Selling services can be tough game. After all, you’re essentially selling an intangible. No one can touch what you’re selling. You can’t give people the keys to take it for a spin.

And – from personal experience – I know how tough it can be to be on the receiving end as well: as buyers of services, we have precious little to go on to make a buying decision. Yet, there is one factor that is of the utmost importance if you’re selling services. It has the power to convince buyers. Reassure them of the value of what you’re selling. Close deals in weeks, rather than months.

That factor ? It’s you.

Why ? Simple. Because, if you’re selling a service, you’re essentially what buyers have to go on in order to make a buying decision. You’re the sample. The test drive. The appetizer.

And if you’re wondering how to sell the most important things of all – yourself – wonder no more. Check out the following five elements, and become an invicible convincer (well, not quite, but you get my drift).

Get To Know Yourself A Little Better.

The first step is to get to know yourself. You see, most of us suffer from an inaccurate self-image – and, most likely, we’re a little too hard on ourselves.

Lifehacker has a useful process for how to change that – how to change your self perception to leverage your hidden strengths.

Be A Not-Know-It-All.

Before you can start convincing others, you’ll need them to start trusting you. Yes, I know, you have a triple PhD and are the world’s largest expert on Vietnamese baby carrots – so people are bound to listen when you speak, right ?

Not so.

My colleague and friend Charles Green puts it this way “Being right is vastly overrated. Earning the right to be right is where the action is and where most consultants fall down. An ounce of listening—paying attention, paraphrasing, conveying empathy, going where the client goes—is worth a pound of correct answers, references, and credentials.”

If you’re looking for ways to build trust with clients, colleagues, peers, buyers, advisors and basically anyone else you interact with on a regular basis, check out Charlie’s post on “Create Trust, Gain A Client.”

Practice, Practice, Practice.

Think about the late Steve Jobs – one of the world’s greatest speaker, charismatic CEO and technology evangelist. Steve obsessed about details, and spent (not hours, not days, but) weeks practicing and rehearsing every keynote he ever gave. The end result was a polished piece of perfection.

In order to be convincing in the boardroom, you need to do your practicing outside of the boardroom. Don’t practice at the game.

Speak In Soundbytes.

People have a limited attention span, and some senior executives have the equivalent of that of a small puppy. If you want to get through to them, you’ll need to keep things short, succinct and simple.

Practice speaking in soundbytes: easily digestible, quick-to-remember phrases that capture the essence of an idea and help your counterparts remember it. And here’s a secret tip: people are wired to think in threes, fives and sevens. Ever wonder why there are so many blogposts that start with “3 Ways To …” or “The 7 Habits Of …” ? If you want to be seen as an able, strong communicator, don’t ramble. Speak in soundbytes and easily digestible “rules of three”.

Use the PSR Approach.

Peter Cohan wrote a great post on on a “Winning Technique To Sell Yourself”. His premise is simple: use a three-step process (see, there’s that rule of threes again) to communicate your value.

First, start by identifying and defining the Problem. Describe the cause, its impact, the environment and how exactly it was “hurting”. Then, explain the Solution – what you did about it, how and why it worked, what you discovered along the way and what the outcome was. Finally, describe the Results you achieved. Talk about the quantitative and qualitative outcomes. About how and why these mattered to your client.

If you’re wondering how to sell yourself, do these five things (I’m not kidding about that rule):

  • Discover and develop an accurate picture of your hidden strengths
  • Be vulnerable, open and don’t pretend to know everything
  • Practice at every opportunity you get
  • Speak in soundbytes and “rules of three”
  • Use the PSR approach to build credibility

What have you found to be effective ways to come across as credible and knowledgeable ? What are “dead giveaways” that the person you’re speaking with doesn’t have a clue ? What have you discovered about how to sell yourself ?

Join the conversation, and drop a comment below.