Start by Selling Yourself

Well once again I find myself apologising for the time taken to write this post – At least I’m now settled in my new pad and have a computer at home so no excuses anymore ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re starting a business then I’m sure that like me, you’ll probably be selling something – either a product or a service. The majority of start-up owners have to be sales people (whether they like it or not) purely because they are often the only people in the business.

Now let’s put aside this theory that you are selling a product or a service – you’re not, you’re selling yourself!!! *Queue dramatic music*

‘People buy People’ – It maybe an over-used saying but it’s very true. So my advice is this, think about who you are and how you present yourself both physically and through your personality. You may need to do some soul searching for this. Consider how people perceive you, maybe even ask for feedback from clients and be ready to take the constructive criticism. If you’re willing to invest in this process selling will become easier.

There are many types of sales people – from those who are in more direct hard sales, to the other end of the scale who are slightly more fluffy – Some organisations may class these as ‘Hunters and Farmers’. A hunter typically drives for sale after sale, moving on after each one while a farmer, ‘farms’ their relationship with people for long term gain. My own personality is quite fluffy and I’m definitely a farmer (I even have a flat cap now but that’s another story!) but I do try where possible to match my personality to whomever I’m speaking to.

So, if people buy people then what does this mean to you? What can you do to give yourself a better chance of making a sale and more importantly getting repeat business? Here are Banksy’s top 5 tips:

1). Emanate positivity- Lets be honest things are not always great in business. There will be days when you feel like you should of just stayed in bed. When starting up, its even harder because you have all the pressures of money as well; ‘where will the next lot of money come from to pay that bill’ etc… Unless you get really lucky, this is something we all go through. My point here, is that HOWEVER you feel, you need to emanate positivity when out and about, talking to someone on the phone, networking and at meetings etc…basically anywhere you’re interacting with people not directly involved in your business. If you turn up to a networking meeting and I come to speak to you and the you start telling me that business is slow and you’re not very happy and blah blah blah, two things are going to happen – 1). You’re going to depress me and probably everyone else you talk to that day and 2). This is highly unlikely to make me want to give you my business. If you take one thing from this post please let it be this: BE POSITIVE in public. There is one guy, who I see around Exeter regularly and every time I ask him how he is, his standard response (and its been the same for about 8 years now) is “Fantastic” – said with a huge smile. I’m certain that in those 8 years there must have been a few times when it wasn’t fantastic but he certainly knows the benefits of acting positively in public. On the same note there are people who moan about everything each time I see them out. These people don’t tend to stay in business very long or certainly don’t do very well from it.

2). Dress like the person you’re meeting/doing business with. This sounds strange and possibly a bit obvious but you’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes. If you’re meeting with an Accountant/Solicitor then make sure you’re wearing a suit and look smart and clean. If you’re meeting a plumber then a suit is probably a little OTT, maybe smart jeans and shirt are more sensible. Clearly if your business means you must wear certain threads (like a uniform) then this may not be applicable.

3). Mimic Body Language – One of the most interesting things I’ve learnt in my time in business is the importance of body language in sales. If you mimic the person you’re talking too (and I don’t mean repeat what they say or anything silly) then you’ll be surprised how much easier a meeting will run. I’m not a body language expert but I can tell you this puts people at ease and will help the sales process. I quite often find myself mirroring the person I’m talking to at business meetings instinctively, especially ifย  I’m getting on well with them.

4). Consider your audience – This goes for all types of sales but when selling yourself, you need to consider the person you’re selling to and adapt your persona to theirs. This might mean trying to pick up on elements of their personality, language or dress as mentioned above. To give you a really obvious example, would you act the same around a workman on a building site as you would with a solicitor or accountant? I consider it a real skill to morph yourself so that whomever approaches you, you can very quickly determine what type of person you’re dealing with and then change various aspects of yourself to suit them.

5). Build a relationship (will deal with more in future posts). A relationship will yield far better results in the long run. People will warm to you more if you spend time getting to know them and their business before telling them what you can do for them. I mentioned this in my networking post as well as I truly believe it to differentiate good sales people from poor ones. Concentrate on building relationships with everyone you know and mark my words (oh dear I sound like an old teacher), it will help you sell yourself.

I really hope this has been helpful – much of it is common sense but if you’re new to business then next time you’re due to go out to a networking event or meeting, just skim over this post first and try and implement some of it and see what results you get – I’d be keen to hear your feedback ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. Ruairi Fullam on 2nd July 2009 at 11:49 am

    Haha, we’re quite similar Banksy! Great to be reminded of these essential principles. Coupled in with the sage advice of “How to win friends and influence people”, it’s great for businesses to be aware of this.

    I remember going to a now defunct bar on Fore Street, and the owner told me how awful trade was, and had a real air of stress about him and it put myself and the people I was with right off! It was amazing the effect it had. By all means, it’s good to be upbeat and positive as much as possible.

    • Banksy on 3rd July 2009 at 9:53 am

      I know its unbelievable isn’t it! The number of networking events I attend where people are downbeat amazes me. If you feel that bad on a certain day then don’t go ๐Ÿ™‚

      Funny you should mention ‘How to Win Friends…’ – Its going to be the subject of a future post…

  2. Scott Gould on 8th July 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Banksy, really great stuff.

    I’m especially keen on 2) and 3). I think you need to strongly consider how you will dress and behave in meetings before hand.

    I use dress and also the way I mirror people to help when I know that my age might be an issue to the audience. Sometimes a suit gives authority, but sometimes jeans and longsleeved top portrays a creative confidence.

    I look forward to move advice in the next post so I can get better!

    • Banksy on 9th July 2009 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Scott, you make a very valid point about age. When I started Optix I was only just 20 and as you know, i look young now so imagine what I was like then! I think we’re lucky that our industries are often seen as youthfull! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Susie Golics on 3rd November 2009 at 12:00 am


    I have just found your blog and as a recent Exeter graduate looking to set up her own business I can see so many similarities between what we are both into (look out for an email from me soon!)

    I was wondering is you had studied NLP? Mirroring otherโ€™s body language and voice tonality is a taught tool to gain rapport with others. There is also a technique called pacing a leading- matching the other persons body language and voice tonality until you create rapport, and then slowly changing your body language and voice, which SHOULD if you have created enough rapport, mean the client copies too….. a great way to change a clients’ state such as passive to excited! x x x

    • Banksy on 3rd November 2009 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Susie,

      Love the NLP bit. I’m aware of it but certainly never been taught it. Everything I know is picked up in the last 10 years in business. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Great news on starting up – I look forward to seeing your email and hopefully helping a fellow grad.


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