If you've ever watched the reality show "Shark Tank," you probably know that success in business takes more than a stroke of luck. If you want to score a deal with one of the show's celebrity investors, called Sharks, you need a killer concept and an equally biting sales strategy.
For the past eight seasons, "Shark Tank" winners have been showcasing their strategies for baiting the hook and achieving success. However, these tips and tricks don't just work on TV — they can also help you accomplish your goals in real life. Here are some "Shark Tank" secrets for success.
Know Your Worth
One of the first questions a Shark will throw at an investment candidate on the show concerns financial performance and forecasting. Whether a candidate sinks or swims in the tank can depend on how quickly — and accurately — he is able to provide insight and information.
To win, you'll need to have your numbers ready. However, knowing your business' worth is crucial even if you don't plan to take your company to the TV airwaves. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com, an online document filing service for people seeking to form a company, said that business owners of all stripes need to know the key figures affecting their success.
"For example, if you create content, but don't know how much traffic is coming to your site from it or how many referrals you are getting, how do you know how successful it really is?" she said.
Knowing your monetary value can also help you when you're trying to get a raise at work or land a job offer. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Handbook is a good resource for those looking to assess qualifications and determine salary figures. Additionally, professionals can attend networking events and conferences to gain insight into what peers are earning in similar roles.
Do your research prior to accepting a job offer, so you don't wind up with a salary that's lower than it should be. After all, proving you should get a higher salary down the line can be harder than landing the one you want — and deserve — from the outset.
Find Out: How to Negotiate a High Starting Salary
Research Your Audience
Just as people often seek out friends with similar interests, business leaders might choose to mentor those with whom they feel a personal connection. Savvy "Shark Tank" candidates capitalize on this tendency by researching the Sharks ahead of time. The goal is to find common bonds before setting foot in the tank.
You can also use this tip to get ahead in your career or even land a job opportunity. For example, if you want to be successful in a public speaking engagement, consider researching your audience beforehand to find ways to connect. Determining the ages, genders and cultural backgrounds of the people you're speaking to can help you tailor your speech to be more appropriate. You can also use this tactic before an interview by reading up on the company and the hiring manager on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Use what you know to bond with the interviewer while showing your passion for the company and position. Additionally, doing your research can prevent you from saying something embarrassing or offensive to the person doing the hiring.
If you're an entrepreneur, don't pass up on researching your target demographic through and through. Knowing what your audience cares about can influence your marketing strategy, ensuring you're ready to launch your business.
Listen and Wait to Speak
"Shark Tank" investors might like to talk over one another, but contestants on the show rarely benefit from the same strategy. And interrupting people is as unattractive in everyday life as it is on TV.
"Interrupting with explosive responses makes you seem defensive and disrespectful," said Valerie Streif, a senior advisor with TheMentat.com. Based in San Francisco, the organization has decades of experience hiring, managing and mentoring prospective job candidates. On the other hand, candidates can show their cool by remaining calm and collected under pressure, she said.
While waiting your turn to speak is essential both in and out of the tank, individuals should also learn to listen effectively. An article in Scientific American recommends suspending your judgment by being conscious of your pre-held beliefs. Additionally, people should know when to opt out of a conversation, as genuine listening usually can't be faked.
For best results, apply these tips to your non-work relationships, as well. You can build better, longer-lasting friendships with good listening and even improve your relationship with a spouse or romantic partner.
Have an Open Mind and Avoid Arrogance
Along with going a long way in life, courtesy is key in business. Just as the smartest "Shark Tank" contestants display gratitude for investors' suggestions, individuals should be appreciative in their professional and personal lives. After all, confidence might be a winning trait, but no one likes a know-it-all.
"There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and in order to be successful in personal relationships and in your work life, it's so important to understand where that line is and to never cross it," said Streif.
Arrogant contestants never last long on "Shark Tank," and this trait can hurt people in their personal and professional lives, as well. If you receive constructive criticism in your daily life, it's a good idea to take a beat before responding. Attempt to collect your emotions and strive to view the situation objectively rather than speak out in anger and offense. And most of all, don't be afraid to admit your mistakes — it can actually help you climb the career ladder.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
On "Shark Tank," it's not enough to have a great idea. You also need to look the part. Just as the TV Sharks want to see visual signs of success in a contestant, your potential employer or current boss wants to look at you and feel confident in your abilities.
Shark investor Kevin O'Leary told The Wall Street Journal that he often assesses candidates' body language along with their ideas. "I can tell by the way they look back at me or the way they stand whether I'm going to invest in them," he said.
Along with standing up straight and smiling, individuals can appear more confident by paying close attention to tone of voice. According to a study from Duke University, voters prefer political candidates with deeper voices, perceiving them as stronger.
You should also engage your audience by maintaining eye contact. Additionally, it's key to keep body movements in mind and avoid flailing gestures that make you look uncertain or nervous. Practice in the mirror or record yourself with a camera if needed.
Do Something Memorable
You've probably heard the expression that you only get one chance to make a first impression. The most successful "Shark Tank" candidates found unique and effective ways to present their business proposals while wowing the judges.
Whether you're looking for a new job or seeking to score a promotion, finding ways to stand out is crucial. In a professional setting, this might mean presenting an employer with a new solution to an old problem or sending a handwritten note thanking an interviewer for his time.
Of course, doing something out of the ordinary will only be a positive move if it leaves a favorable impression — so, think carefully before you act. The goal is to find a way to show you will always go that extra mile.
Most people appreciate a good sense of humor, and the investors on "Shark Tank" are no exception. According to Science of People, a human research behavior lab that evaluated "Shark Tank "secrets, successful business pitches included more humor than those that were failures.
Moreover, humor can help people win in their professional lives. In fact, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School discovered that co-workers who make their peers laugh are seen as more knowledgeable than others in the office. Even if a joke falls flat, the speaker is often seen as confident. Just make sure to steer clear of inappropriate or offensive jokes, or you could find yourself alienating the very people you hoped to impress.
While some people are naturally funny, others have to try a little harder. When in doubt, opt for self-deprecating humor over jokes that poke fun at others. The goal is to show co-workers you aren't always serious and that you can laugh at yourself when the situation calls for it.