The Accidental Salesman

by Ouida on April 15, 2010

This post is inspired by Maren Kate of Years ago

I was talking to a friend of mine, Ted, an entrepreneur whose background is in sales  about the need to constantly promote your business. Honestly, I have always been annoyed by people who carry business cards and have their wares constantly on display.  It is almost impossible to go out to dinner with these people!

Maren posted “A Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur” on her blog.  Part of her daily routine is that she networks to find 2 new business contacts a day.  When I read her post, it hit me.  Success in business is about consistent self-promotion.

Some time ago, I was at a Cloning of Success (COS) workshop held in John Assaraf’s home. One person at the conference had been at another Assaraf event 6 weeks previously and had approached him about nutritional supplements.  He became a customer of her nutritional supplements business. At the COS workshop she developed other business relationships with a plastic surgeon and others.  This woman was always moving her business forward and no prospect was too big.   I know that her business generates a multiple six-figure income for her and her husband.

Sales and promotion are activities that we are simply not comfortable with.  We think of sales and we think of the door-to-door Electrolux salesman, the car salesman who ignores the woman in order to talk to “her man”, we think of buying things that we don’t need only to feel guilty about it afterward and we think of the blustery, aggressive sales person who “just doesn’t understand my needs.”

The fact is this:  We are all in sales even if by accident.  Launch a website and you have to promote it, you can do it the cheesy way, by buying software that leaves spam ads on websites or you can develop relationships with people of similar interests and add meaningfully to the discourse on their sites.  Lose a job and you have to promote yourself to get another one.  In this economic climate I have been surprised by the tactics people have used to land another job.  People have used Twitter, Face Book, have started blogs, have researched companies and put together marketing pieces for free to help that business move forward.  All of these tactics have at their heart self-promotion.  Create a product or service and, well, you get the point.

Self-promotion is difficult.  Most of us, me included, would rather act anonymously, posting flyers, posting ads hoping that someone, anyone will respond.  It really doesn’t work that way.  Self-promotion is a high contact sport and that is just the way it is.

You don’t have to have sales training and become the thing you hate in order to become an effective self-promoter, but you do have to be transparent, genuine, authentic and offer value.  Adam Baker posted the sales numbers from his e-book, Unautomate Your Finances, on his blog, Johnathan from posts his 401K port folio on his site and Chris Guillebeau of posts his earnings from his site on his blog.  If you like where these guys are coming from, follow them, if not don’t.  But there is no mistaking who these folks are.

In the time of social networks, blogging, article marketing, widely available Internet access, we have all become accidental salesmen.

What are you doing to move your business or idea forward?

Please comment.

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