Many people who want to build an online business are reluctant to sell. They seem hesitant, almost apologetic, when it comes to promoting their own products. Why is that?
I recently saw a Facebook promotion for a book that actually asked, “Anybody interested?” It’s almost like the author didn’t believe in his own message. Crazy as that might sound, it’s more common than you’d think.
When I was CEO of Thomas Nelson we had authors who didn’t want to promote their books. Some were just a little old school, but not all. One major pastor we worked with, an important thought leader, couldn’t bring himself to promote his books even though we were investing a lot of money in his projects.
Why is this so difficult? In the case of the pastor, it made him feel strange. He thought it of it as self-promotional, like he was greedy or grandstanding.
I think that’s true for a lot of people. But it totally misses the point, and it’s a sort of self-sabotage. We end up halfheartedly pushing our product, uneasy and possibly embarrassed to mention it at all—even if we’ve put months or years into developing it. What’s the point of releasing it at all?
We’ve got this all wrong. Here are three reasons we can feel free to sell with our whole heart, starting now:
- Leadership is service. Normally we hold back because we don’t want to be seen as driven by ego. But that just means we’re focusing too much on what others might think about us. Leadership is not about us. It’s about the people we’re trying to help.
To sell is to lead, and to lead is to serve. If we really understand that, we can market, promote, and close deals without any hesitation. Maybe it’s as simple as reconnecting with our value proposition and seeing how it can help others.
- People need what we’re selling. The second reason follows directly from the first, but it requires some faith. Do we believe in our product? It could be a book, a course, an app, a software solution, consulting, whatever. Do we stand by it? If so, we have an obligation to sell with our whole heart.
If people need what we’re offering, then being squeamish is underserving those people. Think about a book on marriage. Are couples helped by not promoting it? Think about a new WordPress plugin. Are developers better off if we sit on the code?
If we believe our product is beneficial, then we need to do our part to make sure it succeeds. People are waiting.
- If not us, then who? The third reason ties back to the second. People have needs, and they’re not going to wait forever for us to meet them. We may have exactly what they need, but if we’re late to the party, they’ll address their problem another way.
We’re not being selfless when we avoid promoting our product. We’re just undercutting our own mission and creating an opportunity for someone else to take our place.
Selling, when it is done well, is a noble pursuit. It requires that we take the initiative to find out what others need and then deliver a product that helps alleviate a need.
If our product doesn’t measure up, then we should improve it or do something else. But if we have something valuable to offer, then we should sell with confidence.
God didn’t equip us with unique talents, insights, drives, and ambitions for us to be ashamed of them. He meant us to use those to serve others in the marketplace. And people are waiting for what you have to offer.
Question: Do you ever struggle with feeling self-promotional in your business?