One thing I have become aware of and hear quite frequently is that when fear creeps in, we feel paralyzed. When working with many entrepreneurs, this thought is resounding.
Because my work is built upon interacting and connecting with many people, I have begun to notice patterns. One of the biggest fears that I hear from entrepreneurs is the fear of selling. However, if we don’t “sell” ourselves, our brand, what we stand for, then no one else will buy into what we are doing. In order to succeed and thrive in the entrepreneurial world today, it is a prerequisite to be able to talk freely about yourself, your skills, and why someone should be interested in those skills.
When I think about sales, I look at it from a different angle. Every time I step out into the world to introduce myself and my work to whatever platform it may be (i.e. corporations, schools, social service organizations, families, etc.), I look at creating relationships, not selling my brand. I do believe I came into this world with innate abilities to market myself or a product I am selling. But everyone can do this; it is as simple as learning about others. When you can alter your mindset to view marketing as a form of learning, asking, and growing your understanding of others rather than preaching, then you have something to talk about and build your case upon.
I find myself fairly quiet on a sales call. I ask a few pointed questions that help me understand the business, school, individual, or organization’s mission, challenges, and interests. This is how we learn and tailor our marketing approach to the individual or organization, not us.
Have you ever gone into a car dealer looking for a white SUV and the representative from the dealership begins to tell you all about the great sale that they are running on a blue sedan? Have you ever gone into a retail store looking for a particular dress or perhaps a tie, when the sales associate infringes to tell you about the sale on shoes? This does not speak to your interest or need at all. In these aforementioned encounters, there is absolutely no focus on you (the potential client) and your interests, needs, and desires. What if the person asked what you are interested in first, and then some follow up questions to meet you where you are?
Sales are really about relationship building. We build these relationships by understanding the other so that we can see if partnering or presenting what we have to offer is even an option. We cannot sell anything without an understanding of what those in front of us are seeking. This does not mean that we don’t have ideas and thoughts to present, but we do not share those until we have a very clear concept and understanding of our audience.
Relationship building is like developing friendships. We must create a rapport, get to know one another, create a mutual sharing platform, and develop trust in one another.
What holds you back? Where do you struggle in the process? Are you nervous about approaching and asking for the business you desire?