Learn to Love Sales
As a freelancer, your success depends on how well you can sell. Don’t like to sell or don’t know how? Too bad. Time to put away the excuses and buckle down. The future of your freelance business depends on it.
The first thing you need to do is change your attitude about sales. Dispel any notion from your brain about sleazy used car salesmen right now. There is a great blog post on Inc.com about this very topic that I’d like to pull some wisdom from. Author Geoffrey James singles out three beliefs people who hate to sell hold close to them and they are:
Selling is Manipulative
People who hate to sell believe that sales people are trying their hardest to sell them something that the customer doesn’t really want.
Selling is Annoying
Who isn’t annoyed by unwanted sales calls at dinnertime? Some sales people simply won’t take no for an answer. People who hate to sell believe they are bothering their potential customers.
Selling is Boring
Very rarely do you pick up the phone to call someone about pitching a project and they say yes right away. Selling takes time and you need to stay on top of it. The rewards are not immediate, and can sometimes seem like they take forever.
If you believe these three things to be true, of course you hate selling! But these three things do not have to be true. What you need to do is to change your attitude and find out how you can find success. Here are some tips I’ve learned from some very successful sales people:
Instead of going into a meeting with a potential client hell bent on selling them your services, take a step back. Start by asking them questions to find out how your services can best help them achieve their goals.
I co-own a magazine with an amazing sales woman. And there is nothing she hates more than a bad sales person. Since I run the editorial side of things, I send all sales calls to her—and she’s brutal. If you try to sell her right off the bat, she shuts down. But engage her in a conversation about our business, and she is more apt to open up and engage in a dialog.
Be sure to take copious notes during any meetings you may have. This not only will help you to remember your conversation, but will show the person that you are taking what they say seriously enough to put pen to paper.
Sell Something They Need
Ask your potential client about their needs and goals. There may be ways that you can help them that they aren’t aware of. Instead of simply telling them what you can do for them, find out what they really need and tailor your sales pitch. If you don’t know what a client’s needs are, it’s much harder to convince them that they should hire you.
Try to find out if there is a way your services can improve on the services they already use. If you can be more efficient and save them money, then you will have a captive audience. This is a great time to share testimonials from other clients showcasing how easy and wonderful you are to work with. This way, you are doing less selling and more helping.
Instead of dreading a sales meeting with a potential client, see the situation as a way to network and make a new acquaintance. You never know what fascinating people you will meet if you view your sales calls as something more social.
The sales woman I work with makes it a goal to have fun on her sales calls. Sure, not every single meeting is filled with joy, but she goes into each one of them interested in learning something about the person she’s meeting with. It’s a small world out there, and you never know what sort of connections you will make. Even if she doesn’t sell something, people like her because she’s honest, open, and not at all condescending. She doesn’t put on her “sales hat” and instead finds success in just being herself. She is passionate about what she is selling, and that makes all the difference.
As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. The more you get out there and sell, the easier it will become. Ditching the preconceived notions about how terrible selling is will be the first step in the right direction.
If you are having a hard time getting started, try setting aside a certain amount of hours each week dedicated to sales. Scheduling in time for the task will help keep you on track and get the wheels moving. Don’t forget to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. While it would be great if you could hit the bull’s eye with each try, no one is perfect.