Thursday September 6, 2018
You Don’t Own That You’re a Salesperson
If you are struggling to get new clients, it’s often because you don’t consider yourself a salesperson. This is a common problem that occurs because of a stigma around the word “sales.” If you find yourself having trouble accepting that you can be a salesperson, you are creating a limiting belief.
A limiting belief is a belief that is drawn from a false conclusion. They stop us from moving forward—they are the head trash that keeps us from being able to convert prospects into clients or even attracting prospects in the first place. No one likes to be sold to, but that’s how business gets done. One person sells the service and the other purchases the service: that’s sales. If you are on the side of the table delivering an opportunity for someone to purchase what you are offering, you are selling.
A common fear around sales is that the other person will think you are only trying to sell them something. You must own that you are in fact trying to sell them something; that isn’t the real issue. The real issue is the approach you take to what you’re selling.
If the work feels salesy, consider re-evaluating what you’re saying. You need to be able to get your message across effectively. You must be able to tell others who you are, who you serve, what problems you solve, and what solutions you bring to the table. You must be an effective communicator, which starts by becoming crystal clear on who you want to attract and being able to voice that to them.
This makes first impressions essential. First impressions are all we get. There are no do-overs. People make up their minds about us quickly, so we need to deliver the best first impression possible.
I like to refer to your first impression as your introductory message. There are several scenarios where you’d deliver your introductory message and attract interest. Traditionally, you will have the opportunity to give a commercial or elevator pitch at networking events. You may have the chance to formally present your commercial to an entire group, or it could be in a more casual setting at a happy hour event or conference. The first key is to keep your message consistent no matter what environment you’re in.
The best way to diagnose if the reason you are failing in your sales conversations has to do with your messaging is to look for these signs:
- They just aren’t that into you. During your opportunity to share, your audience shows signs of disinterest: fake smiles, no emotion, no eye contact, not taking notes, or becoming distracted by their phones.
- There aren’t any follow-up questions. This is a tricky one. People often think that if an audience doesn’t ask questions, it means they fully understood what you said. In reality, it is usually the opposite. You want to lead them to ask more open-ended questions, including “Tell me more about how you do that,” “How did you come up with that?” “That sounds interesting,” and “I’d love to learn more.”
- There is no second date. The intent of networking is to meet someone, then take them to the next step in the relationship. If you aren’t getting people who ask to schedule a time to chat, give you their business card or ask for yours, or try to continue the conversation in any form, it’s not them, it’s you.
I want to be clear: not everyone is going to be your ideal audience. So be wary of getting defeated by the above scenarios if you aren’t talking to the right audience. If you are clear on who you are, who you serve, and how you serve, you will quickly be able to identify the right people to work with.
The key to creating long-lasting relationships begins by setting the groundwork through that first impression. The moment that you meet or interact with a prospective client, collaborative partner, vendor, or affiliate partner is the moment you determine how you are going to be treated and how you will treat them. Making them feel heard and that they matter begins immediately. One of the simplest ways to convey this is to ask them about their preferred method of communication. It’s awfully simple, but can make a significant impact. Why?
When you ask someone how they’d like to be contacted it does two things. First, it acknowledges their needs (the “matter” part), and it gives you instructions for how to approach them (the “heard” part). Right out of the gate, you’ve laid the first brick of appreciation and good communication. The second thing this does is empower you to anticipate when someone is likely to engage with you. You’ve already learned the easiest way to get ahold of that person as you continue to build your relationship.
Another very important fact is that fully-developed professional relationships require multiple forms of communication. You won’t just be using their preferred form of contact—it’s important not to sacrifice your own comfort and abandon your preferences. You need to voice your preferences to assure that reciprocity is possible. I recognize that not everyone communicates best in the same way, especially with the number of options available to connect.
I once worked with a woman who wanted to book me for a speaking engagement. She contacted me on Facebook Messenger, my least-preferred form of communication for work. I’m a phone call person. When I realized that she had been trying to get ahold of me, I let her know that I preferred discussing these matters on the phone, but if Facebook messenger was better for her, we could perhaps find some middle ground. We ended up settling on text messaging. Needless to say, it was much easier for us to finalize our agreement and for her to book me as a speaker.
Setting yourself up for success begins with the very first encounter, whether it’s an email introduction, a meeting at a networking event, or a meeting with an audience you have spoken or presented to. If you lead with the intention of relationships founded on appreciation and crystal-clear communication, you will build relationships faster, which leads to gaining revenue faster and a break from being in constant hustle mode.
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