Never Be the Smartest Person in the Room


One of the issues Business Development Professionals struggle with is when to show intelligence or technical knowledge. Unfortunately, some people aren’t very astute at knowing when this is appropriate. They think that it’s important to impress the prospect with their knowledge, their expertise and their credentials to try and prove their credibility or validity. Regrettably, this tends to be more of a hindrance than an asset.

First of all, you wouldn’t be making the call if you didn’t have some capability as a technically proficient professional. You know you have valuable solutions for the client. You know that if you can uncover a problem, you can probably offer good advice and input on how to solve it, whether the solution is from you or someone else. Go into the call with a degree of confidence, but not arrogance. Show humility, but not deference.

Remember three key elements for success in Business Development — credibility, confidence and courage. If you know you are credible and have value to bring, you’ll be confident that if you can uncover problems, you will be able to solve them. More importantly, you’ll have the courage to ask the tough questions that uncover the issues. You prove you are smart not by your credentials, your statements or your presentations, but by your really insightful questions that force the prospect to think, reflect and confront issues they may be avoiding.

Credibility, confidence and courage do not equal arrogance. It’s an attitude of quiet assurance that you’re in control of a process, you know why you’re asking the questions and you are capable of providing information at the appropriate time. You won’t waste a person’s time by giving them superfluous or unneeded information just to make yourself look good.

The best presentation is the questions you ask, your way of engaging the prospect and allowing them to feel comfortable such that they can trust you in sharing their issues and problems.

In Business Development, the following quote rings especially true … “If you’re the smartest person in the room… you’re in the wrong room.” – Brian Tracey



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