Why is it so many people with the brains and the fortitude to go into business for themselves still consider “sales” a dirty word?
“I’m not much of a sales person,” they say apologetically. Or “I just don’t have the sales personality.”
I hear this all the time. These focused people are perfectly comfortable honing all the business skills they need to sustain themselves, but the most important one, the ability to move their services or products from themselves to others for a profit, terrifies them.
They are great at devising strategic plans and business plans; they are not shy to negotiate good deals on space and equipment; they embrace new ideas with gusto; and they invest their energy and savings into their dream of running their own business.
Wishing it would happen like magic
But when it comes to selling, and I mean selling themselves, their ideas, and their services and products, they visibly withdraw into a shell and wish it would all just go away. Some wish that the sales component of their company would just magically happen and people would line up at their door begging for what they have to offer.
The excuses for not focusing on sales are just shields to hide behind when you are afraid to ask people for money. They are veils to hide your shyness or lack of personal confidence. They are prisons that encase entrepreneurs in a land of doubt and failure when they should be going out there with certainty and earning the cash that is rightfully theirs for coming up with such a good business idea and valuable skill.
This is not an issue to be shrugged off. If you are just starting your business and you are not able to sell what you are producing, you will not be able to sustain yourself.
How can you find the power to sell yourself?
When you establish your business, there is a good chance that you have to sell yourself and your idea before you actually have products or service packages to sell. You may have to sell a bank or an investor on the idea of lending you money, for example. You may have to sell a spouse or a parent on the idea that running your own business has more potential for you than taking an offer for a steady job.
You will also have to sell your idea to a series of clients to build up an initial base for your business.
How do you do this if you can’t sell yourself?
There are two good reasons why people shy away from asking for the support they need to get going. They are afraid of rejection and they fear that they will be seen as a braggart if they engage in conversations about how great their service and business is. And they were told as children, nobody likes a showoff.
There are two strategies in particular that professional sales people use to overcome this fear. One is to consider the value they are bringing to the table, and the other is to be ready to overcome potential objections to their sales presentations. And one very important thing to remember here is that most objections are given simply because the value has not yet been presented well enough to the potential client.
Assess yourself as if you were a stranger
Let’s talk first about how to build your confidence to the point that you can sell yourself.
A good strategy is to simply step back and assess yourself as if you were a stranger.
If you were not you, but were a stranger, what would your best qualities be? What services could you deliver or products could you secure that would be unique in your area?
List the successes you have had in life. Keep at this project until you have at least 10 significant accomplishments that you know you achieved.
If you worked for others before you decided to be an entrepreneur, think about special projects that you led and how successful you were in leading people to the finish line.
In your social life, are you a leader? Do you accomplish significant milestones as a volunteer?
Think about the hours you have invested in learning and improving on your skillset so you can provide better service.
Once you have your list of accomplishments written, look them over regularly to inspire yourself to understand that you deserve to be paid by others for your skill and knowledge.
Prepare yourself for the tough questions
Selling is much more about presenting than defending, but a fear of having to defend ourselves is another factor that keeps us from enjoying the sales process.
A strategy professionals use is to ensure that they are ready for any tough questions that come their way.
If someone asks “why should I buy from you?” or “what do you do that is different from everyone else?” perhaps you imagine yourself turning numb and unable to respond.
As a process to handle these challenges, think of the hardest things anyone could possible ask you and prepare answers to those questions.
Practice your answers about why your company’s offering stands out above the others (and there is always a reason) and say it until it comes from you spontaneously. Look at all the unique things in your training and career that allows you to bring a better product or service to the market.
Redefine your response to the word “no”
Fear of rejection can be devastating unless you reframe it and look at it from the perspective of a learning experience.
In a given day, if one person says yes to your presentation and other says no, take some time to assess what went differently in the two meetings leading up to the conclusions.
In one case, were you selling your service to a client as a solution to their problem? In another were you just trying to persuade them that purchasing your service would enhance their business, but you had nothing specific to hang that claim on?
Consider that yes is the answer you want, but sometimes no is the answer you need to sharpen your sales skills to the next level. There is no element of rejection involved when you look at the sales process from that perspective.
Ignite your faith in yourself and your product or service
Instead of focusing on money and quotas in your sales presentation, consider the encounter between you and your client as a way to foster your faith in what you do and how you do it.
Become your own disciple. Understand that there is nothing quite as unique and as helpful to your client as the professional service you are offering them, or nothing that will be appreciated more by your client than the product you offer.
Faith moves mountains, it is said, but it also moves products and service packages. There is something enthusiastic and contagious about a person who truly believes in themselves and what they do. It attracts others and they want to be part of what you have to offer.
Stop thinking of yourself and think of your client
Nerves and sales jitters can also be diminished if instead of thinking of your own responses to the sales process, you consider only how you can add value to the life of your client.
Nothing calms you faster than focusing on someone else. In the interest of learning about others, we act instinctive and naturally, and that smooths the way for unveiling a calm and focused sales process.
You do not need a “sales personality” to sell; you need your authentic personality and a passion for your service or product.
You need to do your research and uncover how what you have to offer fits into the life and business of the person you are trying to sell it too.
In the process, you discover that sales is fun. It is not something to dread. It is a wonderful life-affirming process in which you know that the value you have to offer people will improve some aspect of their lives, and in the process, you will receive financial compensation.
As a transaction in life, it is one of the best. Once you reframe it and look at it from a different perspective, you will come to love it. Well, maybe not love it, but certainly not fear it. 🙂
Thank you for reading. Until next time take care.
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