Another Way to Outsmart the Competition

The hard-sell is so old school. Anyone with a passing interest in what you’re saying has 17 ways to get 17 different perspectives on what you’re saying in 17 seconds.  Your customers and employees have become conditioned to respond to any hard sell with a Google search for the truth.

The minute the Google-search has begun, you’ve inadvertently outsourced your explaining authority to the vortex.

And yet, the world continues to be filled with executives over-selling their vision, recruiters over-selling unrealistic lifestyles, and salespeople overselling features and benefits. More than ever, telling the whole truth has become a competitive advantage.

Outsmart the competition by being an explainer.

3 Ways to Outsmart the Competition by Being an Explainer

This is part 2 of 7 ways to outsmart the competition. If you missed #1 “Getting There Early.” Click here.

Great leaders are amazing explainers. They go slow to go fast. They take time to explain their ideas, perspective and values. They welcome the tough questions and the slippery slopes. They go there.

1. In Marketing: Teach Before Selling

So many people ask me why I give away so much content. I’ve been told “I don’t understand your model” more than once. But the companies who work with me get it.

My mission to grow leaders is vital. If you really can’t pay, you still need this, and I will share for free. I also know that the best work I do is face-to-face, helping you and your team go deeper. The deeper magic happens when we explore your world together.

I encourage you to adopt a similar approach. No matter what your mission, be a teacher. Help people understand the industry, their environment and what they don’t know. Give boldly. Important work will follow. If it doesn’t, improve your message.

2. In Recruiting: Give a Realistic Perspective

I was shocked to hear one of my MBA students come back disillusioned from a recent sales pitch of one of the big consulting firms. It was the exact same pitch I rejected 20 years ago. The story was “work-life balance.” The label I heard back then was “more nights home than away” (which I soon found out counted weekends, vacation, and holiday… essentially 4 nights of every workweek away.) Today, all it took was a few quick searches to hear the real message “We make it easy for you to hire people to raise your children, clean your house, say your prayers and do your gardening. You won’t have time.”

3. In Engaging Commitment: Tell The Truth

For God’s sake (and everyone else’s), don’t BS. If you are in a conference room trying to spin an uncomfortable message and your heart is sagging, listen to the voice. Your team will see right through any spin you are weaving. Do your best to tell the truth with the best words you can muster. If there’s still stuff you can’t share, whatever you do don’t lie about the future. You will win hearts, minds, and engaged arms and legs by telling the truth at every juncture. I’ve made a career of telling bad news well. Nothing opens the door for true engagement better than that.

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Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning, Communication, confident humility, Energy & Engagement and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. I’m honest and realistic with each and every person I meet.

    I educate them on the fact the overwhelming majority of people who call themselves a coach are consultants. They’re not a coach.

    I explain the importance of due diligence when hiring a professional certified coach as they would any other professional i.e. doctor, attorney, dentist, accountant, etc.

    People seem to appreciate my transparent approach.

  2. Excellent post, Karin.

    Our approach is to be honest in our feedback, in our estimates, and in every interaction we have (no hidden pricing).

    A key for us is to listen to what people are saying and not saying (when they speak with us alone or in a group of people is the message different). We’ve often found that teams either understand enough of their problems that they know how they can improve their communication; or, they aren’t hearing the message that they are giving to others. The key thing we try to do is to show people what they are saying. More importantly, to give teams new tools to use in their communication tool box.

    • Joy, you have a beautiful way of showing people what they are saying through your visual interpretation. Thanks!

  3. Terrific series, Karin!

    Love your point: “No matter what your mission, be a teacher.” When I share helpful information with others to aid them in finding a creative solution, they are so appreciative and will think of me with their next project. Generosity goes a long way.

    I also think being genuine and authentic in who you are and what you can and cannot do is critical.

    Thanks Karin!

    • Terri, Thanks so much or adding that. I do think people remember generosity.

  4. Love this definition of think slow to think fast: Take time to explain their ideas, perspective and values.

    It’s a great strategy and I’ve seen it work many times.

    I also believe that a humble but intelligent explanation of ideas, perspectives, and values is also important. This means being genuinely authentic — a great way of outsmarting the competition.

  5. I completely agreed with your approach on explaining. I sell eye glasses and I explain every part of a pair of glasses with every patient. It may seem like it takes longer, but they are quicker about making decisions when the time comes. I find it also reinforces any decision they make. They remember WHY they made the decision. I find if I don’t explain it, my sales falter and I spend twice as much time with them because they can’t make a decision. Believe it or not, people don’t like making decisions about things they don’t know or understand.

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