Hate Selling Yourself? You Don’t Have To

I’ve been in the business of personal branding for well over a decade now. So you’d probably assume that when it comes to ‘selling myself’ I’d have everything sussed. But guess what? I don’t. Want to know why?

Because I don’t actually sell myself.

I know…seems hard to believe, eh? Because isn’t the whole idea of having a personal brand (just like any other type of brand) that you promote/advertise/market/sell it to others in order for them to buy it? Actually, no.

It’s much more subtle than that

Once you’ve defined what your personal brand is, your aim isn’t to plaster it all over the place, shoving it in people’s faces, forcing them to buy into it. (Which they probably won’t.) Instead, your aim is to share your brand with people in a way that explains what it is, educates them what you have to offer and engages them with your message. That way, they’ll buy into it because they want to – a much better proposition.

In marketing terms it’s similar to the push-pull strategy: you could push your message, but it’ll have more effect if you pull them in.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

I was a couple of years into my business when I bumped into a woman I’d worked with during my corporate days running a press office. We went for a coffee and a catch up and I told her what I was now doing, how I was doing it, who I was doing it with and how I was helping them.

After listening to me gabble on, she said, “I want you to work with me on my personal brand.” “Oh no! I hope you don’t think I was giving you a sales pitch!” I replied. “Not at all. I don’t want to use your services because you were selling them – you weren’t. I want to use you because it’s obvious you love what you do, you’re good at what you do and I want to benefit from that.”

Time and again, that’s the case: I get a new client not because I tried to sell them my personal brand, but because they hear me talk about what I do, see who I am when I’m doing it, and think ‘I need to get me some of that!’

It’s not selling that wins you business

What wins you business (or a pay-rise, or a new job, or whatever your goal is) is helping others to understand what your personal brand is all about – and especially ‘who’ you’re all about. Because the bottom line is people buy people before they’ll buy a product or service. Once people understand you, they’re better placed to decide if they want what you’re offering.

Or to put it another way…

I read an interview years ago with a guy who was a top salesman and the piece of advice he offered that has stayed with me is this:

When you meet someone, there are three things they need to know in the first five seconds – 1) I’m sharp as a tack, 2) I’m enthusiastic as hell and 3) I’m worth listening to because I’m going to help them achieve their goals.

Nowhere in there does he say the word ‘sell’, even though he’s a salesman.

So if you’ve been shying away from making the most of your personal brand because you don’t want to sell yourself, the great news is you don’t have to. All you have to do is explain it, educate people about it and engage people with it. The ‘sales’ will follow of their own accord.

How do you feel about the idea of ‘selling’ yourself and/or your personal brand? What do you find is the most effective way to get people to buy-into you? What stories and advice would you like to share? It’s all welcome below with a quick comment. Thanks.

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4 responses to “Hate Selling Yourself? You Don’t Have To”

  1. Jeff Clarke says:

    I agree.

  2. Denis Kaye says:

    Well put Jennifer; enthusiasm, experience and expertise are all it takes to sell if you’ve focused on the right prospects with the right services or products.

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