One of the most important skills you can ever develop is the
ability to sell. You are required to sell yourself all the time.
You do it when you apply for a job or a pay rise. You have to
sell yourself to your potential love partner. When you go to the
bank to apply for a loan, you are selling yourself there. To get
other people to agree with you, you have to sell your ideas. Even
if you want to do something creative and arty, you ultimately
have to sell people on liking it. It’s not much fun admiring your
masterpiece all by yourself.
So, marketing is vitally important in all areas of life.
Hence, you may as well learn to do it well, since you have to
do it anyway. The failure to do so is why so many people let
themselves down badly. However, most people do not want to know
the least bit about it, and treat the whole subject with
I have a friend who came up with a very useful invention. It took
him several years to develop, and the benefits of this device
could help many poor and needy people around the world. He
sweated blood to develop this thing. Then he turned over his
marketing to a so-called professional marketing company. The last
I heard, he was struggling to make a sale. When I took a quick
glance at the marketing these “pros” had created, it was less
What’s wrong with this picture? You spend years on your pet
project and then turn the job of getting your message out to a
bunch of people who work for a fee, and are not even specialists
in your field. Now, some agencies may be good (actually, very few
are), but the key is to check the results they have obtained for
other clients. In any case, who should really be creating your
marketing? Surely, the answer must be the person who knows most
about the product, whatever it may be. That person is YOU!
The scenario described above is very common indeed. People often
look down on selling as beneath them; as something dirty.
Alternatively, they consider it the domain of the experts;
something they can delegate and forget about. But if you work on
the principle that YOU are always responsible for the results in
your life, whatever they may be, then you are responsible for the
people who represent you and the results they obtain. There is no
use blaming them. In general, unless you can afford to hire
excellent marketing people, the best person to do the job is
Some top marketers even maintain that the marketing is MORE
important than the product itself. In many ways, this is true.
Even if you have a superb product or service, abysmal marketing
will guarantee that you fail to get the message out to the people
who need to hear about what you offer. Thus, by being a poor
marketer, you are not in some misguided way being “pure” and
above such worldly affairs. On the contrary, you are doing your
customers, or whomever could benefit from knowing about what you
offer, a massive disservice. You are depriving them of the
benefit that they might have gained, the additional ease or
pleasure that they might have had, if you had troubled yourself
to do your marketing job properly!
Here is the sad truth of life. The best do NOT always make it.
This is contrary to what you may have been taught. However, it is
true. Many times, excellence falls by the wayside whilst the less
excellent, but better marketed, go all the way. Too many people
think that once they have built a better mousetrap, the world
will beat a path to their door. It simply does not happen that
way. You could have the best product in the world, but with
rotten marketing, it will go nowhere fast. Alternatively, you
could have a medium product, but superb marketing will shift
it faster than an excellent one coupled with bad marketing.
Of course, you know this from personal experience. Doubtless, you
have been in the situation, or know someone who has, where you
deserved some sort of recognition or advancement as a result of
your skills. Instead, it went to someone else, who was a better
self promoter. However, that person was NOT necessarily more
skilled at the specific function in question. In such a
situation, there is no use whining. The other person understood
the rules of the game. You simply refused to learn them. Each of
you received your commensurate results.
You owe it to yourself to maximize your potential. An integral
part of this is knowing how to promote yourself effectively.
Nobody else will do this for you as capably as you can do it
yourself. Moreover, it does not matter what you are promoting
either. It has been truly said that if you are trying to reach
the widest audience for your product/service, take the SAME
approach as you would if you were planning to make a million
dollars out of it. Either way, the techniques are EXACTLY the
same. This is true however pure and spiritual your product itself
Moreover, do not fall into the trap of thinking that selling is a
dumb person’s job. If it were, copywriters (the people who write
those junk letters you keep getting in the mail) would not be THE
most highly paid writers of them all! Word for word, copywriters
earn more than any other kind of writer, bar none. Some can
charge $25,000-30,000 for a SINGLE sales letter! The really top
face-to-face salespeople are NOT caricature high-pressure
encyclopaedia pushers. You may be interested to learn that many
of the truly excellent salespeople are actually introverts. Their
particular skill is listening to, and empathizing with, the
customer; understanding the person’s needs and building true
rapport. The all-time best life insurance salesman in America – a
man who had sold literally billions of dollars worth of insurance
– was so shy that when he was called upon to give a speech before
an audience, he did so from behind a curtain!
Marketing is not a con. It requires empathy, recognition of a
person’s needs and wants, mastery of psychology, and excellent
communication skills. Only mediocre salespeople manipulate their
clients. The truly excellent ones are as concerned that you are
just as happy with the transaction as they are.
So what can you do about all this? Learn about the science of
promotion and marketing, as it best applies to you. Everyone has
different needs, but it’s certain that everyone DOES need sales
skills in some area. It may be that you need to improve at
communicating and relating to others in the workplace. You may
have just written a book (or want to), and need to know how to
get the message out to the world. Maybe you are an artist, and
want more people to get to know about and buy your work.
Don’t just “wing it” and hope for the best, as so many people do.
Develop an action plan of what you want to do and the resources
you need to do it. There are many excellent sales and marketing
courses available online and offline.
Almost everyone could benefit from learning Copywriting – the art
of writing advertisements and sales letters. It teaches you to
write clearly and to the point. Copywriting is all about
persuasion in print. When you know how to do this, you need never
fear creating an excellent product, and then have to rely on
others to promote it at great expense. You can do it all
yourself. Persuasion in print has powerful applications in MANY
areas of your life.
Check out the works of expert marketers like Dan Kennedy, Jay
Abraham, Gary Halbert, Ted Nicholas, Marlon Sanders, and others
like them. As regards learning how to effectively present and
promote yourself, the works of people like Tony Robbins and Brian
Tracy are well worth studying.
The point is that each of us is responsible for the results we
get in life. So why settle for mediocrity in this key area when,
with a little effort, excellence can be yours? Achieving
excellence in this one core skill will impact EVERY area of your
life. Think seriously about which area would best benefit from
improved sales and marketing skills. Get to work on it today.
Copyright Asoka Selvarajah 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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