By Stephanie Majeran | Owner, WellRun Results LLC

Since the day I was old enough to get a job, I avoided anything related to product sales. I worked as a babysitter, a grocery bagger/cashier, a bank teller, a teacher's assistant, an accountant, a higher education professional, and currently, a consultant. Early in my working life, it felt as if selling meant being aggressive. For this reason, the thought of selling anything always made me feel uncomfortable because I hate imposing on, or worse, coercing someone. 

Until now, my positions were not dependent on my ability to sell products or services. Venturing into the world of consulting to sell services related to my knowledge and expertise has been scary for me. It is actually one of the biggest reasons that I put off starting my business for three years.  

So how do you find the confidence to talk about yourself enough to convince others that you're an expert? The answer is stop trying to convince them.

After reading "The Go-Giver and Go-Givers Sell More" by Bob Burg and John David Mann, my perception of selling completely changed. Their main point throughout both books is the focus should be on creating value for others. You don't need to convince everyone that you (or your products) are the best thing since sliced bread. If you actually stop and listen to the needs of others and just be your authentic self, your attention shifts to building a relationship.  

The best way to say what do you do is to "explain what you have to offer in such a way that the other person immediately grasps the benefits of what your product or service will do for them (or for others they know)."

I have seen this idea embodied countless times with the women in FemCity Des Moines. I have never had an uncomfortable conversation where someone has tried to sell me something; instead, I took part in genuine conversations connecting with other women who want to make a living and a difference.  

I recently helped with a survey for FemCity Des Moines members and the resounding theme from the results was that women came to the group looking for and then finding one thing -- connection. Of course, many also mentioned looking for referrals and clients, but for the most part, the responses focused on finding a group they could connect with.

Even before I read the Go-Giver books, I started shifting away from worrying about closing deals and focusing instead on simply meeting lots of interesting people. Not everyone needs my services, nor am I the right fit for everyone, and that's OK! I love meeting people, and it is what I have missed the most in previous positions.  

My biggest takeaway from "The Go-Giver" books is to focus on listening more than talking. I like to talk and explain things in detail and sometimes I can get carried away. While I know my listening skills could use some fine-tuning, it recently dawned on me that my over-talking has much to do with confidence. By focusing on other people, you can stop worrying about confidence!

No matter what you do for a living, selling is actually a part of everyone's life (check out Daniel Pink's book "To Sell is Human"). You may not sell a product or services in your job, but I bet you have to persuade clients, co-workers, a spouse or children. From "The Go-Giver" perspective, the best way to persuade someone is to not persuade them. If you start arguing or explaining your point, you have already lost the other person to defensiveness. Instead, listen to their objections and look at it from their point of view. Once you understand their perspective, you can find ways to add value to their life, which may not have anything to do with what you are selling. 

As I said, I'm a talker, so I want to conclude with some brief takeaway points that I hope will provide value:

  1. Ask thought-provoking questions. Instead of "What do you do?" ask "What do you enjoy most about what you do?"

  2. Listen. Make a point to focus on the other person, not on the next thing you want to say.

  3. Be thoughtful. Send that thank you note or helpful article. Simple gestures can make a huge impact to show you care.

Stephanie Majeran is the owner of WellRun Results LLC, where she empowers small businesses and nonprofits to have confidence in and understand their finances, taxes and data. She has a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Pittsburgh and a master of leadership development with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and small business from Drake University. She is also a group exercise instructor, runner, Excel geek, dentist's wife, and mother to an adorably active toddler and tiny furry running buddy. She has a passion for helping people reach their full potential.