I used to equate the act of selling with obnoxious, slimy used car salesmen that were all about hustle. I would get sick to my stomach when thinking about cold-calling a prospective client, or handling a project negotiation.
But then I had the good fortune of working with sales training guru Skip Miller. In my work helping him design classes and grow his business, I was forced to learn a lot about selling. Under his constant tutelage, I got over some major phobias. I once told him "I will never teach a class on selling since I hate it and I will come across as insincere."
"Let me ask you a question," he said. "How long have you been in business?" At that point, I had been in business for 3 years. "And you have a number of big clients, right?" he said. "How did you get them?"
"Oh, I didn’t have to do any selling, they all came via referrals from other clients," I said.
"Guess what – THAT is selling!"
That sure opened my mind!
Among the many things I learned working with him, here were the highlights:
- Selling is a process. The first time you meet with a client you don’t have to worry about jamming your proposal down their throat. You want to take the time to really get to know their situation and see if there is a mutually beneficial reason to continue down the sales path. If not, it is better to cut bait and pass them on to a more appropriate resource. Otherwise you will be forcing yourself on them and validate your distaste at selling to someone who really doesn’t want to do business with you.
- Price is based on value. So many newbie entrepreneurs I know are petrified about pricing their services. What if the client will think it is too much? What if Joe next door is selling the same thing for less? If you just focus on price and ignore the value that it generates the client, you are missing the boat entirely. Skip always says "you know the funny thing about clients? … When they give you money, THEY WANT IT BACK!" And if you can’t explain in concrete terms how your services will save them money, reduce their risk, increase their profits or build their brand, you will never be successful at negotiating price.
- People buy from people they like and they trust. If you are selling services that you are passionate about, believe in and know will make a positive difference in your client’s lives, your actions will come from a place of truth and authenticity and your clients will feel it. Approach all conversations with honesty and look out for the best interests of the client, whether or not your services are the answer to their problem. If they trust you, chances are they will buy from you even if your competitors have a similar service at a lower price.