When interacting with potential clients and referral sources, a helpful self-promotion tool is a collection of client success stories. Everyone loves to hear stories — we find them entertaining, educational, or evocative of deeper emotions. We identify with people through the stories they tell.
When talking with a potential client, do you find yourself being too vague when describing your business? Don’t worry! This trap is easy to fall into — and easy to get out of. When it comes to having sales conversations, specificity is king.
Responding to an inquiry, placing a follow-up call, or having a sales conversation are all situations where you can expect your prospects to ask questions. Preparation is the key to a confident response, but unfortunately, sometimes we prepare only for the questions we want to hear, and not for the tougher ones clients often ask.
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.
Do you err on the side of not being assertive enough because you’re afraid you’ll come off as sharky when talking to a potential client?
I know I did.
Those early days of business, when I was eager to get clients, yet didn’t really know how to do that, I vacillated between being too assertive, AKA sharky, and not assertive enough. Those were some uncomfortable days to be sure!
When it comes to having a sales conversation, you may find yourself melting into a puddle. You might hear yourself say things like, “What’s the big deal about asking people to do business with me? I know it’s just a conversation between two people, and that people don’t bite, so why can’t I seem to do it? I wish I could just get over myself.”
There are two fallacies that contribute to these inner critic conversations; understanding these lies can be a lifesaver because only then can you get over yourself and become the sales pro you’re meant to be.
Do 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?
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.
“So that’s what I have to offer you, Mr. Prospect. What do you think?”
“Well, Ms. Professional, I’d like to think about it.”
“Okay, may I call you next week?”
Does this dialogue sound at all familiar? Yet another sales conversation is ending with a stall from the prospective client. Is he actually interested in hiring you, or was that just a polite way to say no? What exactly is it that he wants to think about?
When I rewrote the Get Clients Now! book for the 3rd edition, I decided to change the name of the third stage of the Universal Marketing Cycle from “getting presentations” to “having sales conversations.”
If you haven’t read the book (or it’s been a while), here’s what I mean by “stages” of marketing. The Universal Marketing Cycle is an insightful diagnostic tool to help consultants, coaches, and self-employed professionals choose where to focus your marketing efforts.