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31 Aug 12

Please Sell Yourself

Cover with 'For Sale' painted on itThe woman on stage had done a brilliant job of showcasing her work. We, her audience, had thoroughly enjoyed watching her end-of-course participants show off their newly-learnt skills and I overheard snippets of conversations in the break that told me several audience members were keen to find out more about her next course and potentially sign up.

We waited expectantly to hear how we could get involved. But instead, she closed the night’s event with this:

“I’m not going to do a sales pitch. If you’re interested, call me.”


I felt let down. I imagined the others around me, engaged and eager, feeling let down too. We were waiting for the sales pitch. We were expecting the sales pitch. We wanted the sales pitch!

Because a sales pitch is not for you. It’s for us.

When you’re self-employed and you hold back on the details of your offer and how we can engage further, you make it hard for us. You make us do too much work.

How were we going to call this brilliant person? There were no business cards scattered around that would help us, and what would we say if we did find her number?

It would have been so much easier if there had been a little “expression of interest” flyer to fill out, or a list where we could leave our name and email address so she could get back to us to set up a conversation.

It would have given our engagement and interest somewhere to go. It would have made it easy for us to potentially benefit from what she was offering.

Want to know a (not very secret) secret?

I sometimes find the sales pitch hard. I wrote about this back here: Are You Apologising For Selling? Despite planning to take the due time to spell out next steps of engagement, when it comes to a live event, I can still find myself hurrying the “what’s next?” section.

My ego jumps in front of me. It blocks my best intentions because of fear of looking “salesy”. It protects its treasured self-image: that I’m someone who gives generously without thinking of self.

I’m guessing you can identify with this. When we’re self-employed and it’s easier to pay our bills when we have clients, we can mistakenly assume it must be self-interested to lead people towards becoming paying clients.

But the irony is that it’s actually selfish to hold back on a clear sales pitch. People who left my most recent talk without a copy of my book (because I didn’t do it justice sales-wise) missed out on an affordable tool that would have helped them immensely. That’s me letting them down.

It’s generous to sell

When you do work that helps people, then good selling helps people. This realisation is the way out of sales paralysis. When you see a strong sales pitch as a strong act of generosity, you can let the sale happen through you so that more people can benefit from what you’re offering. You can make your potential customers and clients more important than your ego’s (misguided) fears of looking self-interested.

I’m giving several talks over the next few months and I plan to sell boldly and generously. To scare my ego away so I can help more people get closer to the support they want and need.

I challenge you to do the same. Leave a comment below, letting us know where, when and how you will unapologetically sell your generous offerings. (Massage, yoga, raw food coaching, nutrition, e-books, improv comedy, design – what are you selling? And how will you ensure people are really clear how to take the next step?)

© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2012

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  1. Connie Allen

    Corrine, thanks for this brilliant story and insight. I never looked at it quite this way before…my potential clients walking away let down that I didn’t offer and invite them to play with me.

    1. Corrina

      Hi Connie – your website home page jumps out with joy! Delighted you’ll be inviting more of your right clients to play with you 😉

  2. Susanna Maida

    I love this article, Corrina! I totally agree that a sales pitch is not for us as the entrepreneur but for the people we serve.

    I recently wrote an article for my own newsletter on a very similar experience I recently had with my first ever facial. As the lovely experience unfolded, I talked with the esthetician and got increasingly excited with the idea that she could help me address my dry and aging skin. I was looking forward to hearing what she could offer me next when the facial was over and was ready to invest in something more.

    What she offered me was nothing! All she did was give me her card and warmly invite me to call her if I wanted anything further. And the next moment I was out the door and on my way to my car. Beyond making it hard for me to engage with her further, I actually emerged from the experience feeling confused and even a bit abandoned. It was such a let-down! I never called her or went back. Ouch indeed!

    Thanks for the reminder to make helping our tribe more important than catering to the needs of our own egos. And thanks for the invitation to unapologetically sell our services. I’ll post again with my offer!

    1. Corrina

      Susanna – That’s such a beautiful illustration, thank you for sharing. I wonder if we can all bring to mind an example of where we have wanted a stronger sales pitch for OUR benefit (as prospective, in-need customer) and then remember this when we’re on the other side of the fence. It’s certainly our duty to help those prospective clients get the help they want and need.

  3. Susanna Maida

    As for your challenge to unapologetically sell our generous offerings, here’s what I’d like to offer. Last week I taught a free training call: “3 Secrets for Keeping Your Best Clients from Slipping through Your Fingers with the Art of Sacred Selling”. Well over 400 people signed up for the call and many emailed me to say how inspiring and full of immediately useful value it was.

    Next week is the first session of my 6-week intensive called “From ‘Sleazy’ Sales to Sacred Selling”. For conscious, heart-centered entrepreneurs who dread selling their services, this in-depth program will teach you how to how to have high-integrity, deeply heartfelt, be-of-service selling conversations that dramatically increases the number of people saying “yes” to working with you.

    If either the free training or the paid program call to you, go to and download the free recording and check-out the upcoming training program. It starts next Tuesday and there’s a truly lovely group of entrepreneurs forming who are eager to fall in love with selling as service. In fact, Corinna’s post made it’s way into the program’s Facebook group this morning!

    1. Corrina

      Thanks for sharing this post with your Facebook group!

  4. Bridget Wynne

    Great post! We’re surrounded by selling meant to scare us or convince us how unacceptable we are, so we need to buy more expensive clothes, a fancier car, a better brand of liquor … I find this manipulative and offensive and irritating, especially during this election season (in the USA) when enormously wealthy people band together to bombard us with lies, trying to buy our votes. It can be hard to remember the distinction between this and selling that is meant to meet people’s real needs, and comes from a place of service. In my desire not to have any part of the sick kind of selling, your post helps me see that I’m focusing on my needs, and not those of my potential clients. Thank you!

    Here’s my selling pledge. I coach and teach people who want to explore Jewish identity and life in ways that work for them. In a couple weeks I will lead High Holiday/Jewish New Year Services for hundreds of people. I pledge to put together a verbal pitch, and written materials, that will let them know what I have to offer beyond these holiday gatherings, and how they can connect with these offerings. And I pledge to do so not from a place of embarrassment and fear of being part of the manipulative kind of selling, but instead from a place of service. Great intention for the new year!

    1. Corrina

      Great intention indeed, Bridget – and I celebrate your bravery and generosity in doing this.

      For others reading this who would like to explore their Jewish identity and community but haven’t yet found satisfying ways to do this, please do offer yourself to Bridget for her research project: “Jewish: Your Way”. You can contact her by clicking her name above which will take you to her website and via the Get Connected button there, you’ll find her email address.

      1. Bridget Wynne

        Thanks, Corrina! To make the offer you just described even more clear, if you would like to explore Jewish identity and community but haven’t found satisfying ways to do so, I’d love to do a 30-minute phone interview with you about this. It will be confidential, and as a thank you gift you will receive 30 minutes of complimentary coaching on whatever aspects of this issue you’d like. Contact me as Corrina described, or at, and I’ll be in touch!

  5. Joey Clifton

    I love how simply turning the focal point around really makes a difference in this context. You’re so brilliant at this perspective shift. It’s not about us (the business person) it’s about you (the client). It’s so easy to forget and so powerful to remember. Thank you for helping us… X

    1. Corrina

      My pleasure, lovely Joey. What are you selling? (i.e. making available in service of others)

  6. Michelle Robindell

    I support parents in their return to work after an extended period of absence (such as maternity leave). I help them address both their professional and personal concerns related to this major transition. As one of my clients recently said, I’m both empathic and pragmatic in my coaching, so in addition to providing cognitive/emotional support, I hold my clients accountable for taking real, concrete steps towards living the lives they envision.

    1. Michelle Robindell

      Oops, I forgot to mention what I’m selling! Even after your very clear, very inviting instructions… LOL!

      Starting on the first day of Autumn, September 22, I will be offering 25% of my coaching services. See “Work with Me” on my website to learn what’s included, and what my current prices are.

      1. Corrina

        Thanks for letting us know more about you and who you’re here to serve, Michelle 🙂

  7. Katherine Ferris

    Loved reading this post and all the great comments! My niche is hypnotherapy for emotional health and wellbeing. Majority of my focus is on pregnant couples, helping them prepare for a calm and fear-free childbirth. Word of mouth has been a steady way to get new clients. Your post reminded me that my goal has been to become more active in selling myself and my services to help more clients reach their goals, be it to help them quit smoking or to give birth calmly.

    1. Corrina Gordon-Barnes

      What a wonderful focus, Katherine. We definitely need you to sell yourself 🙂

  8. Chloe O'Sullivan

    Thank you Corrina for not only another great blog but for giving us space to unashamedly sell ourselves!

    I help people to resolve and avoid conflict in their relationships at home and at work using our award-winning War to Peace methodology. As a result of our one-day workshop, you will be more efective with the people you find most difficult.

    I am running just one more public workshop in London this year, next Friday 19 October, and would like like to make a very special offer to the Inspired Community. I understand the financial stretch that many of us who are running our own businesses feel when investing in our own personal development and I wouldn’t want anyone to be excluded for financial reasons. The usual price per person for attending War to Peace is £450+VAT per person, but for the Inspired Community, I am very happy to charge you just £99 + VAT. For more information and to book, please click here, using the password ‘inspired’

    With our wise investment guarantee, you have nothing to lose, as we will willingly refund you if you are not satisfied at the end of the day.

    Here’s what some of our 2012 participants are saying:

    “Absolutely superb means of examining challenging relationships in a supportive environment and realising how much I can do to improve the situation” Melissa Mehta, Oxford, UK September 2012

    I am leaving with valuable tools and knowledge and have learnt how to put them into practice in a clear and memorable way. My thinking has been challenged.” Amanda Axbey, Oxford, UK September 2012

    “A natural sceptic, the course put me at ease to engage in the material. It was fun whilst also being considered and challenging.” Christopher Woolley, Bexley, UK September 2012

    “I have attended every possible training course you can imagine in the past 50 years. What you showed me today is the most helpful thing I have ever experienced in dealing with conflict”. John Cooke, Illinois, January 2012

    I really hope you can join me next Friday on this fun and engaging course that some have called ‘life changing’.

    All my best,


    1. Corrina Gordon-Barnes

      Thanks beautiful Chloe! Love your use of testimonials; they do a great job as “supporting actors” when it comes to selling ourselves.

  9. Lorna Thayn

    I thought I’d check back in one more time and address some of the questions people have posed.

  10. Jim

    As someone who used to be in big-ticket, long-cycle, multiple-call system sales, I came to realize that buyers really enjoy the *romance* of the sales process. Regardless of the length of your own process, you’d be foolish to deny them this!


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