How to Sell Yourself (without being salesy)
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Too many solopreneurs get tangled up in the same problem: They love what they're doing, but they struggle to actually sell their product or service.
Without selling, you don’t really have a business. What you have is a hobby.
Selling is a requirement for any business and, unfortunately, being a salesperson doesn’t come naturally to most people.
Selling makes people feel uncomfortable.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
And it shouldn’t be that way.
Today I want to shift that perspective. To make selling feel more natural, and maybe even fun.
Meet Robert Cialdini
Robert Cialdini is a legendary social psychologist who unveiled the secrets behind human decision-making when he published a book called Influence back in 1984.
Influence shares insights about the art of persuasion and empowers people to ethically influence others to achieve desired outcomes.
The book introduced Cialdini’s “6 Principles of Persuasion”.
These principles teach us how selling can be done ethically, effectively, and cringe-free.
I want you to learn about these principles so you can test them out in your own business.
Let’s dive in.
Principle 1: Reciprocity
Ever noticed how you're inclined to return a favor when someone does something nice for you?
It's human nature.
Tap into reciprocity by becoming a source of never-ending value.
Share your knowledge freely, promote others without an agenda, and engage genuinely, rather than transactionally.
This way, you're not just another face in the crowd asking for help or responding with generic text; you become known for giving more than taking.
Reciprocity is the foundation of everything else in this issue.
→ How to practically apply this principle: Once per week, find a creator entrepreneur you admire and analyze and break down their work. Then, share it on social media. You get value, the creator gets value, and your audience gets value.
Principle 2: Commitment & Consistency
A big part of persuasion and selling is encouraging your audience to commit, even in a small way.
Consider a newsletter sign-up: It's a simple commitment, but one that makes a subscriber much more likely to engage with you in the future.
And the more people engage with you, the more likely they are to keep you top of mind when they’re looking for a solution to a problem.
So instead of focusing on “selling”, focus on getting your audience to take small transactional steps with you, even if those transactions are free.
Maybe you start by asking people to give you a follow. Then sign up for a newsletter. Maybe a few months later, you position your lead magnet.
Every small free transaction increases the likelihood they’ll become paid customers in the future.
→ How to practically apply this principle: Find one opportunity to ask for a small, free, “transaction” this week. To give you a follow, or maybe join your free newsletter.
Principle 3: Establish Social Proof
Positive reviews and testimonials are my secret weapon (and can be yours too).
When potential customers see others vouching for you, they feel reassured and become much more likely to convert to customers themselves.
Great customer testimonials will always be more potent than a good landing page or even the best copywriting.
If you're already playing the reciprocity game (Principle 1) effectively, it’s pretty easy to tap people for a nice testimonial about your product or service.
If you’ve still never made a sale, barter with some people in your audience.
Consider letting your biggest fans have a free (or reduced cost) trial of your product or service so you can collect your first few testimonials.
→ How to practically apply this principle: Reach out to one happy customer and ask if they'd be willing to write a 2-3 sentence testimonial about their experience.
Principle 4: Build Authority
Establishing authority is a critical piece of any selling effort.
There’s a lot of noise out there.
So why should people buy from you?
You can’t just tell. You have to show.
Earn trust and establish authority by linking to articles you’ve authored, podcast or interview appearances where you dive deep into your subject matter, or by showcasing case studies or a portfolio of your work.
Remember, people trust experts. But it’s hard to be an “expert” when you’re limited to short-form social media posting.
Customers can discover you on social media. But you’ll need longer-form media to establish authority.
“Expert” status isn’t given. It’s proven.
→ How to practically apply this principle: Find time in the next 30 days to write one piece of longer-form content about something you've learned that is relevant to your audience.
Principle 5: Affection
This principle focuses on tapping into our natural inclination to agree with (and buy from) people we like.
I think the best way to earn affection is to be relatable and kind.
Share your personal journey - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell people what you believe in, and be an example of your values. And treat everyone with respect, even when you disagree with them.
Over time, followers will gain a good understanding of who you are and what you stand for. And people who resonate with your message will become your biggest fans, while people who don’t agree will naturally unfollow or ignore you.
And that’s okay! It’s all part of building the right following for your business.
Lastly, ignore negativity. Be a person who ignites positive energy and valuable conversations.
The internet can be a downright nasty place sometimes. Don’t fall for it.
→ How to practically apply this principle: Find 3-5 people this month that have made an impact on you. Shoot them a short DM or email telling them exactly why they've impacted you and what you've done with that impact.
Principle 6: Scarcity
Last but not least, by introducing elements of scarcity, you can create a sense of urgency that can lead to improvements in your sales.
Limited-time offers or invite-only deals are some examples of this.
Yes, this can come across as slightly more “sales-y” (that dreaded word) than some of the other techniques. But when done right, it’s effective.
Just remember, balance is key. And you don't want to overdo it.
Consider a yearly calendar where you identify quarterly opportunities for urgency and scarcity for your products and services.
A pre-determined selling strategy can help you plan your best possible messaging and avoid last-minute sales that could come off as desperate or aggressive.
→ How to practically apply this principle: Create your "urgency calendar" for the next 12 months. Can you find 2-4 times this year to build scarcity around your business, products, and services?
If you're struggling to sell, stop thinking about money and focus on the principles instead:
- Commitment & Consistency
- Establish Social Proof
- Build Authority
When executed effectively, these ideas can help you transform a hobby into a real business.
I hope you enjoyed these 6 practical applications for your business.
Good luck out there.
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