Written by Karen D. Swim, Photo:© Wolfgang Amri | Dreamstime.com
For many non-sales professionals, the mention of salesperson is synonomous with manipulative money-grubber to be resisted at all costs. So, it comes as no surprise to me that small business owners and freelancers cringe at the thought of “selling” their services.
My background in sales management has proven valuable in my professional and personal life. As a business owner, it is an area in which I am extremely comfortable and I love demystifying the process for those new to selling.
- Sales is not manipulation. The object of the sales process is not to twist your prospect’s arm into buying something they neither want or need. A sales person uncovers needs and finds solutions, making them more matchmaker than manipulator. Remember that you are building a relationship with a future client, and the sales process establishes a good foundation.
- It is a numbers game. It’s true selling is all about the numbers. You have to generate a certain amount of leads to get a certain number of prospects to make a certain number of presentations to get a certain number of new clients. The numbers may vary with industry and your level of expertise but the bottom line is you must work the numbers.
- Keep your pipeline full. You should always have a steady flow of leads, and sales in progress. A big mistake that new freelancers and business owners make is to neglect sales when things are busy. You should spend time selling every business day. I try to set aside a minimum of one hour per day and one day per week I may spend 4-6 hours on sales activities.
- Two ears, one mouth. The old adage says that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Sales is all about listening. People will tell you exactly what they want and need if you will listen. Ask questions, and take notes. When they’ve discussed their needs, validate what they said by repeating it, taking note of any adjustments they make. You now have a blueprint of their problem and can give them a solution tailor made to their needs.
- Don’t fear objections. Objections are part of the sales process. List the most common objections and overcome them in your presentation before they are asked. Objections are not an end to the sales process but simply an opportunity to provide more information and dig deeper into your prospect’s needs. Answering objections effectively will strengthen your relationship with your potential client.
The sales process is not limited to business owners or freelancers. As an employee you may sell your ideas to your colleagues or boss. Job seekers must sell their unique value in the market place. Everyone can benefit from understanding more about the sales process.
Are you comfortable with selling? What tips have worked for you? Share freely in the comments.