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.
Most of us self-employed professionals truly enjoy no longer having to answer to The Boss. But the lack of anyone to report to can be a problem. There’s no one to make you perform sales and marketing tasks you don’t want to do. If you procrastinate about posting to your blog, resist going to networking events, or find follow-up calls too scary to make, no one will know that you’re avoiding marketing except you.
I understand that marketing and sales involve activities that can be confronting. Even I don’t always find marketing easy, and that’s after 25-plus years of having a successful business. Finding ways to overcome resistance to marketing is often the first topic new clients bring up when they start working with me.
The fear of hearing those words when marketing your professional services can stop you in your tracks. It’s the response you may most dread hearing when you make a sales pitch: “You? You think I should hire you? Well, who do you think you are?”
In reality, potential clients rarely say anything quite so confronting. Most people are polite and considerate when they decline to do business with you. But the real replies you hear from prospects are often a lesser obstacle to your success than the responses you imagine in advance. The negative reactions you think you might get can prevent you from saying anything at all.
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.
Is there really a secret formula for marketing? Yes.
The secret formula is this:
Find a marketing strategy that you like, that you’ll use, that’s enjoyable for you, that you know how to do, that reaches your ideal client, and that produces results. Then do it over and over until you have the amount of business you want.
Pretty simple when you look at it that way.
Fear may start to creep in, though, when you break that sentence down.
What if I don’t like any marketing strategies?
What if I don’t know how to “do” marketing?
What if I don’t like doing any kind of marketing?
What if what I do doesn’t reach my ideal client?
What if what I like doesn’t produce results?
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.