Former Professor Moves to the Head of the Class Following Simple Sales Strategy

Many entrepreneurs find themselves starting a business when they are ready to leave one career and start another. They also find that the sales strategy that worked in the previous career doesn’t work in the new career. This is the story of an entrepreneur who learned this lesson the hard way.

Meet Emily. Emily is a rogue academic who also happens to be one of my favorite clients. She had been teaching philosophy to college students in Myrtle Beach when she realized no matter how hard she worked to engage her students, Socrates could never compete with Chewbacca Mom.

Now she is reinventing herself as a blogger, copywriter, and web content creator for small business owners. Her current clients seem to appreciate her talents more than her previous clients, which might be because she doesn’t (usually) grade her current clients’ work.

A workshop is not a sales strategy.

When you make a big career change, it’s natural to cling to what’s familiar. Emily is familiar with teaching, so she figured doing a workshop teaching small business owners how to start blogging would be a great way to get sales leads and sell her services.

And she’s right that workshops CAN be a great way to sell yourself, especially if you are in a service-based industry. But what Emily didn’t fully realize is that a workshop is not a sales strategy in itself.

I’ll let Emily tell the rest of her story in her own words:

I offered a series of free 60-minute workshops, the most successful of which was sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce and a small business organization. About 50 small business owners showed up to the workshop. The audience was engaged, energetic, and interactive.

After the workshop, I spoke with about 6 prospects and exchanged business cards with them. They all said that they would follow up with me. I came away from the workshop feeling amazing. I just knew all I needed to do was sit back and wait for those new clients to start calling me.

I diligently wrote my follow-up email ahead of time, on Katie’s suggestion, and sent it out to all the participants after the workshop. What I didn’t do was follow up with those prospects who said they were interested in working with me. I mean, they said they would call me. They never did.

Weeks later, when I complained that my workshop was a complete failure in terms of sales, Katie asked me if I had called those who said they were interested in working with me. Like a good philosopher, I had many arguments for why I didn’t need to make those calls:

  • They don’t want me to bother them.
  • It has been too long since the workshop to follow up now.
  • I’m allergic to cold calling (okay, my actual language was probably more colorful).

Katie had answers ready. She’s heard it all. In the end, I couldn’t think of a good reason not to pick up the phone. Plus, she actually made me feel like I could do it.

Always the eager student, I did set aside my fears and call those 6 prospects. Once I got into a rhythm, it wasn’t even that hard. Everyone I spoke with said they loved the workshop (which gave me more confidence).

Some said that they had tried my blogging techniques with some success. Others referred me to friends and colleagues who have become warm leads for me to follow up with. One of those prospects has even become a new client.

I discovered that while a workshop is a great icebreaker, if you don’t reach out to those warm leads in a specific way to continue the relationship, all that hard work could be wasted. A workshop is not a sales strategy. Lesson learned.

And here’s your workshop sales strategy lesson for the day:

  1. Figure out what the sell is. As a professor, Emily had to learn how to sell education. As a copywriter who wants clients to hire her, she has to learn how to sell herself. Having great workshop content is the beginning, not the end.

  2. The name of the game is Be Proactive. When someone says they want to follow up with you, that’s great to know. It’s a greenlight. Don’t wait for them to remember they want to work with you.

  3. Pay attention to the numbers. On average 33% of people you contact will move to the next step in your sales funnel. So if you make 300 calls, you’ll get the opportunity to make 100 pitches, which will land you 30 sales. That’s if everything goes perfectly right.

Are you new to entrepreneurship and struggling to find a sales strategy that works for you? Give Katie a call. She’s not just a sales coach. She’s your sales coach.