Resistant businesswomanDo you love your business but hate the selling part? Whether it’s calling prospective clients on the phone or writing persuasive emails and web copy, most self-employed professionals say that selling is the element of their business they dislike the most.

If it was possible to sell without having that feeling of discomfort in your gut, or those sweaty palms and increased heart rate, would you be willing to make a change?

You’ve probably already tried some solutions to your distaste of selling. For example:

  • Try to push through the dislike. Deny that you hate to sell. Use carrots and sticks to get yourself to pick up the phone or send an email.
  • Take classes, read books, or watch videos on how to sell. Try to learn how to be more assertive or even subtly (or not so subtly) manipulative.
  • Beat yourself up for being no good at selling. Try to get business without ever doing it. Struggle along with a business on the edge of failure, or seriously underearning.

Each of those methods can work for a while. But they’re all based on the “try harder” principle. Trying harder to use tactics that you aren’t happy with at the outset will produce more unhappy results. Eventually, you’ll burn out and give up.

Arrgh! There has to be a better way to get past a dislike of selling. And there is. In the twenty-five plus years that I’ve been coaching self-employed professionals to build thriving businesses, I’ve found three reliable paths to solving this thorny problem.

1. Change the people you sell to. Your target market should consist of people you enjoy spending time with, and whose problems and goals you care about. If you quit your job at a law firm (for example) because you didn’t like working with litigation attorneys, they should not be the clients you are now pursuing for your business. When you sell to people you like to hang around with, sales conversations can become easy and natural. Choose a niche that will feed your spirit, not just your bank account.

2. Build your connections and credibility. When prospective clients already know who you are, you rarely have to “sell” at all. Prospects who are referred to you by a mutual connection are often convinced of your value before they contact you. Public speaking can turn audience members into ready buyers before they leave the room. Blogging, publishing articles, or other consistent writing about your area of expertise can build your credibility enough that prospective clients come to you pre-sold.

3. Focus on service instead of selling. As a self-employed professional, what you excel at is serving your clients. This is your comfort zone as well as the area where you shine. Start treating prospects like you do clients from the first moment they contact you. Offer them information, advice, and resources that allow them to experience what it would be like to work with you. When a prospect is already getting value from you, moving the relationship to a paid status can be a smooth transition.

You don’t have to hate selling. You also don’t have to have interactions that you hate in order to have a successful business. And you definitely don’t have to hate yourself because you think you’re a failure at selling!

Choose one of these three hate-to-sell fixes to put into practice, and you can change the way you sell forever. Then you’ll be on your way to loving every part of your business.

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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