Selling Anything, Including Yourself

Filed Under: March 2019

By Ja-Naé Duane
Selling doesn’t come easily to all of us. But selling is key to long-term success whether you’re an artist, lawyer, accountant, designer or engineer trying to build your own business or if you work for a large company and have a great, innovative idea  you need to sell to management. The selling process includes both your idea and you. It’s a package deal.
So how do you get people to engage with what you have to offer? How do you sell with confidence that people will listen?

  1. Get personal.

You have a story to tell, and people need to hear it. Often when we’re sharing or promoting ourselves or our ideas, we tend to focus on “just the facts.” It’s totally understandable. After all, how can people make a decision to support you if they don’t know the details? Well, sometimes details aren’t enough. Our brains tend to engage and respond to messages if we tell a story. The story can include how you came to where you are today or the problem that you’re solving.
For instance, let’s say you’ve been working for a larger company for many years, and you’re now making the leap to starting something of your own. Telling the story of the catalyst that took you from going to a job to building your dream can be a powerful sales tool.

  1. Create an experience.

When you’re describing yourself, your biz or your idea, craft an immersive experience. Help people feel like they are a part of your story, and don’t be afraid to demonstrate how their problem is being solved by hiring you or investing in your idea. Smart selling usually involves providing examples that put the other person in the moment and show them how things will be better with you and your idea.
The more you can create an experience the easier it becomes for people to agree with your vision. If there’s a way for someone to physically test some aspect of what your suggesting, go for it. Give people an opportunity to see what they’ll be missing if they don’t say “yes.”

  1. Show your passion.

Passion is contagious. In fact, early research suggests that your ability to “influence the emotional climate” at your startup or where you work can have a strong “influence [on] performance.” In other words, when you show your passion and why you’re passionate about your work or idea, people respond. Think about what drives you. Why are you sharing this story in the first place?
Knowing and understand your big “why” will help you sell with clarity and focus. You not only have a story to tell, but you’ve got powerful emotions to back up your mission.

  1. Know your ask.

This one will sound super obvious, but a lot of people forget it. As you wrap up your pitch, you need to know what you want. What’s the call to adventure? What do you want this person or group to do? Be careful to avoid confusing people with multiple calls-to-action. Be specific and clear so someone knows exactly what you’re asking and it’s easier for them to say, “Yes.”
In a way, that’s the desired goal for just about any sales pitch, whether it involves your idea or you. You want someone to say, “Yes.” So as you work through these four things, weigh your options against that end goal. What do you need to say and do to get there?
This process will take practice, but we all have within us an ability to sell. But people can only buy when we take the time to offer them something. It’s time to stop waiting and to start selling. You’ve got this!
Ja-Naé Duane is Founder of The Revolution Factory and co-author of The Startup Equation. She can be reached at

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