Why is it that some people seem to be naturals at selling, while others struggle to close every sale or even fail completely in a role that requires them to sell? In 1982, psychologist Martin Seligman, PhD, set out to answer that question for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Seligman had been studying optimism and pessimism in the laboratory for almost twenty years when Met Life heard about his research. Could Seligman help them learn how to hire more effective salespeople, they asked?
As it turned out, he could. In a series of studies for Met Life that analyzed the relationship between successful selling and the personality of the salesperson, Seligman confirmed in the field what his laboratory research had predicted — optimists make more sales than pessimists.
They lie in wait for you when you least expect them — the marketing dragons of fear, resistance and procrastination. Just when you think you’ve defeated them at last, they rear their ugly heads again. What’s a self-employed professional to do?
First of all, don’t panic, despair, or beat yourself up. It’s completely normal to have elements of fear and resistance show up around sales and marketing. Even if it seems like you’re the only one who has these feelings, trust me, you’re not.
When thinking about the best way to get new business, it’s often good to remember that contacting a prospect directly can be the most effective tactic. However, this can sometimes seem too scary: the thought of picking up the phone, or meeting someone for coffee, or even sending an email can send a wave of fear through your business heart.
Here are some common fears you might experience when considering reaching out to someone directly:
- They’ll think I’m bothering them.
- I don’t know what to say.
- I’m not a good salesperson.
- I’m an introvert.
- I’m not good with words.
- They won’t remember me.
- I’m not sure how to make an offer.
A question I often get from clients and students goes something like this: “I’ve been collecting marketing ideas… and I have a drawer full! I also have a stack of promising leads I’ve accumulated. And I know it’s important to stay visible, so I keep marketing, but then I just end up with more names in the stack. How do I prioritize all this?”
If you’ve ever wondered something similar, you may have lost sight of a very important truth — the way to win the business game is not to collect the most leads; it’s to make the most sales.
Every time I give a marketing workshop or talk to a new coaching client, I hear the question: “Aren’t I bugging people if I keep following up with them?”
The answer is no. The only circumstances under which you would ever be “bugging” prospective clients would be if they’ve already told you they are not at all interested in what you offer, or asked you specifically to stop contacting them. In any other situation, your continued contact with a potential client is not only acceptable, it is often welcome.
Have you ever considered that prospective clients who are referred to you are much more likely to hire you than those who come to you in any other way? The endorsement of a referral carries so much weight that referred prospects ask fewer questions about your qualifications, are less likely to shop for the lowest price, and typically make their buying decisions much more quickly. In fact, they are often pre-sold when they contact you.
With the value of referred prospects being so high, it makes sense for generating more referrals to be an essential component of your marketing. But many professionals limit their ability to gain referrals by concentrating all their efforts on current and past clients.