April 9, 2020
It’s okay, YOU CAN ADMIT IT:
You sort of hated me from all of my emails yesterday.
It’s okay! I know you did!
But then there was this other side of you that was kind of like…weirdly fascinated. Like, damn, Ash is over here takin’ everybody to school—literally—and during a pandemic, at that! A pandemic! WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?
You’re familiar with that last line, right? It’s the same one so many of us are afraid other people are thinking about us when we dare sell something—even during normal times. And it’s why so many of us shriiiinkkkk up into a teeeennsy, tiny wilted baby blossoms—again, even during normal times.
So now imagine the deer-in-headlights happening “during strange and unusual times like these.”
(I totally keep hearing the theme song from “Stranger Things” every time someone says that.)
And all of that is why I thought it might be helpful to throw down some guidance on the two most important ingredients you need to sell anything, no matter when it is, EVEN during “strange and unusual times like these.” And perhaps especially during strange and unusual times like these.
You know what the first one is? THE most important ingredient for any selling you ever do—whether it’s now, whether it’s later, whether it’s via email, on a sales page, over the phone, in person, or the next time you bump into a dude who looks exactly like your Uncle Harry in the pub?
The most important thing you can do is—drum roll—
Be a crazed fan of your own work.
Because, real question! Are you a fan of your own work? Or are you skeptical of it all the time? THAT. COMES. OUT. What you believe about your work comes out.
So be FEVERISH! Be passionate! Be eager! Be fervent.
Don’t sound like you’d rather be eating a pile of sewing needles! That’s how most people sound when they go to sell something: like they would legitimately rather be anywhere else in the whole world than there with that person, offering to help them.
Cue: half the “no’s” you’ve ever gotten.
Most of the time, it’s not a function of a lack of passion for your work: it’s a fear of selling, and it’s leakin’ out of your pores like Frank’s Hot Sauce. But then that fear messes with your whole demeanor. It makes you sound like a sedated wombat! (I actually need to Google what wombats look like, but they sound very sleepy.)
And then your message falls as flat as the stomach I will never have.
The most important thing you can do for your sales is to let yourself be a youthful, lively, fresh-faced representative of the work you do.
Enthusiasm is infectious. (Among other things, we’ve discovered—UGH.) When you’re legit enthusiastic about what you’re selling, it permeates the entire transaction. Other people feel it! But you’ve got to be willing to let your guard down and stop trying to put on the “holier-than-thou professional serious face.” Nobody wants to buy that. That exists only to shield your own ego. Drop it. Let yourself be innocently in love with your work and what you do, and yell it from the rooftops the way a child would who’s just gotten her very first bicycle.
HERE IT IS! IT’S TIME! LET’S DO IT!
Which brings me to an important footnote: if you don’t actually feel enthusiastic about what you’re selling, it’s worth asking yourself the difficult question of: do you really want to be doing the work that you are? It should NOT feel hard to be enthusiastic about your work if your heart’s in it; and if it does feel hard? That’s a sign that maybe you’re not the best person for the job. Besides, what client wants to hire someone who doesn’t really like what they do?
Ouch. But worth considering. Is the source of your hesitancy really that you’re scared, or is it that you’re indifferent?
If you’re indifferent, everything will be hard. Including the second most important thing you’ve got to do to sell effectively, and well, and beautifully, with panache.
And you know what the second most important thing is?
A simple deadline.
A very simple deadline, homie! A simple deadline, given to your clients and customers, by when you need their decision. That’s it. It’s one of the most basic (and easiest to implement) sales principles known to man, and yet most people ignore it entirely. And then they wonder, with their hands clasped under their butts, why that client isn’t saying anything about their proposal. And why they didn’t hear back. And why no one felt moved to act.
The way you move people to act is by moving them.
You need to say: “Here’s the action I want you to take, and here is when I need you to take it, Dear Darling!”
In other words, you need to guide the sales process. You can’t leave people to their own devices to figure it out. You need to tell them what happens next, and you need to put parameters around when it happens.
You need to focus their attention.
Otherwise, why wouldn’t they just continue bouncing around the internet, following random whims? We ALL need help focusing our attention. And you need to be that for your clients and your customers.
Use a deadline the way you use condoms: every. freaking. time.
If you want a little more help from me on the topic of selling yourself, right now and always, DEF hit up this podcast I was just interviewed on with Jen Lehner. She’s a freaking hoot, and we talked all about selling during pandemics, the importance of making one new offer every day, the weird narrative women have around money, how a client contract can make you feel WAY better about selling yourself, and most importantly?
We talk about Brad “I Loved You in Ocean’s Eleven” Pitt.
And why Brad Pitt will ALWAYS help you feel less self-conscious when it comes to promoting your work.
(If you read my new book, you know I included him as a critical lesson on selling, hahahah. I’m so proud of the fact I snuck Brad Pitt into my book.)
Jen also made me read an excerpt from that very book live during her podcast, so it’s a good time! Definitely give a listen if you need a boost of courage, smarts and style when it comes to selling yourself. ❤️
In the meantime, I’ll be over here trying to figure out WHAT! ELSE! WE! CAN! COOK! THAT! WE! HAVEN’T! ALREADY! MADE! A THOUSAND! TIMES! ALREADY! (Last night I was so knackered I just threw mozzarella inside a pretzel roll and melted it. Perhaps some vegetables are in order?! Quinoa?! Eggplant parmesan?!)
This life we're living, I tell you.
XO + inappropriate amounts of afternoon gin,
P.S. I just realized I have a book. Holy shit!