Updated: Jun 15, 2018
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and independent professionals who are having problems generating good and consistent revenue, and when we get into the conversation about WHY, some pretty consistent language shows up. "Selling makes me feel sort of sleazy", "I hate it when I think someone is trying to flog me something", "I'm quite shy, and I feel really cheap when I have to sell, but I have to so I grin and bear it". Another mindset shows up as well, "I put way too much time in having lunch with people I don't even like, and then it doesn't even turn into a billable work", "I don't have any more time to waste on sales".
When you are a professional sales person, you are selling something that you didn't create. You hopefully believe in what it is that you are selling, and are confident that it's going to deliver value for your customer. But fundamentally, if you find out that the product or service is less than great, you can just move on and sell something else. It might be an inconvenience and slow down your earnings, but there is no reason why it should impact your sense of self worth. You tried, it didn't work, you moved on, you succeeded with something else, applause all around.
If you're an entrepreneur, small business owner or independent professional, it's very different. When a sale doesn't happen, it really CAN impact your self esteem. A prospect didn't buy because they didn't think YOU were good enough, or they believe that the idea you've invested heavily in doesn't make sense. That actually hurts. You are never going to talk to them again, they are plainly stupid, and you wish them every ill you can imagine, they screwed you over dammit!. But that isn't really what happened. They said no, and saying no is just fine.
However, people who haven't done a lot of selling can take that 'no' really personally, and if you're one of those people, selling quickly becomes a misery that must be endured. As a result, you endlessly sell to the same people, you get stuck into a client and never leave, and you live in a state of anxiety about what will happen if your one or two key clients decide they don't need your services anymore. You overdeliver to avoid this happening, further entrenching you in those relationships, and shutting you out of the market. You end up working harder then you ever did when you were an employee, and you aren't having fun anymore. Those job boards are looking very appealing...
You don't have to suffer like this though. This is an easy problem to fix. Firstly, a head shift around what you consider sales to be is necessary. You are offering your prospects and customers an opportunity to engage with the person who is best equipped to solve their problem, show them a better way and generally rock their world. That person is YOU! You might not feel like that person right now, but you do need to get yourself there in order to make your 'indie' life work.
Secondly, sales is a process, and if you don't have a great understanding of both the process and the predictive indicators which are critical to guiding that process, you are throwing spaghetti at the wall. Stop, step back, and design what your sales process looks like. Get some help to understand what might not be working, determine what will be a good outcome for you, and make your sales process support your goals, the revenue ones of course, but also the life style, social and mental health ones too! Take a look at the model below. This abbreviated model represents how we move through our competency levels as we learn new skills. If you don't have the supports on the left, you won't execute comfortably and reliably.
Thirdly, be honest with yourself. I've worked with lots and lots of different professionals across multiple industries, and not a single one of them is great at everything. You might not need to be great at selling, but you will be a lot more successful if you can execute the basics, at least until you can hire someone who is a sales master and take care of it for you. There are lots of options open to you, so get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for a one on one sales design conversation.