11 Dolly Parton: a model of perfection

A client writes amusingly to acknowledge receipt of an invoice I emailed him for a workshop: “I admire you submitting it as a Word document, allowing full edit rights to your customers. A real sign of trust and partnership!”

Well, of course. The spirit of honesty survives in many quarters, despite the best efforts of this insidious surveillance culture to turn every breathing day into an exercise in suspicion and fear. The presumption of innocence hangs by a thread. And lest you think I’m about to launch into some tedious conspiracy theory, remember: it’s not a theory. The reality of our societal decline into a sci-fi dystopia can easily be put to the test. Just ask your local friendly corner shop to play back the CCTV footage of you buying baked beans a week past April.

So it was great to see Dolly Parton interviewed on the box last night. What a gloriously unapologetic individual! She might eat Swarovski crystals as breakfast cereal, but that’s what makes her a shimmering model of transparency. This miniature, smiley, pointy person has never for a moment pretended that she isn’t a complete cosmetic confection. And that’s the difference between Dolly and the other dames in Scar Wars. Dolly hasn’t had her honesty surgically removed.

And how this relates to business is…?
Well, suppose you’re a highly trained professional in, say, civil engineering or the legal profession. Many years under your belt, letters after your name. Next, suppose someone imposes a career development opportunity upon you that requires no knowledge of the laws of torque or tort. For the next few days, you are to become a salesperson for your firm, contributing to a sales pitch or written bid. How comfortable are you now?

If the answer’s not very is that because you think professional integrity and selling are chalk and cheese? With the selling an especially ripe slice of gorgonzola? It’s a common view. We’ve all been stalked in shops – “Can I help yourself at all today, Sir, at all?” We’ve all experienced sleazy, greasy and queasy. We’ve all been hit upon by a bad practitioner.

If you’re ever involved in winning work, that means you work in sales. And when you put on the selling hat, as part of a pitch or bidding team, you know there’s a way to wear a hat so that it shows your face and your intentions. And there’s another way to wear a hat. See pic above, see pic below.

Don’t shy away from selling. You’re simply helping people to buy something they already decided they needed. If you package your proposition in a way that treats the customer with respect, they’ll reward you for that. Customers may not be right all the time, but they’re never a fool.


Nielsen Dinwoodie
business messages people remember


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