Want to Boost Sales? Sell Yourself!
In today’s world, stories about celebrities selling their brands—and their celebrity blunders—fly at us on a daily basis.
This isn’t one of them.
In fact, this is the opposite. It’s about the importance of selling your personal brand as a small business owner. Because if you’re a solopreneur or if you run a small business, there’s a good chance your personal and professional brands are one and the same.
Which means creating and selling your personal brand—developing a strong reputation in every aspect of your life—can have a big impact on your business.
That’s the takeaway in the book, “Sell Yourself: How to Create, Live, and Sell a Powerful Personal Brand,” by author Dr. Cindy McGovern. In it, she takes a simple concept—the way people think of you—and explores it in depth. She helps readers understand how they are perceived, which can be different than the way they think they are perceived, and appreciate how that impression can affect their businesses.
McGovern emphasizes the importance of changing that perception (or personal brand) if you aren’t happy with it. And she describes the many verbal and non-verbal ways to demonstrate your brand, or what she calls “selling yourself.”
Sales: A New Definition
One of the most interesting things McGovern does in “Sell Yourself,” is redefine the term “sales.”
So few people think of themselves as being in sales, but everyone is, she explains. The thought of selling often makes people feel like they’re trying to take advantage of someone, but McGovern defines a sale simply as making a good impression.
And those good impressions result in more business. Whether you’re selling products or services, people who are exposed to your positive personal brand are more likely to become customers, reviewers, and referrers.
McGovern points out that everyone successfully sells themselves every day, but because they don’t realize it, many people don’t try to figure out how to become better at it.
“You sell when you convince your five-year-old that a bit of crunchy broccoli will taste better if it flies into his mouth like an airplane. You sell when you ask another dad in your kid’s carpool to trade days with you … you sell when you ask a friend to spot you a buck so you can buy a snack from the vending machine.”
Dr. Cindy McGovern, “Sell Yourself”
And she believes that every job is a sales job.
McGovern cites several examples of small businesses that benefit significantly from the strong personal brands of owners and employees, including:
- The medical office whose friendly, helpful receptionist exudes professionalism and inspires patients to refer their friends. Her cheerful, competent, professional personal brand is a big part of the medical practice’s brand, and a reason the patients come back.
- The Uber driver who wanted to improve his reviews. He gave his friends rides and asked them what they thought might be the problem. An old car and an unremarkable experience, they said. So, he bought a nicer car, washed it every day, held doors for his passengers, and offered them bottled water. The five-star reviews started pouring in. His personal brand, “average Uber driver,” got an upgrade to “exceptional, friendly, thoughtful Uber driver,” and success followed.
You’re selling your brand any time you have contact with a customer or potential customer. McGovern argues that people with strong personal brands will always be better at making these small but very important sales and improving their small businesses.
Five Steps to Sell Your Brand
McGovern offers advice, exercises, and worksheets to small business owners and their employees who may be able to improve business performance by taking a close look at the way customers and potential customers perceive them. Here’s her five-step plan for selling your brand and your small business:
- Plan for the sale. Create your personal brand and a plan to demonstrate it to others.
- Find opportunities to sell yourself, not just your business. Network to expose people to your brand, identify formal and informal leaders in the community who can advocate for you.
- Establish trust. Be relevant and consistent; build and protect your reputation.
- Ask for what you want. From help to reviews to referrals, don’t be afraid to ask for the support you need.
- Follow up. Do it consistently and with gratitude.
With relevant examples and easy to follow formulas, “Sell Yourself” can help a small businessperson develop the personal brand they need to boost their reputation, find new customers, and turn current customers into reviewing, referring fans.
Boosting Sales—Other Recommended Reading
Check out these other great books to help you sell yourself and your business:
- “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others,” by Daniel Pink – A new way to think about “sales,” with counterintuitive advice for becoming more persuasive.
- “Book Yourself Solid,” by Michael Port – Tips on self-promotion and social media strategies to raise your business profile.
- “Influence: Science and Practice,” by Robert Cialdini – Psychological techniques to get people to say “yes.”
- “Word That Sell,” by Richard Bayan – Supercharge your social media and promotional writing by choosing words that motivate customers.
- “The Sales Magnet,” by Kendra Lee – Fourteen strategies for attracting new customers without cold calling.
Jim Monroe is an author, business leader, marketing and product strategist. He is passionate about helping young managers be successful by avoiding common mistakes. His latest book on management is “Don’t Be a Jerk Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management.”