Do one thing every day that scares you.Eleanor Roosevelt
Whether it’s interviewing for a job, selling a product, or gaining a new client, it would be nice if we could rely solely on our expertise and experience to succeed. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t operate that way. Getting others’ buy-in usually requires selling, and some people, including me, don’t like to sell.
Nothing happens until someone sells something.Zig Ziglar
I’m not a fan of this reality. I always hated it when my high school band had to sell magazines to get new uniforms or buy a bassoon. In college, I steered clear of any major that sounded like it involved selling.
However, having a successful business or career means having to sell yourself. As I transition from employee to freelancer to aspiring entrepreneur, I’m slowly learning how to market myself without feeling like a smooth-talking, hard-sell, used car salesperson. I’ve had to change my thinking and my behaviors to get better at selling myself.
Redefine What Selling Means
I knew someone really well who was a career salesman. To see him in action, I used to think that selling meant imposing yourself on others and coaxing people into buying things they didn’t want, need, or could afford. His work ethic really turned me off to any type of selling.
I now know that selling isn’t just forcing your will on others or “beating” them. People who know how to sell themselves don’t push or force a product or service on someone else. On the contrary, what they do is extend an invitation.
“Selling is setting up a beautiful table full of food and inviting starving guests to take a seat.”Jason Leister
Selling is identifying someone’s pain point and offering something to relieve that pain. Jennifer Faulkner at Proposify says, “Instead of saying, “I hate selling!”; say, “I love solving!”.
Get Over Your Imposter Syndrome
Some people who have trouble internalizing their own achievements or feel like frauds likely suffer from imposter syndrome. They’re typically high achievers who set impossible standards of perfection for themselves. No wonder they worry about being found out as “frauds.” However, perfectionism leads to paralysis, as the saying goes.
I used to feel like a fraud writing my blog because I didn’t think I had any insights that others might find valuable. I write about RVing even though my journey to full-time RVing isn’t finished. However, I’ve camped a lot and do a lot of research on RVing. I quit my office job to get myself closer to the life of freedom I want; some people might want to know how I did it.
I’m not a fraud, even though I haven’t yet accomplished my full dream. I’m telling you a story about my journey. There are people who will find my experiences and insights about “life” change management useful.
Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
I’ve known plenty of salespeople who turned me off because they were aggressive. An aggressive person is forceful, pushy, and sometimes tending toward attack. This is not the only way to sell yourself. In fact, while being aggressive might yield short-term results, it doesn’t sustain a relationship.
It’s better to be assertive, which is more confident and positive. When you’re assertive, you can present your case effectively and deal with objections without harassing the other person. Plus, you don’t get that icky feeling of trying to sell something that a person doesn’t want or can’t afford.
If You’re Not an Extrovert, Don’t Try to Be One
I’ve long maintained that I’m very introverted. I often prefer living inside my head instead of being around other people and being the center of attention. This made me think I couldn’t make sales or be good at selling myself.
On the contrary, research strongly suggests that there is little to no connection between being extroverted and good at sales. Gone are the days when the only way to get attention was to knock on doors. Now there’s social media, email, and other low-interaction ways to do cold calling or emailing. Also, we introverts spend a lot of time in our heads. We can develop compelling stories and thoughtful questions to ask, which is to our advantage.
Tell Your Story
Speaking of stories, we all have reasons why we do what we do. My story is my history, full of experiences and lessons that represent potential lessons and insights for others. You might be one of the hundreds of people going after the same opportunity, but your story sets you apart.
Make It About Them, Not You
Take the focus off of you and place it on the other person. Shifting the focus makes it less about your performance and more about serving others. Perhaps the easiest way to be other-oriented is to listen. What is your prospect frustrated about? What do they have to say? Hearing them describe a need in their own words allows you to customize a perfect pitch for them.
Be “All In”
It’s a lot easier to sell something (or you) if you believe in it with all your heart. I’m very passionate about changing my life so I can live with more freedom. I successfully changed my work situation, and I’m so glad I did it. Now, I can share my story and inspire people in similar circumstances to do it for themselves.
Unless you’re “all in” what with you’re promoting, people will note the lack of passion, and they won’t buy into it. On the contrary, if others see how much you care about what you do, they’ll pick up on that enthusiasm and become loyal followers.
Expect and Embrace Rejection
One way to avoid rejection is to never interview for a job, never promote a product, or never pitch a project for funding. Sure, you’ll never hear “no,” but you won’t get a “yes” either.
I had a mentor who told me that a salesperson should expect to hear “no” at least ten times before they hear “yes.” Therefore, when someone says, “no,” it’s not a failure; it’s one step closer to the big “yes.” As hard as it might be, see your next “no” as a stepping stone.
A Final Thought
Achieving your own version of success requires a certain amount of selling, even if that “product” is you. The phrase, “I don’t know how to sell myself,” might be an admission of low confidence, but it doesn’t need to be an excuse for inaction. Rethinking the idea of selling is a good start to getting more comfortable with selling yourself.
If you don’t like the idea of selling, what do you do to get out of your comfort zone?