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How to sell anything

By Jacqueline Mahugu | Aug 4th 2019 | 4 min read

Selling anything requires having mastered the art of persuasion. And they have mastered it.  

1. It is all in the presentation

Make sure that whatever you are selling is the highest quality that you can make, and make sure that you package it well. Whether it is something to eat or something to hear, make sure it tastes or sounds good. You need to package it well for them, to entice them, to make them interested in what you are doing. So even if it is your skills that you’re selling, you have to look good. Whether we like it or not, our senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste) are the first thing that get to experience something, so appearances are very important. So make sure the appearance, that is the packaging, engages the senses in an alluring way. To generate some interest in your target market. If it looks good from the get-go and the quality of your product matches lives up to their expectations, you are most likely not going to haggle over price much, if at all.

 Fredrick Wang’ombe, Founder and CEO of House of Dillie

2. Appeal to your target market’s self-interest

Whatever you are trying to persuade someone to buy, whether it is an idea or a good, they should be able to see how much of their problem you are solving by making the purchase. They don’t need to think about how much you are making from them or who else is benefiting from it. Even if it is for a worthy cause, like saving the environment, the truth is most people will not be that interested until they understand how it benefits them. You can borrow a page from the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The 13th law states that when asking for help, you should appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.

 Tip when asking for help

“If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind that person of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasise it out of all proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.”

  Chris Mureithi, CEO, Premiere Group

3. Use Greek wisdom

Apply Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion, which he described when talking about making a persuasive argument. The techniques are ethos, pathos and logos. Persuasive communication usually employs all three techniques.


When you use pathos, you appeal to emotion. Find a way to evoke your target’s feelings, such as anger, pity, fear or their opposites.


When you use ethos you appeal through having established your own credibility and character. To be or appear credible, you need to demonstrate competence, good intention and empathy.


This refers to using reason. Appeal to their logical mind. This involves the actual content of your speech. Provide good information, using data, documents and whatever else lends credence to what you are saying.

So if you want to have a persuasive pitch, use those three, and if you take them to their logical conclusion, you will be able to sell or advertise anything.

 Derek Bbanga, CEO, Public Image Africa

4. Know that customers will buy your goods and services based to two key factors

If you are trying to sell an actual product, then the number one thing that you should know is that customers will make purchases based to two key factors: prices and differentiation. Period.  This was proved by Prof Michael Porter, the Professor at Harvard Business School and has been tested and proven as real.

How differentiation works

Someone interested in class and style will walk to DT Dobie, wearing a London tailored suit, and a Rolex watch to buy an AMG Mercedes Benz car. That is differentiation. A frugal person may have millions in the bank but will walk to Nairobi’s River Road looking for a ‘hotel’ that sells tea at sh15 and mandazi at sh10. You have to know your customer and their preference. Study the person you are selling to, understand them and tailor it to their needs. Don’t bog the potential customer with a lot of unnecessary details. Just try to justify to the customer why he needs to acquire your specific product or service. Study and understand them, and you will know what to sell where and at what price.

 David Kariuki, Director, Assured Management Solutions

5. Be an expert in your product

 Know your product. Imagine every question a prospect might ask and arm yourself with answers, linking each product fact to a customer benefit.A successful sell means communicating the value of your product or service to your potential customers. Lead the customer through the buying decision and facilitate a satisfying transaction.

Develop your personal brand

If you want to successfully sell your product or service, start by selling yourself (share value).

The key to success is actually creating the right visibility for yourself and promoting your personal brand by sharing value (then refer your audience to “find more” in your product or service). If your personal brand is successful, your product or service will also be successful.

 Andrew Gwadiva, Investor Relations Lead, GrowthAfrica

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