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.
“I don’t know how to market,” one of my coaching clients said. “I hate marketing,” declared another. “The marketing thing feels so unnatural to me,” claimed a third.
My response to statements like these from my clients is to reply (gently and compassionately), “I don’t think that’s true. I think you’ve just misunderstood what marketing is, and how it works.”
When You Think You Don’t Know How to Market
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.
The number one complaint my clients and students — self-employed professionals — bring me about their marketing is that they aren’t doing enough of it. You would think this would be easy to fix. I could just tell them to spend more time marketing and selling, and that would solve their problem. But like so many other challenges in life, knowing what needs to be done doesn’t necessarily make that thing occur.
Consider losing weight, for example. If it were as simple as being told to eat less or exercise more, we would all be as thin as we wished just by deciding to make it so. Since that doesn’t happen very often; it’s clear we humans need a bit more help.
Does it seem strange to use the word love when referring to a business relationship? Substitute another word if you prefer — “like,” for example, or “respect.” However you want to express it, the point is to consider how much you care about the people you sell to — their needs, goals, desires, concerns — all the elements of their lives that might be involved in their decision about whether to buy from you.
If you don’t love your prospects, they will know it. We’ve all been sold to by someone who didn’t care about us. The salesperson who pressures us to buy a car with options we don’t need.
A desperate self-employed professional contacted me recently. “I need to get clients immediately,” she said. “I’ve been trying for months with no success, and I’m almost out of money.” When I asked her how she had been marketing herself all this time, she gave me the following list of what she had been doing:
- Attending networking events where she met people, introduced herself, and exchanged business cards
- Launched a brochure-style website describing her services
- Started a Facebook page and began posting promos for her business and links to content she found interesting
- Printed some flyers and posted them on bulletin boards around town