My clients come to me because they need help with sales. The problem can be identified anywhere in the sales lifecycle. Maybe the forecast is off. Maybe the pipeline is dry. Often there is a problem with their #1 sales person--Themselves!
Business owners are proud of how they got started and for good reason! Starting a business takes courage, and ideas, and chutzpah! So why aren’t business owners enthusiastic about selling?
Business owners excel at telling people the story of their business – how it got started, why it is the best, plans for the future, why they are the best. Business owners do not always excel at making sure that they’ve SOLD!
The main challenge is that while a lot of business owners know how to connect with others, they don’t always connect the dots between making business connections and utilizing those connections to make a direct impact on their business--a sale. I’m on a mission to change that with one simple sales trick: Put your hand out.
What are you selling?
People often assume that, like the song says, “I was born this way,” meaning born to do sales. However, being good at sales is not some kind of mythical trait granted to only a few lucky individuals.
Being good at sales is a matter of believing in what you are selling, knowing that you are selling in every (business) interaction, and asking for the business. (I won’t mention the dreaded word “practice.” Not in this article, anyway!)
When I talk to business owners (and salespeople) who have trouble closing sales, the commonality is that they have trouble identifying with being a “salesperson,” with whatever the perceptions are that come along with that title. And of course, those perceptions are typically negative in their minds.
Do yourself a favor and get the picture of the used car salesman out of your mind now because, like magic, once you own the idea that you are in sales, it frees you up to sell.
Let’s look at some typical business interactions and consider how you can learn to own these situations:
1. Sales pitch to a new client.
If anything I’ve said above resonates with you, chances are the sales pitch presentation is the one time when you allow yourself to be your most “salesy” self. Like an actor getting into character, you put on your best Steve Jobs or Mary Kay impression and get geared up to sell.
Compartmentalizing sales in this way can feel safe, especially for introverts (and many entrepreneurs are introverts). So, it’s a rational thing to do. However, it also creates a lot of extra stress and pressure around the sale, and unless you sell Mary Kay or Apple products, you may be missing the point of the exercise.
If you have trouble closing the sale during these pitches, it could be because you put on a persona, and in doing so, come off as Eddie Haskell, in lieu of the awesome business owner you are!
Own it: Rather than putting this undue pressure on yourself, go into these sales pitch presentations with the goal of selling yourself. You already have the meeting, so no pressure there. You are the expert showing off your expertise. All you have to do is be true to yourself and your product and walk them through what they need to do to get it for themselves.
2. Impromptu sales pitch during networking events.
There’s no doubt that networking events can make for some of the most awkward business conversations possible. On the flip side of that, they can also make for some of the BEST business conversations possible!
There are three types of people (not unlike the three types of kids you see at a middle school dance) at these events. Some are persistent! They have the goal to meet everyone and get all the business cards they can, for later follow up. Don’t expect a good conversation, they have other business cards to collect.
Others are more reserved and don’t utilize networking as a sales opportunity. You can identify them by the fact that they don’t make eye contact, so they won’t have to listen to someone else pitch them something. Or heaven forbid, you want to know more about their business. They are here to meet the goal of talking about this event tomorrow (and maybe winning the door prize).
The third group is where you want to be. These people are looking forward to this opportunity! They have come to this event with their priorities straight. For them, this isn’t a high-pressure sales situation or a forced social event. It’s a chance to practice their elevator speech, seize the opportunity to make an impromptu pitch, and close some business if the opportunity arises.
Own it: Rather than dreading networking events or thinking they are simply a way to fill up your business card file, figure out what you are selling and use it to create the energy you need to be awesome. Going to a networking event without a sales plan is simply a wasted opportunity to make a sale.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to sell one of your products or services to make the event a success. For example, this is a great chance to sell others on giving you a lead or a referral over cheese and crackers.
3. Every conversation in a business context is a sales conversation.
From breakfast meetings with other entrepreneurs, to chatting with someone you meet at your niece’s bat mitzvah, every time someone asks, “So what do you do?” is an opening for you to make a sale.
If you can talk about your company with pride, but you feel uncomfortable when you imagine selling yourself between handing out mazel tov’s, you have to ask yourself why. What is the point of owning your own business if not to sell (i.e., make money)?
Own it: If you take nothing else from this blog post, take the idea that sales can be a way of life, even if you don’t identify as a “salesperson.” Regardless of whether your business is marketing or manufacturing, as the owner you are the #1 salesperson. So, ask yourself what characteristics you would look for if you were hiring a head of sales, then manifest those characteristics in yourself.
Time for a Sales UpRising
Negative perceptions of sales and salespeople comes from traditional sales force training and truly, just old ideas about sales. The conventional wisdom is that success in sales requires pressuring people to buy a product; following just the right focus group tested script; and not taking “no” for an answer, at all costs. At Sales UpRising, we see sales in a different way.
On Friday, I have the opportunity to speak to a group of amazing business owners through Nova Women’s Network about this very topic. There’s still time to register. Reserve your seat today and come learn the ONLY thing you need to boost sales immediately. Can you think of a better way to spend lunchtime on a Friday? I can’t!