From the February 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

A lot of people have a lot to say about selling. They'll tell you their way is the best way to get more customers, the quickest way to get rich, or the only way to gain success. Deep down, however, we all know the truth--that there is no one way to sell. The real secret of selling is to be true to yourself--to sell with honesty and integrity (and a dash of humor) in the way that best fits your unique personality. No one else can do it quite the way you can.

The truth about selling is divided into two separate but equally important parts: your motive and your method. Your motive is the reason you sell in the first place. What are you thinking when you get up in the morning to go to work? Are you thinking about the paycheck? Are you thinking about your customer's business? Are you thinking about the ways your product or service can benefit the greatest number of people?

There's nothing wrong with thinking about the paycheck--it's a measurement tool that motivates many people. But selling is difficult, and it seems to me that the only thing that makes it easier is a love for what you're doing and what you're selling.

What motivates me? It's the challenge of it all. Maybe it's proving someone who tells me "no" or "it can't be done" wrong. Sometimes it's accomplishing something that's never been done before, or seeing a difficult project through to the end. Or it might be the opportunities you have to make other people happy through the value of your products or services.

For instance, I'm currently selling a product outside the normal distribution routes. My plan is to garner as much media attention as possible, get word-of-mouth going and then go back to the big distributors with a product that's already proven. What keeps me moving is the feedback I'm getting that tells me my product has value. My motivation--and my challenge--is to sell this value to as many people as possible via a nontypical, nontraditional route. That's what makes it exciting; that's the truth about selling for me.

The second part of the equation is the method you choose to sell your product or service. The truth here is that no one can really tell you how to do it. I'm not saying to ignore everyone else's knowledge and experience--there's a lot to be learned from those who've gone before. But the thing to remember is that there is no "right" way to sell; there's only the way that works best for you.

You've probably seen those infomercials from Ron Popeil (one of the world's greatest entrepreneurs) for his rotisserie cooker, the one with the motto, "Just set it, and forget it!" The same principle can be applied to selling. Learn as much as you can, let it "cook" in your mind--and then don't stress too much about it. You'll still have all that knowledge tucked away in the back of your mind, and you can draw on it whenever you need it. You can also follow my motto: CDC, or collect, discard, create. Collect as much knowledge and information as possible, discard what is not useful to you, and create and refine your own style.

So the truth about selling is whatever you make it. For people like us, selling is our life and our livelihood. Sometimes, in the craziness of selling, when setbacks loom and things aren't going as well as we'd like, it helps to think about how and why we do what we do. And that's the truth.