I know people who are great at what they do. Absolute experts. If I ever have a situation or question or idea that falls into their area, they are the first person I think of and the first person I’ll reach out to to find out more or do something with me.
A few of these people, however, suck at selling themselves and their skills.
By “suck,” I mean, couldn’t-sell-water-in-the-desert suck at selling themselves and their expertise. You probably know someone like this. It may be you.
It’s not that they aren’t actually good at it and worth the money — I already made clear that they are and I would pay them for their skill — it’s that they just are not good at selling. Mostly, it’s due to one of two reasons:
- They are too self-conscious and afraid of putting themselves “out there” and being judged
- They are so deeply engrossed at doing what it is they’re great at, they never learn how to use those skills to drive more eyes to themselves.
I once heard Donald Trump say that he knew people who were better singers and performers than Frank Sinatra, but they were failures in life. Because those talented people did not possess the ability to sell themselves. Then he fired the person he told that story to.
Those who are great at something but cannot sell themselves are actually having their skills sold — sold by someone who can sell, at a discounted price, for that person’s partial (or huge) benefit. This is manifested in really talented people who get hired for jobs when they could easily strike out on their own. They sell their ability to the job, and the job in turn sells that ability, earning a percentage of the profits just because they have some form of sales mechanism that the talented individual does not have or, more accurately, doesn’t use.
On the flip side, You probably know someone, or several someones, whose acclaim, notoriety and overall success in their field far exceeds their actual talent. These are your great salespeople. Paul Arden said in one of my favorite books, if people will agree that the horse can jump a ditch, sell the idea that the horse can jump the Grand Canyon. You can only see how far you can go by venturing to go too far. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone says “no.” A lot of people are terrified of that “No”. These are the one who constantly sell themselves short.
Being good at something and being able to sell that goodness are not the same thing. In fact, many people who are very good at selling some ability are not even that great at it. There are a lot of much more talented people who don’t command the same level of attention and have not reached the same level of success.
We humans are all selling, all the time, every day. Some of us just suck at it. If you plan on making a living or a name off of your abilities, you had better learn how to sell. The skills you need to do the selling? They’re already there. Just remove the cobwebs of self-consciousness and doubt and hesitation and those skills are right there, waiting to spring into action. And if you still can’t get over the hump? You will, when you have to. Just keep waiting. Or, you can die never knowing what could have been. There are plenty of people who will gladly profit off of you for as long as you allow it. You can rationalize it as helping them but look at the situation: they are using you to help themselves. Someone sold you that idea.