Are Creatives Sales-Challenged?

Last week I had an interesting chat with Marketing Mentor and Business Coach Ilise Benun, the author of the Marketing Plan + eCalendar that I used as a base for my marketing strategy and of which I spoke about in my post ”Your One Person Orchestra”. She was interested in knowing how had I adapted her plan to my business. And while we were discussing that, I told her that her guidance was much appreciated because I am a really bad at selling myself. This was not the first time that she had heard this statement, and our conversation inspired her post ”Lame Marketing Excuse #1: ‘I’m really bad at selling myself.’”.

The questions that remained in my head after we finished our call were: do I think that I am bad at selling myself because I can’t sell anything or because I haven’t learned how to do it? And if it’s only that I can’t sell myself, is it because I can’t/don’t-know-how-to do it or because i don’t know what to sell? Most creatives struggle with the business side of the craft because there is a lack of business knowledge in the creative industry. But when someone asks you to recommend a good restaurant or a good movie, you don’t need any business knowledge to sell the one that you think is the best. Are we creatives doomed from the beginning because we have made ourselves believe that we are not business people?

All of this made me arrive to the conclusion that most of the times we think that we are so bad at selling that we can’t even sell water in the desert, when in reality the only problem is that we don’t know how to do it, not that we can’t. Take my example of the restaurant recommendation. You like that restaurant that you went to so much that you would speak about it and recommend it even if no one has asked you for your recommendation. And some of the people that you talk to about said restaurant will buy into your pitch and actually go to the restaurant themselves. You’ve sold it! So why not sell yourself the same way?

I think that the issue here is that when we speak about another brand’s benefits we do it in the third person, but when we speak about ours, we do it in the first. It then becomes personal, and by trying to protect our ego from rejection we convince ourselves that we are bad at sales so that we don’t have to be in a uncomfortable position. If the other person doesn’t like my restaurant recommendation I don’t feel hurt, but if they don’t like my pitch on my brand I feel like a failure.

The solution to the “I can’t sell myself or I don’t know how to do it” dilemma might not be an easy one to find, but there are a few things that I think we can start doing to make it easier on ourselves when we have to pitch our brand to someone else:

1. Know your brand to the last detail. The more you know about your offer, your rates, your skills, your strengths and your weaknesses, the easier it will be to talk about what you do.

2. Believe in yourself. I talked about this in this post and I can’t stress it enough. Everyone else’s opinion of our products or services is subjective. Whether others like them or not doesn’t mean that they are good or bad. It just means that they are not the product or service for them. If you believe in what you do go out there and talk about it. The more you sell yourself the more odds you will have of finding those who like what you offer.

3. Ask for clients recommendations and see what they say about you. This might give you ideas of the things that you need to start telling about yourself.

4. Try to speak of your brand on the third person as an exercise and see what selling points you come up with.

I will put these four points in practice and will write about my experience in a future post. In the meantime, do you have any tips that you can share with us on selling ones selves?

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