As a professional selling your own services, you may believe that your discomfort about calling prospective clients on the phone is because you’re not a “real” salesperson. But studies reveal that up to 40% of full-time salespeople experience episodes of call reluctance that are serious enough to threaten their careers.
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.
You can learn a lot about marketing by listening to broadcast radio or streaming audio. You can learn even more by noticing when you’re not listening. A clear signal and music or talk you like to hear will keep you tuned in to a particular station or channel. But too much static, a connection that keeps dropping, too many ads, or programming not to your taste will overwhelm the signal, and all you’ll hear is noise. That’s when you’ll tune out. Which is pretty much the same way that our prospective clients react to our marketing messages.
It seems that a considerable amount of marketing and sales advice to self-employed professionals is aimed at extroverts. “Go to networking events and meet new people,” the authorities say. “Speak in front of groups.” “Call people up and chat with them.”
If you are an introvert, these experts might as well be telling you to fly to the moon. What if you don’t enjoy public gatherings, dislike being the center of attention, and hate to call strangers on the phone? Can you still do well at personal marketing?
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.
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.
“But how do I get them to trust me if they don’t know me?” my client asked.
“Exactly,” I replied. “They have to get to know you in order to trust you. Either that, or they need to be referred to you by someone they know and trust already.”
Client: “So, you’re telling me that making cold calls and running ads are a waste of time and money?”
Me: “Yes. Unless you use those tactics to open the door to your prospective clients getting to know and trust you. If you expect to move from a call or an ad to a quick sale, you’ll be disappointed.”
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.
Do you find sales and marketing to often be a struggle? It doesn’t have to be that way. The most successful professionals make it look easy because they have found a way to market themselves that is effortless. Perhaps you have tried to copy what those successful people were doing, and it didn’t work for you. Here’s why.
Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You have to find your own unique path, the one that works best for you and your business. To make marketing and selling easy, that path needs to be the one where you will encounter the least resistance — both from the marketplace and from inside yourself.
My clients often ask me to help figure out what’s wrong with their marketing. The first question I ask is how much marketing they’ve been doing, since many failures have more to do with quantity than quality. But assuming you’ve been sufficiently active at promoting yourself, here are some other ways in which your marketing might need fixing.
There are three areas you should examine — the package of services you are offering, your marketing strategies, and your sales methods. In order to market and sell effectively, your package of services should meet the following requirements: