The Art of Selling (Yourself)
Why is it so important to sell?
I mean, why is it important TO KNOW HOW to sell?
It seems like it is a necessary human condition to learn this skill. And surprisingly enough, it’s like we’re born without this knowledge. And in school we start learning how to communicate, how to sell, and we’re told exactly what to do to accomplish it.
We created the words. They evolved throughout the time and languages proliferated. In any case, we gave birth to them. The ideas were out there, they belonged to everyone. You can even imagine them as air balloons that, covering the sky, are increasingly approaching the Earth, to land on our sides. And we capture them, giving them sounds to share them, and communicate them to others.
Communicating is one of the most basic things, although not exclusive, from the humans.
In fact, we created an educative system so that people would be alphabetized. And as a consequence, they’d learn how to express themselves from an early age.
However, we still need help for that. We are still writing and reading books about this.
To share this sounds that altogether, creates communication.
So my thought is: if educational system was working well, we’d be all experts on communication right now. We wouldn’t need a book with “How to sell” as a title. Because we’d already be ninjas about it.
I want to understand why we don’t realize the value of words, until we’re in a stressful or difficult situation that’s an obstacle for us.
This obstacle is oftentimes the language. But also can be built in the same language, in your mother tongue.
For instance, when we’re told something that hurts us. Then we reproach others for those words they pronounced to us. We may keep them in our memory where they’ll never be deleted. Words are very powerful: they can help you sell, but can also destroy your day.
Why does this happen? Ideas. Words. Everything is out there. They belong to everybody. However, every time we speak or write something, we don’t come up with the most suitable word. When talking, we’re not capable of pronouncing a sound that will lead to a word. And suddenly, that word becomes the last thing we’d wanted to say.
While in Amsterdam, during my Internship program at Danone, I’d feel in disadvantage compared to my coworkers. Not for working in a different country: I loved moving countries. I’m from Spain: there was not much working offer there.
It was a total mess: I had to find an apartment to live before getting to Holland. And I had to avoid scamming, because apparently there are thousands of people who scam expats by sending pictures of a home that looks like an Ikea catalogue and asking for the money in advance. They’d send you some fake keys, and when you arrive at the front door you’re supposed to go, your keys wouldn’t fit. That’s how scam works there. So I had to avoid that. Watch out if you’re asked to transfer money in advance.
But fortunately, I found a nice cozy house in the outskirts of Amsterdam owned by an Hungarian couple. They rented 2 more rooms, and we were 4 Hungarians and a Catalan girl (me) in there. It was fun.
But I felt in disadvantage there as well: at home everyone would speak hungarian. And at work everyone would speak in English, or German or French or Dutch. I needed to speak Catalan, or Spanish. But I couldn’t.
So while dealing with that, I had to pull out the words, even if I was tired from thinking in English. I looked like I had a mental breakdown while talking. Apparently, I was pulling funny faces while thinking for a word. It was exhausting.
I had another experience like that when I was 14. I went to Boston for 3 weeks and I lived with a host family. I spoke only English for 3 weeks and it was difficult. I was pronouncing every word incorrectly (like ‘neighbor’), and I had to make gestures while speaking (for instance, to say ‘hair dryer’ I’d make the noise and the gesture you do when you dry your hair). My English was awful at 14 mainly because at school we learned English “the spanish way”. That means: way too formal and with wrong pronunciation (if any).
So having this new experience, dealing with mental breakdowns and face-pulling-episodes, made me realize how important is to sell ideas. And how important is to know how to communicate. And not only that: how important is to pronounce the adequate words. And the adequate silences.
Most speakers brand themselves with their great ability of communicating. It all has to do with the body language, their intonation and the pauses they make while talking. The rhythm of their sentences. The speed of their words. Everything is precisely pulled together.
Without noticing, I wanted to speak too fast in English. I wanted to had the same rhythm I had when talking Spanish or Catalan. But as a culture, in Spain we speak faster and louder. I couldn’t keep up this with English. It’s a whole new rhythm.
With this experience, I had a revelation: I had avoided until then, my ability to speak: my intonation, my body language, my reactions to different people, and how this changed.
I kind of applied mindfulness to my speaking and communication skills. I not only had deficiencies with my English speaking… but also in my Catalan and Spanish speaking as well.
I had to take the opportunity to build up my skills again: because communication is what makes us. Every perception others have about us, is built in our communicative skills.
So as a marketing passionate, I had to brand myself. I had to build my communication skills from scratch according to my personality. As a summary, I compiled these key bullets:
- Know your history by heart. The content that you’re about to communicate is a part of you. Integrate that into your mind.
- Once you learn the content you’re sharing, take care of your networking. Who are you going to pitch (=sell) your idea?
- When and where. There’s lots of factors that condition that. You must consider even if the person you’re selling has had a bad day. If yes, wait until the next day.
- Take care of your appearance. Your packaging says a lot about you. That’s why people get surgery or Botox.
- Trust in yourself and take care of who you’re talking to. The more you know your story by heart, the more confident you will be.
- Learn from mistakes, you can always rectify. As long as you don’t hurt someone by your words.