Many self-employed professionals believe they don’t know how to sell. You’re justified if you think that of yourself. You didn’t go into business to be a salesperson. You became self-employed because you wanted to help people with web design or personal training or architecture or resumé writing. In order to get clients, you need to have sales conversations, but they aren’t something you’ve ever trained to do. You may even believe you’re no good at them.
Let’s fix that.
To the average self-employed professional, following up with prospective clients feels awkward or even scary. You hate making phone calls that might not be welcome. You think you might be pestering people. You worry about being rejected. You aren’t sure what to say. After all, how many times can you ask, “Are you ready for us to work together?”
I get it. My clients and students share concerns like these with me all the time. I’ve even had them myself.
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.
No matter how many emails you send out, how much time you spend on social media, or how many networking events you attend, you still need to pick up the phone sometimes and call potential clients.
As a self-employed professional selling your own services, you may believe that you feel uncomfortable about calling prospective clients on the phone because you’re not a “real” salesperson. But studies reveal that 40-90% of experienced, full-time salespeople still have episodes of call reluctance at times.
The good news is that the fear or resistance you experience about making calls doesn’t have to be permanent. Research also indicates that for 95% of people who are reluctant to make sales calls, their fear subsides once they make contact. If you stop avoiding the calls and start making them, there is a very good chance that you will feel better once you start talking to someone.