Selling Yourself Without Being Awkward

Recently a reader who sells real estate investments wrote me with the following dillemma:

I want/need to become better at networking. I am really good at making friends and building relationships with people whom I want to get to know personally, but am finding that building business relationships does not come as naturally. Maybe it is because I don’t feel as genuine…

It’s not an uncommon struggle.

Often we are great at building relationships, which is integral to most any business, but we have a difficult time turning relationships into sales.

In fact, this dillema is not only for those in sales. It’s for those looking to find a job, or score a promotion, or really get any other type of commitment.

The dilemma is that we are often good at giving but bad at receiving.

It feels phony to make a connection or build a relationship, and then ask for something, especially money.

And often it is phony!

But it doesn’t have to be, especially if you have a platform.

Here’s a simple formula to follow on the path to moving from a connection or relationship to a sale:

  1. Give without strings.
  2. Create a system for receiving.
  3. Start with belief.

1. Give without strings.

Jon Janscht over at Duct Tape Marketing does a fabulous job explaining that before you can get someone to buy from you, they must first know, like, and trust you.

Far too many businesses [and people] attempt to go from Know to Buy and wonder why it’s so hard.

Don’t jump from an initial connection right to a sales pitch.

Instead, try generosity.

Offer your new connection something of value- for free, with no strings attached.

For example, the reader who submitted this dilemma sells real estate investments to high net worth individuals.

We discussed having him start something as simple as a newsletter highlighting local resources- both professional and social- that would appeal to his clientele.

Giving without strings accomplishes a number of things:

  • It orients us. It reminds us that our work and lives have purposes bigger than money.
  • It establishes credibility. It gives people a chance to know, like, and trust us without making any commitments.
  • It allows us to build a platform. Creating a free offering, like a newsletter or blog, is a great way to quickly grow an engaged audience.

2. Create a system for receiving.

There comes a time to make what I call a “strategic ask”. It’s where you ask to be compensated appropriately for a product or service that you have to offer.

Unfortunately, often when people make an “ask” it is far from strategic. The experience ends up being awkward for all involved.

This is where having a system in place as a part of your platform makes the process smooth- and dare I say, fun.

In essence, you let the platform do the asking for you.

For example, our real-estate salesman’s newsletter could have a “Brought To You By” tagline attached to each issue that has a gentle sales pitch and contact info.

As well, one issue every quarter could be a special issue featuring a client case study and an invitation for interested readers to learn more about real-estate investment.

Having a system in place to make the “strategic ask” provides two key benefits:

  • It sets expectations. It makes it clear that an ask will be made, and it does so in a non-threatening way.
  • It provides context. When the ask is a part of the system, then it’s not an awkward out of the blue phenomenon. It’s a logical next step as a part of a larger process.

3. Start with belief.

Before you get selling, get believing.

And I don’t mean that as some corny added bonus. It’s integral.

Believe in yourself. You won’t succeed until you believe in yourself. Spend some time in the morning visualizing yourself successfully making the sale. Internalize that image and that feeling.

Believe in your product. Now, you don’t have to believe that your product is world changing. But you do need to believe that it will be of benefit to others. If your product or service is a scam, don’t sell it.

Believe in others. Believe that the people that you are selling to are not your adversaries but your allies. Some may only enjoy your free offering, and that’s ok. Many others will actually be eager and excited about compensating you for the value you bring.

Question: What barriers do you face moving from connection/relationship to the “strategic ask”?

Photo by John Edwards x on Flickr

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Selling Yourself Without Being Awkward

  1. I have two actor friends who are quite different at selling themselves,

    Person A exaggerates everything they have ever done and leaves people thinking “they have done so many amazing things!” And they like to leave people with the impression that if it wasn’t for his amazing acting skills the project would have failed.

    Person B struggles at the networking meetings, and doesn’t know how to “sell” her skills as an actor to directors and producers, so she came to me for advice, I told her to ask directors questions about what projects they enjoyed and why, what they like in an actor, producer etc etc… Keep people talking about what they enjoy and like.

    2 years down the track the results are in.

    Person A found quick success with various projects from networking meetings and did a pretty good job, but now they find that they are not getting callbacks or even invites to audition. Apparently word has spread that Person A is a bit of a wank to be around and not much of what they say has truth in it. Person A is about to quit acting.

    Person B found acting slow going and had to have many day jobs in order to pay the bills, slowly but surely though she is built up a reputation of humility and ease to work with. Because she asked directors and producers what they wanted in an actor she quickly found how to please different bosses with different styles. Person B informed me the other day that they are about to quit their day job because acting is taking up so much time and it is paying the bills.

    Selling yourself doesn’t have to be a greasy slimy process – most of us in Australia associate “selling yourself” as someone who is like a used car sales man, but with a bit of humility and interest in others it can be a useful tool to help create interest in other people’s passions and projects and build others up.

    PS loved this post :)