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Never Sell Yourself – Let People Buy You by Jeb Blount

Sales expert and bestselling author Jeffrey Gitomer teaches a simple philosophy, “People love to buy but they hate to be sold.”

In other words, most people prefer to buy on their terms. They do not want or appreciate a hard pitch or a features dump. Yet millions of salespeople daily, either on the phone or in person, sell to their customers by dumping data, pushing their position, or simply trying to talk their way into a sale.

Most of us, at one time or another in our careers, have heard some wise trainer or manager exclaim,

“You have to sell yourself.”

“If you want to get that job, son, you have to sell yourself.”

“The real key to sales is your ability to sell yourself.”

“If you want others to like you, you’ll have to sell yourself.”

This philosophy is prevalent in our business culture. Recently I was at an Ivy League University for a speech by a successful businessman to a group of MBA students from the top business schools in the world. The speaker was so well respected that when he walked into the room there was a hush. The audience members were on the edge of their seats in anticipation. And what was the message? What was the secret of success that this revered businessman offered? “Never forget how important it is in business to first sell yourself.” The entire audience nodded in unison.

For this wise man and many others, the phrase sell yourself has become an easy-to-use cliché. It just rolls off the tongue. Like the audience at the speech I attended, most people will nod their heads in agreement to the statement as if some prophet on a hill had just read it from stone tablets. Then, they go forth into the world and start selling at networking events, to clients, prospects, hiring managers, and anyone else they can get to stand still for more than five minutes. You’ve heard it. These are the people who tell you all about themselves, their accomplishments, and how great they are.

But it does not work, because people like to buy, they don’t like to be sold. In fact, the harder you try to sell yourself to others the more you push them away. A conversation where the other person tells you all about how great they are is a turnoff. It is a features dump. You don’t walk away from that conversation thinking how much you would like to spend more time with them. Instead you think, “What a jerk,” or “How boring,” or “Wow, that guy is full of himself.”

Of course, we do love the opportunity to sell ourselves. Most of us, if given the opportunity, will talk for hours about our favorite person, oblivious to the negative impact it has on how we are viewed by others.

You cannot sell yourself to others; you have to get others to buy you on their terms. Even if you are preceded by a great reputation and others are anticipating meeting you, your attempts to sell yourself can backfire. People Buy You for their reasons, not for your reasons. So when we sell people on why they should like us, it backfires. However, when they choose to buy you for their reasons, it creates a powerful connection and a relationship that makes almost anything possible.

Five Tips To Get People To Buy You

1. Be Likable: Likability is the gateway to connections and ultimately to relationships. If others don’t find you likable, then it is virtually impossible to form profitable business relationships. If you are not likable, people will not buy you or from you. Likability is responsible for first impressions because it happens in an instant, and it is responsible for ongoing impressions because it can be lost in an instant. When people find you likable, the door opens to emotional connections, to trust, and ultimately to business relationships that help you build a successful career and income.

Smile and use your positive attitude and optimism to project a cheerful, smiling, outgoing personality. People love to be around happy, optimistic people.

2. Connect: The key to connecting is listening deeply with your eyes and ears. Listen to what your customers say and observe their emotions. There are things they are passionate about. Look for common ground here. When you truly connect with someone, you take rapport to the next level. You begin to move from a business relationship to a friendship. Connecting tears down walls that tend to get in the way of real communication and understanding. When people feel connected with you they feel more comfortable telling you their real problems. With this information in hand, you have the opportunity to solve problems that really matter. This ability provides real value and engenders true loyalty. Strong connections are hard to break and are the foundation of truly prosperous, long-term business relationships.

3. Solve Problems: One of the immutable laws of the universe is that when you give to others, you are rewarded tenfold. Problem solvers are the champions of the business world. However, it is impossible to solve problems you do not know about, which is why connecting is so critical. The essence of business is one person solving another person’s problem. A solved problem is the value that buyers pay for. It is the most important lever in the People Buy You philosophy.

The most successful business people take problem solving to the next level. These individuals are constantly on the lookout for problems they can solve-even if it has no direct impact on their business. They live by the motto, “By helping others get what they want, I will get what I want.”

4. Build Trust: Trust is the glue that holds relationships together and the foundation on which all long-term relationships rest. Trust is developed with tangible evidence that you do what you say you will do, that you keep promises, and that you maintain a consistent commitment to excellence. It means going the extra mile in everything you do. In a world in which most people are doing just enough to get by, those business professionals who consistently do more than they have to will stand out. Buyers appreciate and reward this commitment to excellence with repeat business, referrals, and ultimately with trust.

5. Create Positive Emotional Experiences: Learn to make dealing with you fun, relaxing, and rewarding. You always want to leave your customers and prospects thinking about you and remembering you positively so it is imperative that you find ways to create positive emotional experiences for your customers. The key is to focus on the little things. Remember birthdays, send handwritten notes, do the unexpected. Just as an anchor is used to hold a ship in place against currents, wind, tide, and storm, positive emotional experiences anchor your relationships. They leave people wanting more of you.
Jeb Blount is CEO of SalesGravy.com, one of leading sales website on the internet, and author of People Buy You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Business, Sales Guy’s 7 Rules for Outselling the Recession, and Power Principles.

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