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3 Taboos You Must Integrate in Order to Sell Yourself Effectively

Selling is unavoidably sleazy. Learn to get comfortable with the Salesman Archetype.

Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

There’s no way around it: selling is sleazy.

It immediately invokes power dynamics with unsavory images. Hunters stalking prey. Greasy, pressure-y men with bad teeth and bad breath, cornering you in a tacky office full of stale air. Malignant advertising think-tanks, plotting to perfectly twang on the heartstrings and manipulate your impulses.

Yes, selling is seen as so evil that the Devil Himself is a salesman, always looking to get the better end of the bargain.

Selling is sleazy because it requires confronting some pervasive social taboos. To sell well, you have to be willing to do things that most people find uncomfortable. You must:

  • face your animal nature;
  • clearly ask for what you want; and,
  • withhold what you have from those who want it until they meet your demands.

Confronting the need to sell is of absolute importance when stepping into the world of entrepreneurship, business, or any self-supporting endeavor. And yet, the Salesperson archetype is one of the most challenging: the urge to turn away from it and avoid it is strong.

So — what’s a hungry girl to do?

Let's confront the taboo realities of selling to shed some light on this shadowy, dimly-lit, hush-hush territory.

You Must Eat.

“Never get so attached to a poem you forget truth that lacks lyricism. Never draw so close to the heat that you forget that you must eat.” — Joanna Newsom

Let us begin by remembering the most terrible of facts: we are all animals. We are animals who must eat — and therefore destroy — other life-forms.

Much as we would like to avoid this fact, and are helped in this avoidance by modern civilization’s extreme phobia of animal-ness, it remains true and incontrovertible.

Let that sink in:

In order for you to continue to live, you must DAILY consume the life-force of other beings.

So very many of us are focused on the good we wish to do in the world — the poetic truths we hold dear, the ideals we champion — and so hyper-aware of the harm and greed caused daily on our behalf, that it is tempting to disassociate from the reality of yourself as a primal animal, in need of animal sustenances.

Don’t do that.

Stay with me.

We need to stay present with ourselves as animals-who-need-to-be-fed for two reasons:

  1. If we forget this ourselves, we are liable to give overly-much without ensuring our own nourishment in the process.
  2. If we allow others to dull us into unawareness, we become dependent on others and easily frightened by our own bodies, and — interestingly — that much more susceptible to the sleaziest of sales tactics.

So — remember. You must eat.

We can be grateful that we are sheltered from the bloodiest truths of our animal nature by the clean and slick medium of money — and yet, we must never forget that we sell in order to live.

Like a lean mama wolf out on a cold clear night, her senses sharp and alert, we bring home rabbits in order to keep the flame of life alive in ourselves and those we love.

You Must Ask.

So much of what we despise in the salesperson archetype is their bold willingness to ask for what they want.

Clear, concise communications of desire are, in many ways, taboo in our culture.

We are more used to manipulation, passive aggression, and indirect requests.

More to the point, we are often completely unsure of what we want. So unsure, that the thought of explicitly asking for it is unthinkable.

We feel frightened of salespeople because when we don’t know what we want — when we are unsure of our own desire — the salesperson’s desire, their offer, can feel like a manipulation or seductive irresistible stand-in for our own missing desire energy.

This has all kinds of sexual-archetypal implications and accounts for the greasy patina we often psychically feel around sales interactions.

Most importantly, this discomfort with knowing our desire is the knot that must be unraveled in order to both sell effectively and be sold to without yucks.

To be an excellent salesperson, one must be able to ask with the confidence and respect of a lover fluent in the language of consent.

Clear requests and offers are made, objections are heard without reaction, negotiations are entered into until both parties are comfortable.

This is ideal. Open communication of desire between two people.

Very sexy.

You Must Know Your Worth.

The final taboo that smears on layers of fetid trashy stink is a salesperson’s willingness to represent their goods as valuable.

How audacious. So upsetting to narratives of smallness that many people have swallowed.

Even more revolting, the salesperson withholds their excellent, desirable, much-needed product until they get what they want.

They violate the most basic kindergarten laws of kindness — they don’t share, or bring enough for everyone (unless everyone can pay…).

And yet, given that the salesperson must eat — what other choice is there?

There will always be a tension of withholding until the score is settled.

It is here where the shadow of the buyer emerges most strongly in the archetype of the victim, or the beggar, or the down-on-his-luck, sure-could-use-a-hand type of guy who believes he deserves something for nothing.

The interplay between this beggar character (who secretly believes he deserves nothing) and the salesperson doesn’t last long if the salesperson is experienced: they lose interest.

How can a salesperson sell to a person who believes they deserve nothing, and therefore desire nothing, and are willing to offer nothing of themselves?

The willingness to cut ties quickly with this type of situation, knowing that they have valuable things to offer, adds a calculating callousness to the greasy sleaze of the Salesperson Archetype.

To Win at Selling is to Reconcile the Taboo.

In order to sell effectively, you must find acceptance for these things in yourself.

  • You Must Eat: to ask a price, to exact payment, is embedded in the natural order. Don’t feel bad about it, hide from it, or disguise it.
  • You Must Ask: know what you want, know what you’re offering, and know what you can and can’t do to be flexible and close the deal. Clear communication is a blessing we need more of it.
  • You Must Know Your Worth: and own it. No one deserves to consume you without supporting you in return unless you decide to let them. Having boundaries is not taboo, it’s hot.

You will know you have accepted these things in yourself when you encounter the Salesperson archetype in others, and instead of being skeezed out by the sleazy slime — you see a fellow artist of desire, working their magic.

Laila is a founding writer for Night Vision Publication and a certified Existential Kink Coach. Sit with yourself in a profound and creative way with this activity.



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Laila M Bernhardt

Laila M Bernhardt

Radical agent of transformation & shedder of light. Lover, rebel, wise counsel.