I work freelance and I talk with a lot of people who often tell me “I hate sales.” No doubt. There are very few people who actually enjoy it. But sometimes you gotta do it. Here’s the most common barriers people put up when it comes to selling.
I don’t know where to start.
I don’t know what to say when I sell. I don’t have a pitch.
Nobody has a sales pitch right off the bat; you have to develop one and practice it! I highly recommend you partner up with another salesperson and practice selling to each other. Give each other tough questions to answer. Remember, it only feels difficult the first 2-3 times you make a sales pitch. After that, you’ll be able to make a sales pitch in your sleep.
Go to LinkedIn and use the “people you may know” feature and the email search feature to add the people you already know. Trust me, you already know lots and lots of people. You just can’t think of them right now. But when you look at them in a list, you’ll figure out who to approach. I especially like hotels and restaurants, but I’m certainly not choosy. Lots of businesses can benefit from my knowledge in social media, and I want to help them. I still don’t know where to start.
Sell to the people you already do business with. Talk to your hairstylist, your accountant, your landscaping company, your dry cleaner, your personal trainer. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Pass out your business cards like candy. Hmm. No, wait, not like candy. Pass them out like cookies. (Business cards do actually cost money, you know). I’ve thought of all these things already. I still don’t have anyone to approach.
Alright, you’re going to have to do this Girl-Scout-Cookie style: give a bunch of business cards to your parents, best friends, siblings, or spouse(s) and tell them you’re looking for clients. Remember to treat them to lunch if they refer a client to you! I don’t think the people that I want to approach have any extra money for [the services I offer].
Big mistake. Don’t make the mistake of assessing a company’s financial situation from the outside. In my case, there are businesses that love social media and businesses that want to do all their social media for free, and how much money they have has nothing to do with it. You never know who’s going to be interested. What’s the worst that can happen? They politely decline and you’ve wasted an hour? That’s not a big deal. Plus remember this: the “No” you get today could become a “Yes” in three months. So stay in touch. I’m too nervous.
Go to networking events with a friend or fellow salesperson. Once you get warmed up, you’ll find you can’t stop talking with people.
I feel like I look desperate.
That desperate feeling will keep you from re-connecting with potential clients. That feeling will stop you from calling or emailing them because you haven’t heard from them in a week. Ignore that feeling! There is nothing desperate about making a living. Your potential clients are busy people. You have to stay on top of their minds. And if you’re getting nowhere with them, or if you’ve finally scheduled a meeting and they still turn you down, then now is your chance to be a class act and show how professional you are. Be gracious, thank them for their time, tell them that you’ll periodically be in touch, and stay in touch. They’ll remember you in a couple of months as being professional and persistent, and that’s when they’ll come back. And then, by that point, will you care how “desperate” you looked? Nope, because you’ll have made a sale. I feel like I’m annoying people or imposing on them.
Let’s get one thing clear about sales: you ARE imposing on people (being annoying, however, is optional). But it’s okay to impose upon people. Seriously. Don’t feel bad. The best salespeople in the world get rejected over and over, but what makes them great salespeople is that they just keep going. And don’t think that the ability to handle rejection or the ability to impose on people is a innate character trait. It’s not. It’s a skill, an emotional skill at that. People who never have to sell are the unluckiest people in the world, because they become emotionally stunted and fear rejection at every turn. They gladly accept mediocrity and security, not knowing that they’ve signed up for stagnancy and anxiety. Be happy! You’re not one of these people.
You will land clients. You can make a living. But only if you start thinking smarter about who’s in your network and who you can contact. And only if you dig deep and be confident in yourself. You can do this.