When I started my business back in 1995, one of the hardest things I had to learn was how to sell. I had to sell my ideas and concepts to my clients. I had to make those cold calls that everyone dreads. It wasn’t easy, and I hated doing it. I thought I would just hang out my “Open for Business” sign and everyone would just come to me for their graphic design needs. Well, let’s face it, that isn’t how the world actually works. Each of us need to sell (something).
If you think about it though, we are all natural born sales people. You have been selling your entire life. I bet you can think of a time that you either wanted something from someone or wanted to persuade someone in your life. If you’re married, you needed to convince your spouse that you were worth marrying, right? You had to sell yourself, why you were worthy of sharing your life with them.
Selling in business is just an extension of this naturally born characteristic. It just takes a bit of practice. The best way to be successful at selling is to just go out and sell. Doing so makes the difference and you eventually become more comfortable with it.
So what is holding us back when it comes to selling? Fear. Fear of rejection, fear of the word “No”, the fear of ridicule. As Jack Canfield puts it in his 30 Days to Success program, when the person you’re talking to says “No” you say “Next”. Eventually, someone is going to say “Yes”. It’s a numbers game.
I believe it was Woody Allen that said “80% of success is showing up”. And he would be right. Put yourself in situations to sell your product or services. Seek out events that gather people together and attend these. Safe to say that somebody in that room needs you.
Add other methods to get in front of potential customers. You can show up in the media; make contact with potential clients using a newsletter or blog; call clients once a month if you haven’t heard from them; and don’t forget your website… this is your 24/7 salesman, keep it up-to-date. There are a number of methods that can add as touch points. Find the combination that best suits you.
In sales, you should be building a network. The person you just pitched to may not need your product or service, but they may know someone who does. That’s one of the ways my business has grown over the years… referrals from happy clients and business associates. And the magic word here is “trust”. They need to trust and believe in you. And the only way to build trust is to build a relationship.
And speaking of referrals, do you have a referral program in place? For many businesses, especially retail and restaurants, can use these very effectively to generate new customers. Here at Thunderstruck, we keep it simple and offer a sincere “thank you” either verbally in person or on the phone, through an email or a handwritten note.
At a recent seminar on generating sales leads put on by our local Chamber of Commerce, I learned that it’s important to be a “consultant” for each of your clients. Partner with them, collaborate on projects with them. This creates value. When you create and deliver valuable expertise for your clients, they’ll come back. And hopefully bring more clients to you as well.
Another tidbit of information I learned at the seminar was the Rule 152X. The presenter, Dr. Jeffrey Magee, asked every one in the room to pull out their phones and open the calendar app. He then instructed us to type Rule 152X on Monday and hit repeat weekly. What Rule 152X stands for is (1) once a week for (52) weeks a year, you’ll spend a day developing and researching sales leads. Not necessarily making sales calls, rather, looking at your customer list and find out who you haven’t spoken to in awhile, doing internet research, or developing a customer profile.
Ask yourself, “What does a good customer look like?” and start building that profile. What are some of the similar, common characteristics of your customers?
Lastly, the number 1 tool of selling is your business cards. You should be reprinting these often. Why? Because you should be handing these out left and right, at every opportunity. Put a stack of your business cards in your car, in your coat pocket, on your desk, in the reception room, near your car keys, you get the idea. You should be ready to hand someone a business card at a moment’s notice. Personally, I have some in my winter coat, sport coat, in my car, in our conference room, and of course on my desk.
So after 32 years in business, I’m much more at ease about selling our services. Oh, it still can be daunting and scary, but I can honestly say that I don’t hate it. In fact, I tend to enjoy the process of reaching out to clients and meeting new people.