Ever been in sales?
If so, you can still hear it, if you try. Dig down deep. Remember. Hold your briefcase to your ear like a conch shell.
Instead of the rush of the sea, you will hear your old manager. Your mentor. Your well meaning uncle. A chorus of past salesmen, whispering words of wisdom:
“You don’t sell your product. You sell yourself.”
I am terrible at selling myself. I always have been.
It’s not that I’m reserved, or introverted, or concerned about saying the wrong thing. I’m great with words. Words are kind of my thing. I’m blessed enough to make a living off my words.
And I don’t have any strong negative feelings about sales, either. Sure, there are dishonest and slimy salespeople out there. I hate that. I mean, there’s a Gallup poll about honesty in professions which reveals that only 2% of car salesmen are considered to have “very high” ethical standards.
(As a former car salesman, I think that perception is pretty well deserved.)
But with that being said, there are also some really great salespeople who genuinely try and connect people with products and services that suit their needs. Sales is a necessary service.
When it comes to my clients, I’m great at selling. And even in my personal life… when I come across a short story I love, a record I can’t stop listening to, or a banging breakfast taco, (looking at you, Good Truckin’ Diner,) I have no problem being a top notch promoter. A champion cheerleader.
What does this mean? Well, it’s pretty simple.
The problem I have with selling myself doesn’t have anything to do with the selling. It’s a problem with myself.
I’m not alone. Most people hate self-promotion.
And I think a lot of it comes down to humility.
We love humble people. We don’t like people who brag and boast about how awesome they are. It’s tacky, it’s self-absorbed, and it’s something that society tries to train out of us.
(Well. When it’s not training you to spend all your time updating your Insta feed.)
Everybody loves to talk about themselves, but nobody wants to be that person who always talks about themselves.
Real talk: I’m very scared of being seen as that guy. I don’t have the best feelings about myself, and I tend to assume that other people feel the same way that I do, or that they’re paying as close attention to my faults as I am.
(It’s called the spotlight effect, and it’s pretty messed up.)
So even when I do something I’m really proud of, like publishing a story, I spend a lot of time trying to find a way to promote it without coming off like an arrogant jerk.
Usually, it manifests as wishy-washy language and softening statements. Like a nerd trying to ask out their prom date.
“Um, hi. I- uh- wrote this thing, and I was just wondering if, like, you wanted to check it out or something. Or not. Whatever. No pressure.”
You don’t need a background in sales and marketing to know that this isn’t the most effective way to get a response. It communicates fear of unworthiness, it communicates lack of confidence, it does nothing to encourage action. In fact, it encourages the target audience to wait for something better to come along.
It communicates an utter lack of value.
If you work hard on something, that hard work has value.
It doesn’t matter what you do. Whether you’re making art or starting a real estate business. Whether you’re promoting your financial services or your Glam rock cover band, what you do matters.
And people deserve to know about it.
Here’s the dirty secret, one that I’m still learning and processing: keeping your accomplishments and gifts hidden doesn’t do anyone any favors.
It doesn’t help the people who love and care about you, who want to support your endeavors.
It doesn’t help the people who could genuinely be impacted by what you do.
And it certainly doesn’t help you further your goals. Your career. Your dreams.
Remember the good salespeople? The ones who aren’t slimy opportunists asking you “what’s it gonna take to get you to drive off the lot today in this beautiful ’89 Plymouth Sundance?”
Despite what your old manager might say, those people aren’t selling themselves. They’re selling something of value. Something that’s going to serve the needs of their customers.
When you get hung up on the idea of self-promotion, don’t think about “selling yourself.”
Think about what you have to offer.
Here’s the sappy part: your dreams are worth sharing.
Your hard work doesn’t lose worth just because you’re the one doing it.
Get out there. Show off your stuff. Do the things. Get new clients. Sell more units of whatever-it-is-you-do. You can do it. Go You!
Rah rah, siss boom bah.
If you need professional blogs, optimized for SEO, that can drive traffic to your business, holler at me. Also, be sure to check out the monthly blogging packages we offer at SuperWebPros to get the most out of your content marketing strategy.