Self-Promotion is described by the CTS Sales Profile as a trait that measures a salesperson’s tendency to exaggerate strengths and downplay weaknesses in order to leave a most favorable impression.
High scorers on the self-promotion scale are resilient to criticism and find it difficult to recognize their weaknesses. They may deny their fears, faults, and failures in order to maintain a positive image. They may be more confident, even overconfident, in their abilities, and they may be able to sell themselves and the benefits of their products with ease.
In contrast, low scorers on the self-promotion scale take criticism to heart. It can be personal for them, and they may be more open to recognizing their weaknesses and working on self-improvement. These individuals may be more coachable and willing to learn, but they may struggle to sell something they don’t believe in.
Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Salespeople with low levels of self-promotion may need to work harder to start selling, because they may project people rejecting them. However with practice and dedication, they can become great, authentic salespeople.
Let’s take a look at a couple of short stories to illustrate the importance of self-promotion in sales.
Tom: High Self-Promotion
Tom is a sales representative for a tech company. He is confident in his abilities and has a strong track record of success. During a sales presentation, he highlights all of his company’s strengths and downplays any weaknesses. He comes across as confident and knowledgeable, and his clients are impressed. While Tom may come across as arrogant to some, and even inauthentic, his self-promotion skills have helped him close many deals.
Sarah: Low Self-Promotion
Sarah is a sales representative for a health food company. She is passionate about the benefits of healthy eating and truly believes in her company’s products. However when it comes to sales presentations, she struggles to promote herself and her company effectively. She often forgets to think and talk about her strengths or the strengths of her products and services, which can make her come across as unconfident and uncertain.
While Sarah’s passion for her products is admirable, her low self-promotion skills may be hindering her sales performance. When she experiences a challenge or tough question from her prospect like, “Why should we pick you or why is your product the best decision,” she may hesitate and simply think because she is honest and real that people will believe her.
What the Research Shows
As you can see, the difference between Tom and Sarah is their level of self-promotion. While Tom is confident and able to promote himself and his products effectively, Sarah struggles to do so. However, Sarah’s passion for her products can still be a valuable asset in sales, and with some work on her self-promotion skills, she can become a more effective salesperson – even one people love to be around because of her authenticity when serving or relating to them.
Our research data finds that salespeople with low levels of self-promotion often do things to avoid criticism. While more coachable, these individuals may struggle with marketing and having a high level of presentational or pitch strength by using powerful words and evidence. It is important for sales managers to recognize these individuals’ strengths of authenticity and coachability. Then, they can work with them to develop their self-promotion skills.
In contrast, salespeople with high levels of self-promotion may be more confident and able to promote themselves and their products effectively, but they may also be more resistant to criticism and less coachable. It is important for sales managers to recognize these individuals’ weaknesses and work with them to develop their coachability and self-awareness. If this is not possible, the sales manager, for those crucial conversations or behaviors that need to be addressed, must attack them with force, power, and directness, or the rep may not hear them or respect their direction.
Self-Promotion is an important trait for salespeople, and whether it needs to be low or high may depend on your sales culture and the types of customers and transactions you do. The validation studies we do with CTS Sales Profile scores, production numbers, and manager rankings help us see, by the data, which will be best for each company.
Taking high or low levels of this trait home or into our friendships has its own challenges. As we become more aware of ourselves and how we are, our emotional intelligence can grow. Then, we can work to be less sensitive to criticism (as I have needed to be) or more sensitive to our weaknesses and need for improvement. This will help all of our relationships improve and grow healthier over time.