your professional life and the questions you are asked in a job interview or during a sales presentation.

  • “So, why should we hire you?”
  • “What are your major accomplishments?”
  • “How are you better than your competition? “

These can be tough questions if you are remembering what you were taught as a child, and many people fall short of answering these questions in a concise, persuasive and confident way.

Over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of professionals who are either selling themselves to get a new job or selling their company to gain a new business relationship. I have worked on 100’s of resumes where the first feedback I give my clients is to list their accomplishments because all they list are job descriptions. I have seen hundreds of sales presentations that are focused entirely on the product but not why the prospect should buy from the company or the person presenting.

For my clients looking for their next great job, it can be difficult for them to share their accomplishments. Many have actually said to me, “I don’t want to brag.” Let’s explore what bragging actually is. According to the definition in the Encarta Dictionary, brag means ‘to talk with excessive pride about an achievement or possession’. What is wrong with this? Why not talk with excessive pride about an achievement? There is nothing wrong with this unless you take it to a negative level and make boastful remarks, which by definition includes ‘statements or displays of arrogant behavior’.

When we work with salespeople, they sometimes fall short on selling themselves or bragging because they don’t want to be pushy or arrogant. Selling yourself or bragging is not arrogant if you do it in an assertive, confident way that meets the needs of the person to whom you are speaking. It is not acting like a ‘blow-hard’ who walks on water and just can’t stop talking about him/herself. It is not chest pumping and talking at the other person like he/she is an idiot. It is a respectful way to say that this ‘partnership’ will be of benefit to both parties.

If you need to sell yourself, sell your company or sell both, you need to develop a way to clearly and specifically state how you are different and how you are better. You need to brag, not just a little – you need to brag a lot. Accomplishment statements or value propositions are the only way that a prospective employer or client will understand how you actually do your job and the value you bring. It does not benefit you to be humble.

There are many ways to craft an accomplishment statement or a value proposition and we have found that the three step process of Challenge – Action – Result is the easiest, most concise and effective way to share what you bring to the table in a professional, non-boastful way.

Challenge – Most employees have faced challenges in their work responsibilities.  Most sales are made because one company is helping another company or individual mitigate a challenge. A challenge can also be looked at as a problem you recognized or an opportunity for change. When crafting your value proposition or accomplishment statement, start by concisely describing the challenge/problem/opportunity. Here are two examples of opening statements that describe challenges, problems or opportunities.

I recognized that the process for ABC was 25% longer than our competition and this was impacting our ability to remain competitive. 

I worked with a customer last year who was experiencing very high turnover which was costing the business $100,000 in extra recruiting costs every year.

Action – After you state the challenge, you should immediately follow up with the actions you took to mitigate the problem or take advantage of the opportunity. Be clear and concise about how you approached the situation to make it better. Here are two examples to follow up on the challenge statement above.

In one month, I analyzed every step of the ABC process from beginning to end, researched the competition and identified three immediate improvements we could make…

I completed an extensive organization analysis to identify the reasons for the turnover and in two months I developed solutions for preventing turnover in the future.

Results – The final piece of the puzzle, maybe one of the most important, is the result you got from your actions. Don’t be humble here and don’t be vague. Give as many specifics as possible to really brag about your work.

The recommended changes resulted in a 65% improvement in departmental efficiency and a 20% increase in sales over the next four months.

The plan I put together with the customer enabled them to reduce turnover from 75% to 35% and reduce recruiting costs to their budget of $50,000.00.

Important Note – When meeting with prospective employers or clients, prepare wisely. Choose the accomplishments or value propositions that are aligned to the job or the prospect. When sharing, don’t overload the interviewer or prospect with your entire professional history and don’t talk for more than one or two minutes before stopping to get feedback.

If you take time to put together concise and persuasive accomplishments and value propositions you can “Brag!” and “Show off!” with confidence and your prospective employers or clients will clearly understand the value you bring to their organizations.

©Taylor Performance Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved. Material in this article is from “Next Step Career Outplacement” and “Strategic Selling” workshops offered by Taylor Performance Solutions.