Let's face it. If you want your business to succeed, someone has to go out there and sell. And until you have the means to hire help, that someone is going to be you.
But selling doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, here's how four small-business owners learned to get over their fear and love selling.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Sales
Owner and creative director of design studio Float Design (@FloatDesignCo) Larissa Pickens is a good representative of how many small-business owners feel about sales.
"I used to really be terrified of it," she says. "All the things I thought of as proper sales techniques that I should be doing, like creating scarcity or pushing someone to make a decision, made me avoid calls."
But according to Ed Brzychcy, business leadership coach and founder of the consulting firm Blue Cord Management, LLC (@bluecordmgmt), that is a misconception.
"Sales is about relationships. By changing the frame from 'I am selling a product' to 'I am helping my client solve their problem,' your mindset and approach immediately change to something where positive value is exchanged in the transaction."
So remember that next time you pick up the phone or meet with a prospective client: your primary goal is to offer help.
Really Listen to Your Client
Another way to overcome your fear of selling? Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com (@MyCorporation), suggests you listen to your client. Ask them questions until you fully understand where their pain points lie.
"Do not sell before you understand," she says. "By gaining a true understanding of your clients' needs, you can better provide a solution, as opposed to closing a sale."
This approach has two big benefits:
- You will feel more confident in the solution you can offer if their problem is a good fit.
- You will be able to position the offer appropriately.
Sweeney recommends you stand in your prospects’ shoes. When she thinks about the sale from the client's perspective, she can frame her offer so they can easily see the advantages.
And if you think your solution isn’t a good fit? Pickens suggests that you to walk away – even if it means losing the sale.
"It's much better in the long run to stay focused," she says. That way you can move on to a client who really needs your service or product.
Learn how to improve your listening skills in "The Sales Strategy You Can Learn from Your Dog."
While some business owners struggle to get past the salesperson stereotype, others are like Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder and president of Geeks Chicago (@geekschicago), who used to fear sales because it's wasn’t his wheelhouse.
His tip? Practice.
"The best advice to get over any fear of sales is just keep doing it," says Tuchscherer. "With time, it becomes a part of your job."
But you also don't want to practice bad habits. For Tuchsherer, that meant reading books by some of the top tech leaders and talking to a friend with 20 years of experience in his field.
That brings us to our final tip.
Get Some Expert Help
If your network doesn't include someone with an extensive sales background, you might want to hire a business or sales coach. Pickens did and learned a useful strategy: prepare for objections.
"If there are standard [objections] you hear frequently, mention them and your solution yourself. This increases confidence and trust."
But perhaps the best part of working with a professional for Pickens was that it helped her build confidence in her own abilities. Not only did she learn that she was doing a lot of things right, but she also started to enjoy sales calls. Once the dread of doing something wrong was lifted, she says she "felt much more confident and the conversations went much more smoothly."
For more sales tips, check out "Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full with These 3 Proven Networking Strategies."
About the Contributors
Ed Brzychcy is a former US Army Infantry Staff-Sergeant with service across three combat deployments to Iraq. After his time in the military, he received his MBA from Babson College and now coaches organizational leadership and growth through his consulting company Blue Cord Management.
Larissa Pickens is owner and creative director of Float Design, a creative design studio for beauty and lifestyle brands. She has worked with a range of clients from Conde Nast and Calvin Klein to startups and individuals. She is also cofounder of Mommikin.com and MommikinJobs.com, nestled at the intersection of motherhood and creativity. She can also be seen around the web at places like Fast Company, Huffington Post, and YFS Magazine.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, an online document filing service that helps business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the United States get their start. She is a multitasking mom of two who serves on two university boards and loves to write about small business, business growth, and entrepreneurship.
Mark Tuchscherer is the cofounder and president of Geeks Chicago, a web, mobile, design, and development firm based in Chicago. Tuchscherer has over 16 years of experience in the digital space, working with clients of all sizes in many different verticals.