If you want to succeed, someone has to buy what you’re selling.
Your occupation matters little. You are, and always will be, your own product, and you’ll never stop having to sell.
How does a politician get elected? Sales. How does a corporate careerist move up the ladder? Sales. How does a freelance Web professional build a sustainable brand? Sales.
It doesn’t matter whether your audience is the local electorate, the head of a department or John Doe browsing for design work from his home computer. You have to sell them on you.
Just like it’s a mistake to that think local residents vote based on a list of docket issues or that a middle manager is interested in your interchangeable work performance, it’s a mistake to think John Doe truly cares how many clients you’ve worked for.
You are the product
If you’re selling yourself well, you’re dictating the issues most heavy on your constituents’ minds. Your manager had you marked for promotion since the first week he met you. Clients like John Doe stop their search and call after visiting your website because they’re convinced only you can provide them with everything they desire.
The places you go in life will depend on your ability to sell yourself to the people in power. Just like no two customers are alike, it’s a tossup whether you’ll find yourself thrust before an easy buy or a tough sell. But if you become great at selling yourself, the circumstances will matter little.
If you’re the product, how do you sell yourself?
Know your product
Salesmen need to know their product, and you have to know who you are and what you have to offer.
This goes much deeper than your talents, skill set and experience. Who are you? What makes you come alive? What’s your essence? These answers are crucial because you can’t successfully sell a product until you understand it inside and out. If you can’t grasp what you bring to the table, the skills you possess will only get you so far.
It’s not just confidence; it’s identity. Your view of yourself is the lens you view the world through. What does this have to with business? Everything.
When you’re sitting across the table from a prospective client, he or she will never be more confident in your Web service than you are. Your passion in yourself is the energy that instills confidence into your clients.
Is this the only factor? Of course not. Once the doors open, you have to deliver. But how many people never see an open door? How many qualified individuals never get a shot? We’ve all read about CEOs who bankrupt companies and promptly get hired at another Fortune 500 firm.
Why is that? It’s not their recent job performance. Some people believe so strongly in who they are, it’s contagious. Speaking to these individuals elicits a desire to follow them into battle, even if they’re leading you to your death.
What would happen if the more conscientious among us figured this out? Successful people know who they are. They know their strengths, their weaknesses, their limits and their potential. They know their product, and that’s why they sell it so well.
Know your audience
Picture the last time you were at a party. You probably spent the evening initiating conversation with a variety of different folks. You liked some, disliked others and, perhaps, you really connected with a few.
Typically, you connect with people who approach life in a similar manner. What’s true in a recreational context is also true in a business context, because people are people regardless of the environment. You’ll always have a much easier time selling yourself to like-minded individuals.
If innovation and pioneering make you tick, target the innovators. If investing in the long haul and building something sustainable is more your variety, you’ll have no problem selling yourself to those with a similar passion.
You’ll be far more successful at selling yourself if you target the correct audience.
But don’t stop at identification. Research your audience, observe them and try to think as they do. Find the need. What does your target audience need that you have to offer? What do they need that you can find, acquire and offer them? If you don’t know, you can’t sell.
Always play to win
Forget survival. You’ll survive. Forget “just enough.” The only requirement for being successful is the willingness to lose it all. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Go for broke.
That’s a lot of rhetoric, but what does it look like in the context of selling you?
Whenever you close a sale, decide which strategy to take. Are you going to trust in your pitch and go for the big, all-inclusive sale? Or are you going to play it safe and offer the economy edition, complete with a free sample of permanent mediocrity?
What do you need? What do you want? Successful people turn down a promotion at a job they hate to start the business they want. Successful people take a loss this year to build launching pads for exponential growth next year. Successful people know they can afford to fail because they’re convinced the world needs what they have to offer.
Don’t let fear, doubt or inconvenience stand in your way. You’ll get plenty of nos, but don’t be denied. The urge to maintain the status quo is powerful, but choosing convenience will sabotage what you actually want in life.
It’s simple on paper, but few can make the transfer. Know you. Know your audience. Play to win.
Jacob McMillen is an entrepreneur and writer who enjoys thinking in his spare time. For more of his sweet, sweet lines on topics like How To Meet Deadlines, visit his blog Uncompromised Men right this second (before it disappears).