Small business owners and especially solo entrepreneurs will have to make sales for the purpose of generating new business. Selling created fear in me from an early age when I had to ask shoppers at the local store to buy sub sandwiches to raise money for our Little League baseball team. When I had the opportunity to work on my own I had to overcome this fear and begin making sales.
Selling as a Solution
I had to shift my attitude to understand that selling wasn't about bothering people. Instead, selling is identifying a need and presenting a solution to that problem. When I co-founded a boutique marketing company we sought clients who wanted greater exposure for products and services. A solution I offered was creating websites, brochures, and email newsletters.
The more I saw the benefits that clients received from what I offered, the less I began to fear selling and the more I wanted to network and find new prospective clients.
Selling as a Profession
Later, I took a position with Home Depot to sell new roofs to customers. This meant going into homes, making a presentation, and then within two hours asking for an order that I knew was going to be much higher than the competition.
I then looked at sales as a profession with the opportunity to become a high-income earner. I listened to audio programs from Tom Peters and learned sales techniques in books like Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale. I made a commitment to study sales as a profession and take pride in my work.
Selling as an Assessment
A reason selling struck fear in me was I believed it was my burden to strike up a conversation and ask someone to make a decision to buy a product or service.
However, I learned how to ask assessment questions to have the other person do the talking. Asking questions and listening to the answers can provide a natural bridge for finding a need. And that's when a conversation that can lead to a sale can truly take place. The dialogue is then natural and not forced. If I have a solution for the person speaking with me I can then ask them, "I hear what you're saying. Perhaps I can help. Would you mind if I gave you more information?"
Assessment questions I asked when visiting a customer's home to potentially sell a roof included "what prompted you to call me out today?" and "how long have you been thinking about this project?"
The question and answer format removes my burden, helps me build rapport, and gives me a posture of confidence.
Selling as a Relationship
I like making friends. The stereotype of salespeople as pushy and uncaring ran counter to my personality. The more I read about selling and listened to effective techniques then the more I saw sales as a way to show genuine care and concern for the other person.
If I truly believe in a product or service I am selling and if I believe I can help the person I'm speaking with, then I'm not going to hesitate to offer them a solution. It's become second nature to take this position during business mixers and I've learned to apply it during cold calls.
I'll ask about business challenges and how overcoming those challenges will improve their personal and professional life. I'll ask to schedule an appointment to sit down and have a further discussion.
Since sales gives me a chance to build relationships, solve problems, and meet needs it is no longer a burden. This mindset has eliminated my fear associated with selling.
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