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You’re not selling the product, you’re selling yourself

Chris Field
Chris Field

How many people do you know in marketing who would do practically any other job rather than become a salesperson?

To people who are not in sales, sales seems like the hardest job in the world – having to deal with 10 answers of no for every yes; having to look someone in the eye and ask for what can seem like the last thing they want to give; constantly under threat of missing targets, and then still missing the targets.

It takes a certain type of person right? You’ve met plenty of salespeople and concluded that they are just not like everyone else, and therefore surely they must be born not made. Clearly, some are, and I take my hat off to some of the best.

But in truth, there’s a salesperson inside us all – and new salespeople are discovering their inner ‘Dragons Den’ every day.

They are coming out of the startups, the one or two-person businesses launched by entrepreneurs who are fully-formed salespeople ready to pitch their idea to pretty much anyone – VCs, new staff, customers, the media, and their own proud but slightly incredulous families. They get up selling and go to bed selling.

These are the role models for anyone who wants to get into sales, not the generation of salespeople who wrote the IT sales manual 30 years or more ago, as they came through IBM, Unilever and Mars.

Now it’s personal; the new entrepreneurs are selling themselves. The idea and the people behind it are indivisible, as the story is played out in every channel, but chiefly through peer to peer networks like LinkedIn, the tech hubs, VC mashups and hackathons. And their greatest weapon is their self-belief, which can on more occasions than not manifest as arrogance, but always with impatience to get on.

This was the big lesson to me – you’re not selling a product, you are selling yourself and unless you are invested in that, it’s not going to ring true. We now call that authenticity, which may mean telling the world as much about your failures as your success, but at least we can now all see the living beating heart behind the idea.

I like to see some of the blood and sweat that has gone into anything I buy.

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