There was a time when I hated selling.
I Abhorred it.
I would think, “That’s what other people do. Isn’t it?” as I was accosted by a clothing store salesperson or received yet another spam email.
And then it all changed.
I learned to love selling. Even when I don’t.
Before I get to that, let’s be very clear: we all sell something.
If you are a business owner, you are selling your vision, motivating your team – maybe even direct selling to customers. You might not call yourself a “salesperson”, but you are selling.
And let’s be also very clear about this: embracing selling can open new doors.
Are you selling?
When I entered the world of public speaking, work sort of came to me. I had learned about blogging and email marketing and cobbled together a pretty packed calendar every year.
I wasn’t so much selling as receiving calls. A prospect would have found my writing or got a referral. All I had to do was ask some questions, add a price and send an invoice.
That’s not selling.
The act of selling is all about identifying a problem, offering a better solution, reaching out to your market, and charging a price to solve that problem.
Do you know how to sell?
When I started BlogWorks, a blog writing service, it was easy to get customers because, well, I didn’t need them. My speaking business was at full throttle, and the token income from BlogWorks was nice but a side project.
Fast forward to early 2020, and not only was I intentionally winding down my speaking business, but the pandemic eraser promptly removed any remaining bookings off my calendar.
I turned to BlogWorks to replace my revenue.
I started by hiring a salesperson.
It didn’t work.
After my second failed attempt at avoiding the inevitable, it dawned on me that it’s challenging to outsource something if you don’t know what you’re doing.
And I didn’t know how to sell my own company.
Thanks to the new pandemic economy, I concluded that a new salesperson was not only unaffordable but a lazy way of avoiding the inevitability of selling my own shit.
At the end of this piece, I’ll share some results of my selling adventure. Before that, here is my not-so-secret formula to selling success.
1. Be proud
My first lesson in selling was all about getting into the right mindset.
Starting my week with an open calendar, no appointments, and revenues sloping in the wrong direction is not a great way to get in the right mindset.
I’ve always known that when I feel confident – on top of my game – and proud of what I was offering, then selling was natural, easy, and – more often than not – surprisingly successful.
I needed to manufacture that feeling.
I set up daily check-ins with my team (I have one full-time manager and eight contracted writers and support staff). I reached out to clients for testimonials. It was uplifting to read the (often long) feedback and praise from our clients who rely on our service to keep their blog active and pulling in leads.
I had pride.
2. Add urgency
I also needed urgency. I suspected that if I had limited time, prospects might value it more.
So, rather than a whole week for selling, I changed the setting on my calendar to 5 hours a day, 4 days a week. Adding in my gym or other workouts and non-work meetings, I reduced my availability by another 6-8 hours, leaving me with about 10-12 hours of in-the-saddle selling.
I had urgency.
3. Get in the conversation
Many moons ago, my brother Dan and I would load up our old Dodge van with a raft, a folding table with large (scary) photographs of rafts standing on end in swirling whitewater to the Cow Palace in San Francisco to fill our next season with new customers.
It was a training ground for selling.
The first day I would be rusty – missing cues, going off on tangents, not asking for the sale. The second day I was more focused; I could qualify prospects faster – sales were adding up. Each conversation helped me ask better questions, refine my offering and close more deals.
Here’s the take-away.
If you want more sales, don’t sit in your home office hoping for a sale – get into conversation and practice selling.
My partner, Donna, is leveraging her career as an HR manager into a coaching business. She invites people to have free 15-minute “discovery calls” to learn about their work struggles and see if there’s a fit for her coaching.
She is in the conversation and practicing selling.
4. Ask for the sale
This is going to seem so slap-on-the-forehead simple you might want to skip ahead.
Here’s what I would do…
After all the work to find the prospect, get on a call, learn their needs and identify that we are a great solution, I would wrap up with a wet-noodle close like, “Well, I enjoyed our call and let me know if there’s any way I can help.”
A mentor once reminded me that when you sell, you are offering a gift–the gift of solving a problem. So, why not ask if they would like that gift?
It took a lot of practice (not to mention failed phone calls) to start asking for the sale. At the very least, we book the next call.
It’s so simple. And you must do it.
I love selling
With my new love of selling, the last 5 months have been on a tear.
My goal was to add 2 new clients per week. More than once, we exceeded that target. Monthly revenues (our clients pay monthly) have more than doubled while gross margin (the part of sales I get to see) has grown from 30% to 70%.
I now love selling. Even on the days when I’d rather be pulling weeds out of our backyard, I like the challenge of selling.
I love selling because I am solving problems that I’m good at solving.
What about you?
Are you ready to solve problems?
The formula is this:
- Be proud
- Add urgency
- Get in the conversation
- Ask for the sale
Like most things in business, it’s all about learning the routine, exercising the muscle, and getting in the reps.
The bonus is that it’s also profitable.
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