The importance of your title

I have a strange habit of saving one of my own business cards every time I have a new one (I’m up over a dozen). Thinking about this got me reflecting on the importance of your own title.

My feeling and experience suggests that you don’t want to be called a salesman – that’s a title reserved for sly characters that sell used cars. If you’re an engineer, flaunt it.

One of my favorite titles that I ever had was “Director of Engineering Services”. I was in charge of the sales and marketing department and was initially given the title of “VP, Sales” – yuck!

When I would call on fellow engineers (that’s who I was selling to), I got much more traction with the seemingly technical title than with the flashier sales title.

Most of the times, even when I own the company I’m selling – I don’t use CEO or President, I’ve had much more luck with mid-level technical titles. Your level should be high enough to convey that you can close a deal without running to your boss, yet low enough to suggest that you are on the same plane as your customer – this is why I like Director.

So, talk to your boss and ask to have business cards made up with a title of your choice – offer to pay for it if you have to. And don’t let ego be your enemy, flashy titles are just that, flashy title.

I remember one time, I had a title President and CEO and I was calling on people literally working in the field, they’d shake with a dirty hand, look at my card and say “wow, aren’t you important” with a disgusted smirk on their face – learned a quick lesson there.

Bottom line, put the effort into getting yourself a title that helps you sell to your target customers.

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