I don't have many rules in life. There are always exceptions to the rules, and I don't want pre-judge or miss any opportunity because of some silly belief I had that may not be true. I reserve the right to be able to change my mind when the facts change.
That said, this is about as close as I'd come to having a rule.
Be A Product of the Product
What does it mean to be a product of the product? It's quite simple. Be a living example of what you sell, recommend or advise others. Personify what you preach. Show don't tell. Lead by example.
Why is this so important? Again, it's quite simple. I would be incredibly skeptical about taking financial advice from someone who's broke, fitness advice from someone who's unhealthy, dating advice from someone who's always single, life advice from someone who's life isn't all that interesting. I wouldn't hire someone to build a website for me if their website looked like garbage.
The list could go on and on, but I think we all get the point. If you are not a product of the product, there are major red flags that immediately go off in my head that are most likely insurmountable.
Don't Sell Me, Show Me
If you want me to buy your product, you damn well better be able to show me that you are successfully implementing your own advice or taking your own product.
A quick, recent example. Hopefully no one gets offended by this, but this is just the honest truth about what went through my head. I have a friend who runs mastermind groups. I love the concept. I've tried, unsuccessful, to get a mastermind group together in the past. Probably for the exact reason I'm about to explain to you now. This friend pitched me on all the amazing benefits of the mastermind group, which I was already sold on. He was charging $50 a month for access to this group, which seemed reasonable. Here's where he lost me. This guy didn't fit my example of success. He was driving his wife's car which was pretty old and the bumper was rusted and falling off. I am not materialistic at all, and I am completely judgement-free. However. When you're asking me to pay to join your mastermind group, I imagine surrounding myself with the most successful and well put together people. This seemed to conflict with what I saw with that bumper. I didn't join the group.
I try my best to "show not sell" in every aspect of my life. When we are talking to potential clients for Firehawk, our past portfolio of apps and websites sells itself. Any one of our clients would go to bat for us in a second. When I give someone startup advice, it's likely becuase I've already made that mistake myself.
If you want to succeed in sales today, you better be a product of the product. Our bullshit detectors are so high now that people will see right through you. The used car salesman approach is long gone, thankfully.
People value authenticity and transparency above all else. Be a shining example of someone who eats their own dog food. Show me that it works for you first, before you try to sell it to me. That's how you'll win every time.