Are effective selling skills the result of good genes or a talent that some possess and others do not? Certainly some people have a natural ability to speak and persuade. If you lack a flair for selling, take heart; the skills can be learned! Even if you have a natural ability to promote yourself, you can polish your selling techniques and gain new ones. All it takes is the desire to know yourself better, an understanding of communication techniques, and practice.
#1. Know Yourself: A Simple Exercise
To sell yourself you must first have an understanding of who you are, what you do well, and how you're perceived by others. Self-awareness can begin with this simple exercise. List 10 adjectives you feel best describe you. Ask two friends, a loved one, or associates to do the same.
Compare the three lists. Frequently others identify characteristics of which you may not have been aware previously. On the other hand, it may surprise you that others agree with your self-perceptions. Getting this kind of feedback can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, more often the process is enlightening and even flattering. The better you know your strengths and weaknesses, the more comfortable you will be with yourself. Awareness of your natural strengths is essential to developing a personal style that's more effective in attracting clients.
#2. Get Visual Feedback
Once you have an idea of your best qualities (as well as the less flattering ones), you need to see yourself as others do. When you speak, how do you look and how do you sound? Being videotaped can show you. If it's combined with a professional critique, it will provide you with invaluable knowledge. Many of the clients I coach are truly amazed at how dull they look and sound after watching themselves. We tend to think we're much more animated and dynamic than we actually are. Video doesn't lie.
#3. Make Your Total Image Count
How important is your image? Most experts agree that content accounts for only 8% of a successful speech or presentation. Fifty percent depends on how you say it, and 42% depends on how you look.
Those statistics suggest you should pay attention to the non-verbal message you project. Let me give you an example: A smile is probably the most underused mannerism we have. A smile sends a positive message of warmth and enthusiasm to a listener. We all know how much warmer we feel toward a person whose handshake is accompanied with a smile rather than a grim, expressionless "pleased to meet you."
Some people even suggest that a smile can come through your mobile; try it.
This is Part One in a two-part series on the Art of Selling Yourself. Part Two is here.