2 Unlikely Principles to Sell People On Your Ideas

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When you’re in the field of making the world a better place – sometimes it feels like you have to market yourself. 

You want to sell people on your ideas but you don’t want to sleazily force them into it. You want to be a supportive leader that helps make the world more just, not be a used car salesman making false promises. 

Which means that when we’re talking to funders, potential partners, or even our own team, we can think we have to convince them to sign on. 

But how can you run an organization without being persuasive? 

Well, I’ve found 2 unlikely principles that are key to selling people on your ideas – ethically, fairly, and mutually beneficial.

Sales Aren’t What You Think

Before diving in, let’s clarify something. 

When we think of sales, we think about some charismatic, slick-talking telemarketer who will paint you into a corner until you buy something.

But at its heart, sales, whether it’s selling an idea, your skills, or your organization, is about helping someone connect a specific action with the desired result.

Think of a housecleaner, your local candlemaker, a Spanish interpreter. They provide value to those who use them in the form of more time, an aesthetically pleasing home without using chemicals, or a connection with those we don’t share a common language.

Sales helps people see how improve the lives of those who use them

So how do you focus on value instead of manipulation? Well, you do it with these two principles. 

The 2 Principles to Sell People on Your Ideas

We don’t need manipulation to get by. We can produce genuine change and support our community by following these two principles:


Surprising, right? 

It turns out, you’ll grow your organization and increase your membership way faster by listening than by speaking. 

This is a skill I acquired after years as a facilitator, and it fits nicely into my journey of learning how to “sell myself”. Because if you want to help people and provide them a service – they need to tell you what they need. 

You’ll go far by simply sitting back, listening, and truly understanding what is important to them. 

This allows you to put yourself in a position to help a person. First you discover what they need, and then you can find a way to help them (if you even can)!


If you want to create community and establish trust – you need to be generous. You can connect with people who admire you and provide them with support. 

And while this should come as second nature to changemakers, we don’t always see it as an obvious part of sales. But providing value is a way to connect with people and establish a relationship. 

Think of those free samples of perfume or little snacks in a grocery store. You get a small taste of what those products are like – and you might decide you love them. 

The same goes for leaders and changemakers. Show people what you have to offer, be generous with your support – and people will naturally come to you.

Leaders Communicate

Having a facilitative approach to your organization is the best way to establish a connection with those around you. 

Listening and giving are soft skills that will create stronger relationships with funders, clients, and your team. And those skills are the foundation of building long-term success. 

People see through pushy, but appreciate sincerity. 

What other skills do you think are helpful for leaders? Let us know below!

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Riahl Hey, folks! Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Riahl O’Malley. I use he/him pronouns. I’m with Learning to Transform, and

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