Let’s Talk About the “Ick” Factor of Sales

“In your life, you are the product. Which means you should be the best person at selling yourself.” I explain. “But that feels weird, and I can’t sell,” they exclaim with horror.

I had no less than three coaching calls over the last couple of weeks where I had to talk someone back from the “ick” reaction when it comes to sales. While each situation was a little different, all of them practically recoiled with horror at even the idea that they might be “selling” in some way shape or form. The reaction was even stronger when I suggested that they needed to imagine THEY were a product they were trying to sell.

Earlier this year I wrote, “You Are the Product: How to present yourself in a powerful & impelling way.” The article outlines five objectives you should consider when defining your role, your product to sell.

So what is it with this genuine dislike for the idea of selling? Since these conversations, I’ve been wondering why the stereotype of the “sleazy car sales guy” or that selling is somehow dishonest and tacky still persist. Fortuitously, the Time article “5 Tactics to Win a Negotiation, According to an FBI Agent” about negotiation showed up in my social media feed this morning.

I recommend reading through the whole article, but in the interest of time, let me highlight the key points.

  • Mirror words selectively. This is one of the quickest ways to establish a rapport and make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves.
  • Practice tactical empathy. Proactively label their fears. Phrases like “It sounds like you are afraid of…” and “It looks like you’re concerned about…” go a long way in disarming them.
  • Get to a “no.” Being pushed for “yes” makes people defensive; they fear a trap.
  • Trigger “that’s right.” The moment you’ve convinced someone that you understand their dreams and feelings is the moment a negotiation breakthrough can happen.
  • Create the illusion of control. The secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is to give the other side the illusion of control.

In summary: “…our careers, finances, reputations, love lives and even the fate of our kids at some point hinge on our ability to negotiate.” As every sales opportunity is actually a negotiation, then we should use these same tactics in our sales process.


I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I thought someone was using these tactics with me I’d think he was trying to manipulate me! Or in the case of a salesperson, buy something I didn’t really want. No wonder we consider sales/negotiations seedy and shrewd. People will recoil at the idea of selling if presented like as an FBI negotiation. No one wants to manipulate someone into buying something. If you are the product and selling yourself, you don’t want to coerce your way into anything or present yourself in an ingenious way.

While the article has some good points, these are not the only factors. Any good salesperson will tell you; the key to being a great salesperson is to:

  • Ask questions of your potential client
  • Listen and analyze their responses to determine their issues/problems
  • Determine issues/problems you can solve.

Selling doesn’t have to be a manipulation. Selling is about asking, listening, and responding appropriately. Ultimately it’s about providing the best solution to the problems they need solving.

Which brings me back to the statement: You are the product. You need to be able to sell that product. Because aren’t you the solution to a problem that a hiring manager needs? And as the best solution shouldn’t you be the best person to sell this particular product?

Do you want help learning how to sell yourself the best way? In a way that’s authentic and bold, unique and compelling. It’s what I do. Learn more here.

Or just start by asking yourself, what kinds of problems am I brilliant at solving?

Be Curious: What We’re Reading

The Insanely Simple Way I Learned To Be Useful In Every Meeting.” by Thom Crowley in Fast Company.
Hint: It’s not about being the smartest person in the room.

Top traits of women in leadership.” in Biz Community.
Irrespective of the steps that women around the globe have taken to eradicate the glass ceiling, many women still feel the need to prove themselves in the corporate environment.

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