Selling to someone with a massive ego can be one of the easiest sales to make. It can also be one of the hardest when a little mistake or infringement wrecks havoc with your chances of selling this person. The bigger the ego, the more fragile the psyche. It takes more than just playing to the ego. You need to know how to maneuver this person, as in a chess game. Here are seven tips to take into consideration when dealing with the prima donna who thinks he or she should have top billing in your next business epic.
1. Do your homework. The best form of flattery for egomaniacs is knowing something about them before you go on the call. Find out what their favorite charities and hobbies are. What high school or college did they attend? Learn about their spouse and children. Talk to somebody who knows them, and ask what their proudest accomplishment is. Anybody can get in the door. With an egomaniac, staying in is the challenge. If you know five personal facts about the person before you meet them, you're sure to stay in.
2. Use flattery. That's right. It's okay to tell them how great they are, but be sincere. They'll spot a phony compliment a mile away. After that, level the playing field and establish your own credibility. What do you bring to the table and why should someone of their importance listen to you? Be prepared.
3. Mirror them. Do this subtlety. People relate to those who mirror their actions and mannerisms. This doesn't mean that if they jump off bridges you have to do the same. It's called neuro-linguistic programming. It puts the person in a comfort zone and drops any perceived barriers.
4. Take them to dinner at their favorite restaurant. This is a sure way to get them away from their power base at the office and level the playing field. They will be more prone to look at your presentation objectively when their trophies and "yes" men don't surround them. Always let them pick up the tab. You can offer, but insisting on paying can offend them. They want to be in charge.
5. Let them do you a favor. These people are used to doing things for people, and there is nothing wrong if they offer or want to do something for you. Accept, just as long as it doesn't put you in an obligatory position or compromise your integrity when you are negotiating later.
6. Start high on rates. The egomaniac is used to winning. Start at the ceiling of your rate card. Then come down. Come so far down that they feel they are getting the best rate in town. In reality, your concession makes them feel like they have won the most important battle: money.
7. Never let them down. As a cemetery-plot salesmen used to say when he sold burial plots to millionaires, "I'll be the last one to let you down." Never disappoint the egomaniac. Once you let them down, it's tough to get them back up on your program.