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How to Sell Yourself Better

Are you employed in direct sales? If so keep reading. Are you not directly involved in sales? If so, definitely keep reading.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a college student, unemployed and looking for a job, a mom (or mum) about to re-enter the workforce or a top executive in that coveted corner office of a multi-national company, each of us is in the business of selling ourselves each and every day.

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink summed it up in his book To Sell Is Human, when he wrote, “at every opportunity you have to move someone – from traditional sales, like convincing a prospect to buy a new computer system, to non-sales selling, like persuading your daughter to do her homework.”

Understanding that fundamentally shifts the way you look at yourself and your interactions with others.

For more on the topic, I turned to veteran salesperson David Tumulty to share the secrets he’s learned after nearly three decades of success in the business.  From car insurance to call centers to IT solutions, David’s sold it all.  He’s currently a recruitment consultant in the construction and civil engineering sector for Duttons Recruitment based in the UK and serving across Europe. See if you can apply even one of his tips to help you better move yourself and others.

  1. Focus on communications

“Communications is the key to sales,” David told me by phone this past week from his home in Cardiff. “Verbal and non-verbal.  Communication is the difference between selling or not selling. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

I firmly agree with that statement as a fundamental principle. But what are some thee more specific traits or strategies you can apply to effectively communicate?

  1. Focus on the pause

In the area of communications, listening skills are huge. But we’re not talking about active listening here, instead we’re talking about actively taking a moment to let a silence settle in between you and the other person. David explains it this way, “Someone told me many years ago, that a pause of more than four seconds makes people feel very uncomfortable.  They will want to break the silence and say something and what they say next can be very telling for the sale.”

To use Daniel Pink’s example, imagine you’re negotiating with your daughter about homework (something I’m a bit familiar with with Lulu, my 12-year-old). If you ask her to suggest a time that she’ll begin her homework or ask her to suggest how long she’ll work on her book report for the evening and then jump in with your own ideas before she has a chance to make her offer, how successful will you be?  Likewise, if you’re preparing to discuss a price or a solution, ask the question of the other person first, then wait.

David suggests that during this time of silence or pause, the person who is first to break the silence is likely the one who will lose control of the negotiation. “You should be doing about 30 percent of the chatting and the other person should be doing about 70,” David recommends. “As the old adage says, ‘We have two ears, but only one mouth.’”

  1. Focus on Mirroring

Daniel Pink’s book refers to a Dutch study that found servers who mimicked their customers’ styles and behaviours earned more tips than those who did not.  If a group of diners are dressed in suits or smart dresses and behaving formally, then the waiter should interact in a similar business-like manner. If, on the other hand, the waiter meets a buoyant group on a family reunion, a more laid-back and familiar approach will likely work better.

David agrees. “When you’re meeting someone face to face, mirror their body language.  If they put their hand lightly on your shoulder, you can do that too.” Same thing with speaking style.  “I speak to a lot of builders,” he goes on. “If one of them says, ‘Dave, Mate….’ and proceeds to talk about football, I will probably also call him ‘Mate’ at the end of the call. But if he calls me Mr Tumulty, I will call him ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’ throughout.”

  1. Focus on the objection

Imagine what objection your daughter may raise when you bring up the dreaded subject of homework. Now imagine what your boss may say when you bring the notion of a pay rise. Or, as David explained to me, imagine the objection a decision-maker may have if you’re making an cold call.  “The number one thing they’ll say is that they don’t have enough time, so I do the salutation and move right in with, ‘I know you’re really busy and so am I. That’s why I’ll make this really quick.’ It’s really powerful because you already have identified and acknowledged their objection first.”

By focusing on the pictures in the other person’s head first: their reluctance toward silence, their mood and mannerisms, their possible objections, you will accelerate the speed with which you can close the sale, get the job or, perhaps best of all, complete the homework.


You won’t have anything to whine about, but you might discover something to happily wine about as I interview Justine McGovern, the Dublin-based director of the California Wine Institute UK.



Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie

Gina London

Gina London

An Emmy-winning former CNN correspondent and anchor with premier clients in five continents, she guides the top companies and executives in the world to more positively connect and engage with their employees, their board and themselves.

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Meet Gina!

An Emmy-winning former CNN correspondent and anchor with premier clients in five continents, she guides the top companies and executives in the world to more positively connect and engage with their employees, their board and themselves.

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