Woman in t-shirt sitting beside woman in suit jacket

How to Sell Yourself Outside of the Elevator Pitch

I hate elevator pitches.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the why behind an elevator pitch. Everyone should be able to succinctly convey who they are and what they do in the brief span of an elevator ride, but it’s likely my dislike stems from the way most pitches I’ve heard sound so stiff, formal, and generally canned.

Are you selling yourself in the most compelling way possible?

When Should You Sell Yourself?

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling your services, your products, or someone else’s services and products. If someone doesn’t like you, they won’t buy what you’re peddling.

Look up “selling yourself” on any search engine. Chances are good you’ll find a wealth of advice on selling yourself on interviews, and the link is understandable. Nothing puts things in perspective like deciding whether someone likes you enough to give you a job, but interviews are not the only situations where selling yourself is important. If you missed it, I’ve previously given you the best interview advice ever.

Other examples include:

  • Impressing romantic partners
  • Making friends
  • Closing a business deal
  • Negotiating a better price
  • Winning over someone on your idea

It’s important to remember the selling does not stop after the initial point of contact. First impressions are essential, but maintaining a good rapport is equally critical.

It’s likely people do not spend enough time thinking about how they’re selling themselves, because the idea sounds a little too entrepreneurial. Why would we want to keep putting our best foot forward for people we’ve already befriended?

Life is one demand after another. If it’s not the kid, it’s the spouse. If it’s not the spouse, it’s the job. If it’s not the job, it’s the school assignment, and well, you get the idea. It gets harder to make friends the older we get, in part, because we gravitate to people who make us feel good. We don’t want to work hard to get to know someone, because frankly, sometimes we don’t have time to put in the effort. And you know? Potential employers are not going to be all that different.

If you think of how you’re selling yourself in everyday situations, it’s going to be easier to engage this mindset in a professional scenario.

A Case Study

Let’s take a look at a case study. This is not an example of someone selling themselves. It’s an example of a company promoting their product, but take a look at how they’re creatively setting themselves apart from the competition.

This is an example of engaging marketing from the folks over at Saddleback Leather. If you’re not familiar with the company, they are well-known for selling rugged briefcases, satchels, wallets, etc. with a 100-year warranty. They are so convinced of their bags’ durability that they feel your grandchildren will be fighting over your bag long after you’re dead.

On their FAQ page you can read the following:

How can I convince my honey that I need this?

So you want it. Now comes the hard part of convincing your honey that you need it. Maybe if you throw some of these phrases into the conversation, it’ll help.

Her to Him

  • You know, I feel frisky just thinking about that leather piece.
  • I would just feel so sexy carrying this on my body.
  • I don’t think I’d need to go shopping for another thing all year after buying something like this.

Him to Her

  • Looking at this case just makes me want to HOLD you.
  • I don’t know why, but owning a hope and a dream like this, makes me want to just sit down on the couch and OPEN UP about the hopes and dreams we share.
  • Think of all of the extra TIME we’d spend TOGETHER on our long walks holding hands and showing off the leather.

Me to Both of You

  • You’ll be more popular.
  • You’ll have more friends.
  • What’s wrong, you chicken?
  • I might invite you to my birthday party.
  • If you don’t buy this case, then next year, when you’re scouring the internet again looking for your next garage sale piece because yours is already torn or broken, your mind will drift back to my words. You’ll slowly shake your head and say, “Man, was that guy right or what”. And then you’ll slightly squint, press your lips together and give a few small nods. I tell you what, buy it now or kick yourself later.

I think this is killer copy. It blends well with a marketing strategy that is anything but conventional. If they ever change up their FAQ, I’m glad to preserve that little excerpt here.

No, I have not been paid to post this. I dare say their material is as elegantly rugged as one could want, but I chose to go a different route when I purchased my last briefcase.

Granted, there are people on various forums who find Dave, the president, a bit eccentric, maybe a tad arrogant? But, the language jumps out and inspires a reaction. I say his approach is working.

I spent a while looking at briefcase replacements. I assure you, no other seller is putting out their story in quite the same way as these guys.

As entrepreneurs, perhaps it’s time to look at the language we’re using to describe ourselves and what we offer.

How to Sell Yourself Effectively

Why you?

That’s really at the root of this discussion. You can’t always get away with a one size fit all script.

Even if you did not find the copy as engaging as I did, I think we can agree the language is fun. It’s playful and a little daring.

How relaxed are you when selling yourself?

How easygoing would you describe your demeanor?

Are you making it easy for people to want to learn more about you?

Sometimes we work so hard at creating a certain image of ourselves. We forget it takes more energy to uphold that image than it would take to communicate our authentic selves.

I am not suggesting you be vivacious if vivacious is not your default. Have you ever met a cranky old person who nonetheless attracts people because they are so down to Earth?

Though this particular tip might work in social settings, it is useful to remember in professional situations that you do not always have to sell your accomplishments. First, pick your best, most relevant, accomplishments if you are going to highlight them, but second, as noted in this study, sometimes people will be just as impressed by your potential as your achievements.

Of course, you should never sell dreams you cannot fulfill. In other words, don’t exaggerate! Help people see that investing in you could lead to untapped greatness.

And make sure they know how your greatness could benefit them! Because, let’s face it, people care most about themselves. If you take time to learn their needs, and if you take the time to craft a plan to help meet their needs, you’re going to be in a great position to separate yourself from the competition.

Last, and most important, establish some firm action items. If you sell yourself well, fully engage the other person, and feel confident the exchange was superb, it won’t matter if you don’t close the deal.

Ranking somewhere near the top of my pet peeves is the expression: Alright, let me know if you need anything…

I’m working very hard to work it out of my own set of standard responses. The expression is vague, lukewarm, and speaks keenly of a desire for the other person not to reach out if they actually need something.

Whether it’s personal or professional, do not leave the exchange without taking down contact information, setting a meeting, or summarizing what each of you will do to take the exchange to the next step.

Final Thoughts

Rather than memorize a dry speech about what you do, think of those strengths that would make you a perfect match for someone. I’m thinking of professional arrangements, but if you tap your authentic self and communicate those great values in natural conversations, I think your ability to persuade people is going to increase exponentially no matter the setting.

And hey, you really should give those leather products a look. I first came across their website in 2014. Almost seven years later, I still find their approach memorable. Imagine what would happen if you found the right words to make, you, memorable?

What’s the slickest line you’ve ever used to impress someone? Sound off in the comments!

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My blog is a collection of advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was young and targets subjects like personal finance, careers, and relationships. It publishes Mondays with the occasional bonus article. Sign up to have fresh content delivered straight to your inbox, no SPAM!


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