“I cannot sell” or “I hate having to sell.”
If you are an entrepreneur or a one-person business, the bottom line is - suck it up and get over it! You have no choice but to develop a love of selling, or at the very least develop an appreciation for the power the skill of selling places in your hands.
When you decided to go out on your own, you lost that entire sales division. Overnight, the division was reduced to one person: you. You must overcome your aversion to selling, and the bottom line is you need a change in attitude. Selling is not a complex skill, but it is vital for the small entrepreneur, so you must become the best salesperson you can.
This article is designed to help you overcome the aversion to selling, and give you some tools that will help you in your sales efforts.
Attitude Check: What does selling mean to you as a person?
Flashing through your mind will be the phone conversations with a sleazy second-hand car salesman, or the telemarketers that choose the very worst moment to call and then refuse to take no for an answer. When viewed through this prism, it is not surprising that selling becomes a swear word in your dictionary - but it does not have to be like that.
If you ask a cross-section of business people what selling means to them, the answer is boiled down into three areas:
Selling is manipulative
If you believe the lie that selling is all about manipulating people into buying what you are selling, irrespective of whether they want it or not, it is not surprising you think salespeople are on par with snake oil salesmen.
Selling is irritating
Every one of us can attest to the pesky salesperson that inundates you with e-mails, messages, and calls about a sale. You tend to view all sales and salespeople as pests that need to be eradicated.
Selling is boring
Most of the tasks that you undertake as an entrepreneur tend to be fast paced or within your areas of expertise, but selling - and here we mean good selling - can take time. You need to give your clients time to think it over, and that can make the task appear boring.
If you believe any one of these statements is true, it can mean the death knell for your small business. You need to adjust your attitude as quickly as you can, and replace these negative ideas with a positive outlook.
Selling is helpful
Make a conscious decision never to sell anyone anything they don’t need. This shows you that selling is a process of helping someone gain a product or service that will make a difference in their lives. With this mindset, selling can no longer be manipulative.
Selling is pleasing
Make a conscious decision never to annoy anyone, let alone a prospective customer or business partner. With this as your mindset, you can view selling as meeting interesting new people and having fascinating conversations about solving their problems. If you make other people happy and make new contacts and perhaps friends, how can selling be a bad thing?
Selling is interesting
Make a conscious decision to learn something new from each sales interaction. People are fascinating creatures, and it is engaging to watch the decision-making process. Be curious about your customers, and boredom will never plague you again.
Successful selling does not rely on underhanded tactics, or driving potential customers and business partners to distraction with pushy tactics. Successful salespeople make sure the customer is happy with the purchase they have made, and that the product or service they purchased was right for them. Fix in your mind the idea that your ability to sell your product or service is every bit as important to your fledgling business as the product or service you are offering.
Focus on Your Customer
Stop focusing on selling anything, and focus on your customer. What is their business? What is the problem they have? What are their needs? Once you focus on the problems you are trying to solve, you are no longer selling anything; you are a partner in solving the problem. Try to get involved with their strategy and think of long-term relationships instead of a single sale. Customers that return time and again are the geese who lay the golden eggs for your business. Spend time cultivating them, and become a partner rather than a one-off debt.
There is one platform where you could sell your services or expertise while getting a good return.
In this way, you are neither pushy nor overbearing but you are working together to solve a problem, and the selling will be a natural outcome of solving that problem.
Believe that You are Valuable
One of the biggest reasons that people hate to sell is they think they are not valuable. This lack of confidence translates to a belief that they cannot sell. Cultivate the belief that things will be different and better for your customer simply because you are here now. Remember; your customer is also full of doubts and fears that you and your solution will not resolve the problem. You must learn to project an image of confidence and transfer that confidence to your client, so you both move forward feeling sure this is the right solution.
You have within you a set of unique attributes that will make the world a better place when you share them. With a belief system like this, you will find many ways to communicate with, connect with, and work with your clients.
Give Yourself a Target
As with most aspects of business, you should measure your sales success. One means of achieving this is to give yourself a sales or revenue target, and measure your progress towards it. When you attain the target, take the time to look back on how you arrived at that point. If you miss, then reflect on why you missed. Were there opportunities you did not capitalize upon? Did you miss approaching companies that could use your product or service? If so, do you know anyone in that company you can approach? Do you have any networking opportunities you can use to your advantage? If the answer was your attitude, then start working to change it. Your business will depend on you, welcoming that change.
Follow up on Every Lead
You may be a one-man business, but put aside some time each week to follow up on prospective leads. There is no point in working flat out on one project, only to have nothing else in the pipeline when it is finished. No small business can withstand a feast or famine environment indefinitely, so try to keep your hand on the leads you have. This will help you to move as smoothly as possible from one project to the next.
Do not discount your past customers. It is easier to sell to a customer that likes and trusts you, so keep in contact even if it is just a friendly e-mail on a monthly or quarterly basis. Keep yourself in their mind’s eye, so they consider you for other work.
Know When to Stop Talking
This may sound a little strange, but know when to shut up! When you have finished your pitch and you are told the project is yours, say ‘thank you’ and stop talking about the project. Ask for a date for a kick-off meeting and then change the subject, or close the meeting and leave. Do not be tempted to babble along as the customer may start to get irritated.
A dislike of selling is not unique, and you are not alone in feeling pressure when trying to sell your product or service. Honesty, a passion for your product, and a good strategy will win the day. Take the time to adjust your attitude, and decide to sell in a positive mindset.
Did you have to change your attitude to sell? Please share your tips for learning to enjoy selling with our community.