What Is Smart Worth?

When we say someone is really smart, it is generally meant as a compliment. The person in question is highly regarded for his or her intellect, good judgment, problem solving and control of situations. At the same time, we
may add a three-letter word beginning with the letter “A” to the end of smart when referring to someone who may have all the traits I mentioned but tends to wear them on his sleeve or as a shoulder chip and show these
traits off.

Tough or easy market, potential clients will tend to be more comfortable discussing their project with someone who is well informed, confident and “with it.” It isn’t always one’s ability to explain the theory of relativity that makes him appear smart. Let’s take a look at some things that might help your image in your own community or business sphere.

Who runs the city or town in which you live/do business? You should know the mayor or city manager’s name and at least a few of the governing council members, especially the one from the district where your place of business is
located. This doesn’t mean you have to be political, but you should vote and be responsible enough to generally discuss things going on in your area. If your schools have a good reputation, the school-board president and principal names should be familiar.

For example, when I started in business in Indiana, I could name all the members of the president’s cabinet. Now I maybe can name half of them. There are more of them now, and my memory has gone a bit south on me. Remembering names makes you appear as though you care about your stake; many people quietly notice and appreciate that.

If you are active in your trade association and serve as a director and/or hold any leadership positions and have received awards, show it on your stationery. If you have attended an impressive program at a convention and it featured a new method, at the right time, mention it and the speaker to your client. If the speaker is well known, mentioning him carries the message that you are interested in furthering your knowledge. Journalist George Will once spoke to the NAHB board of directors, and he was hilarious. I have mentioned it to a few clients in passing.

Do designations, like CGR, CAPS, CR and CKD, automatically let you charge more? Don’t you wish! The alphabet soup behind a name implies that there was some study or accomplishment necessary to list it. That is not lost on clients.

If anyone out there believes you make a meaningful sale without establishing rapport with the client, I have a bridge to sell you. Rapport is pronounced softer than it’s spelled. Rapport comes not from one or two things you might have said but rather from a presence or confidence you have. By the way, you don’t have to have a sky-high IQ to be smart, but you will have to apply yourself and believe in the value of always digging.

So how much is being regarded as smart worth to you? You will find yourself in the top 15 percent of your market. You hit the deck with an advantage because of the aura that you have cultivated—not without challenges, however. What goes with the value of smart is responsibility to be a cut above the rest. You are charging more because you are delivering it, on time and on budget.

There are two reasons advanced as to why a top salesman drives a fancy car: One is he is slick and overpriced, and the other is that his product is so good there is a strong demand for it. I know which one I want to be because being the other one really“smarts,” while you’re here ...