Two little words can sell anything – even yourself

May 29th, 2016 2:25 PM

By Southern Star Team

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LOOKING for a job? A bank loan maybe? Or trying to get your new business going by finding a new customer? It all comes down to two words: trust and competence.

The first question that people ask themselves when they meet someone looking for a position, a loan or an order is: Can I trust this person? This crucial decision is often made in the first seconds of an encounter. It can be as fundamental as your appearance, a tattoo, a piercing or just the way your hair is. Some people don’t like beards. I think it is the look in your eyes, and your body language. 

Your attitude to life can show through in your smile. Do you hold the person’s hand firmly, or is it the old wet fish? I know it seems ridiculous, but these things really matter. Your tone of voice, your language, your accent. I always tell my students not to give someone a reason to dislike you on the first meeting. Sales people are very aware of this. Could I buy a used car from this person?

And if you manage to get across that particular rubicon, the second question is: Is this person competent to do what is expected from this job offer, sale or loan agreement? Can he or she actually do it? Some people simply can’t. Venture capitalists always say about investment opportunities that they base their decision more on the people in the team than the idea itself. Trust and competence. 

All of business is based on this trust and these types of judgement calls. We all do it on a daily basis when we make decisions to buy products or services. That’s what makes enterprise so unpredictable.

And I think I know which is more important. Trust me!


Owen’s new short book for start-ups and business teachers, ‘How to be an Enterpriser’, is available at

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