How to Sell Yourself
by Tim Parker
In very small businesses the owner and business are one and the same. So, when you're marketing your business, you're really marketing yourself - but that isn't easy for everyone. Here's advice for getting better at selling yourself and your business.
Image source: Photospin.com
The smaller your business, the more you and your business are synonymous. People may not know the name of your business at all; they might just know you and for that reason, you have to know how to sell, “you.” As you grow, your business will hopefully gain an identity outside of you but for now, you’re everything.
You know how it works—some people are really good at talking. They’re the people at the events who have a story for any situation. They’re the ones who bounce from group to group seemingly knowing everybody—or can drop a name that they and the group have in common. They’re smooth—sometimes cheesy and annoying—but somehow, they seem to have an endless pipeline of business. As much as you don’t want to hear it, you might need to become a little more like those people. Don’t worry, we’re not advocating turning you into somebody you’re not but there are some skills to learn when selling yourself.
Let’s just call it what it is. Those schmoozers are exuding confidence. They may struggle with confidence just as much as the next person but they know that confidence is what gets them in the door. They know that confidence is professionally attractive so they play the part even if they don’t feel the part. “Fake it until you make it” is a big part of selling yourself. Of course, there’s a fine line between confident and cocky.
We’re not done with the clichés’. How about “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” For every opportunity (unless it’s some equivalent to a root canal) there are loads of people going for it. Every customer you’re trying to land is being courted by others just like you. Your job is to be persistent—even kind of annoying. Keep sending the e-mails; keep sending the texts; let them know when something changes that is valuable to them. Just keep in contact with them. Even if they’re not ready to buy now, they’ll think of you later.
Don’t Be Boring
For real—even if you’re not great in social situations, you have to find a way to be unique. Be proud of your introvertness—there’s nothing wrong with you but that doesn’t give you license to not stand out. People who don’t stand out can’t sell themselves because they never get noticed. The cheese-machine at the party is getting noticed.
And of course, your product has to be unique too. That’s great that you design websites but what makes you unique? If you’re not unique, you’re boring. Don’t be boring.
Offer a Solution
Your customers are plenty-smart enough to identify the problems. What they need is for somebody to dig in to the details and offer a solution. Not something that MIGHT work; something that WILL work.
Offer more of a solution than your competition. Create a detailed report, show that you were super thoughtful about their problem, offer some top level advice free of charge. Become part of their solution before selling your product. Talk is cheap. Your customer certainly wants to know about you but they’re more interested in how you will solve the problem.
Stop with the Resume Speak
Seriously—nobody wants to hear you describe yourself as a problem-solver, a go-getter, or as having great attention to detail. Your customer wants specifics. Who have you worked with that had problems like theirs and how did you solve them? And by the way, attention to detail is probably something to stay away from because you risk talking to somebody who has greater attention to detail than you. Are your handouts stapled in the exact same place? Are your clothes 100% wrinkle-free? Might want to stay away from that kind of language.
You know that what we say is only a tiny piece of what really communicates, right? It’s actually your non-verbal communication that tells the person more about you than anything. Sit up straight, make eye contact, don’t cross your arms, walk at a leisurely yet intentional pace, avoid talking with your hands excessively, have a firm handshake. Your non-verbals will probably sell you more than anything else.
We all live in the same world. Everybody likes to complain about something, don’t they? Social media is a cesspool of complaining and we all know at least a few people that can find the negative in anything.
But all of us are looking for positive people to place in our lives. We’re looking for that breath of fresh air that we have trouble even being to ourselves. Find ways to find the positive. Smile a lot, be thankful for what you have, talk about things you enjoy, tell your customer that everything is going to be alright. Positivity equals confidence. Don’t look or sound miserable. Nobody needs any more of that in their life. Positive people will always land more opportunities.
Yes, your messaging has to be on point but selling yourself is more involved than just speaking the right words. It’s about having the right air about you. Be confident, be a problem solver, and be positive. Those are great starts to what could become a great working relationship.
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