You've done the training. You've written the copy. You've paid the web designer. Your headshot looks pretty damn good, if you do say so yourself. You've been kicking your own bum to get this business launched. And it's been a ton of work! You've had to overcome your Inner Critic, defend your entrepreneurial life choice to some well-meaning family members and friends, and you've come out the other side with a shiny new LLC, freshly-printed biz cards and...nothing.
Not a ton of clients. Pretty much silence.
Whether your launch process took six days or six months, all business owners come face to face with the day when they realize that they gotta sell some shit.
And it's my theory that the reason so many businesses fail is because most people don't realize this fact:
If you don't sell, you don't have a business.
I also think that people start their own businesses with a bit of wishful thinking:
"If I do all the right social media, marketing initiatives, etc, then my product/service will sell itself."
"If my mindset is right then I'll attract all the clients I could ever want."
"I'm not good at sales so I'll just hire someone to do that part."
If you've ever had a sales job and left it for running your own business hoping you'd never have to have a sales manager breathing down your neck, quarterly targets, and uncertainty about performance, then I have news for you: we're all selling something.*
So, what can we do when we realize that the only thing left to do (to be successful) is to sell?
Well, you could run away- take a nap, eat a snack, take another spin around the old social media universe in an effort to look busy and productive while you avoid the imminent.
Or, you could embrace it.
When I was doing my first "job" as a freelance sales rep for several brands of clothing/accessories, I started with zero contacts, no experience, and unknown brands. In other words: uphill battle.
Within a few months I was the highest grossing sales person for one of my brands and had some cordial relationships with store owners/buyers up and down the east coast.
My livelihood depended on making cold calls, setting up appointments, and charming the pants out of my buyers because the brands I was selling sure as hell weren't going to sell themselves.**
But I knew that I wanted to sell something that was better quality, of a higher taste level and which I sold to more interesting/nicer peeps.***
Basically, I wanted to sell something that I created!
What better item than....myself!?
So I'm in a service-based business, selling coaching/training to individuals and companies. And now via House of Bond, I'm selling advertising.
And I still. have. to. sell.
Dang it. How did this happen?!?!?!
I have a sales rep (for House of Bond). I have great clients and recommendations (for the Coaching Collective) and yet I am still making lists of potential clients, reaching out, and having chats.
Does this mean I'm a failure? Does it mean my brand isn't good enough? No. It means I'm in business. And my primary purpose, my number one goal is to help potential customers decide whether or not my products and services are (or are not) for them.
If you are not hip to this part of your business, then what can you do?
Here are my easy-peasy ways to get over yourself and start embracing the salesmanship role in your business.
1. Uh, embrace it. Seriously. Reach out and hug your computer (where your salesforce.com or other CRM most likely lives). Because I want you to understand WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM THAT BUYS ALL YOUR SHIT. AND YOUR VACATIONS. AND YOUR 401K.
I want you to LOVE that your database of potential customers is the glue that keeps it all together. The horse to your cart. The fuel to your fire.
Now, proverbially embrace all those peeps (yes because that database is representative of actual people, not just a paycheck), and let them know you care. Email. Phone call. Present. Whatevs. Make it happen.
2. Ask questions. I HATE (and I'm sure you hate them too) getting sales calls where someone just talks and talks and talks at you. It sucks. It's not fun and you just want to get off the phone. I have an assignment for you: make a sales call and only ask questions. No declarative statements other than your name and your company. See what happens. Then email me to tell me about it.
I know a guy (Paul who works for trinet.com) who is really good at this. The first time we met, he just asked me questions about my biz. None of that weird expository "sales speak" where he just rattles through a 3 minute script without breathing. And guess what? Now I want to tell every small biz owner I know about his work. Because he asked questions. And they have a healthy referral fee. Just saying.
3. Remember that you don't need to seal the deal on the first date. I've written about this before. Toss out all those idiotic scripts with tie-downs that you've learned from those shady "coaches and mentors" who tell you to ask for a credit card before getting off the phone. You are building a relationship. You do not want to eff it up by trying to get in their
pants wallet on the first date. Unless they're more than willing. Then it's totes fine.
4. Just do it. Don't wait, dilly dally, or otherwise procrastinate. Do something that is a revenue generating task every single day. Press releases, social media, and blog posts do not count. I mean reach out and schedule phone calls.
That is all for now. I have to go send out initial contacts to some prospects. I'm sending paperless post invites. What are you doing?
Tell me! @magnetismfactor
* That's right. It's obvious that entrepreneurs are selling something, but even random solo contributors in big companies are selling something: themselves. Their performance each year is selling their boss on another year of employment. Hollywood actresses are also actually brilliant sales people. They schmooze and cultivate their mystique and shove themselves into Spanx and occasionally sleep with decision makers with the hope of selling themselves to a director for a role.
** One brand was pretty hideous and another, sadly, was too edgy for its time. It'd be great NOW but fashion is all about timing. Boo.
*** Not all fashion boutique owners are mean/arrogant. Only the majority. Hahahaha no really I think being in that business can harden them- it's a tough industry and often the big fashion brands treat the store owners poorly if they have a "small" store. I did just meet the owners of famed Kirna Zabete while I was at my college reunion and THEY are delightful and having a huge sale right now.