Independent and small business owners across industries often express difficulty in selling themselves to clients. Even for those who have been in sales positions find it difficult to make the switch when they are faced with selling their own business.
Selling is personal but we can’t take it personally. Rejection is part of the process, but that rejection is a “no” to the solutions you offer and not “no” to you as a human being.
When children are small, “No” is the word we use to indicate bad or harmful behavior. In contrast, “yes” is the word that is accompanied by smiles and perhaps even applause. It is no wonder that we find it difficult to hear “no” as an adult and not internalize it as a negative sign. Fortunately, we can move past these challenges and become a top performing sales person for our own businesses with a few simple strategies.
Change your focus. It is never fun to lose out on an opportunity. It is impossible to eliminate feelings of rejection but you can change your focus. Use the losses to increase your understanding of client needs and expectations. What did you learn in the process that can inform your next attempt? How can you sharpen your messaging and presentation? Did you successfully uncover the client’s needs? A quick debrief will help you to focus more on actions than feelings. Let every opportunity fuel the fire to do better and soon you will have more wins than losses.
Sell the brand, not the person. Solo PR pros often remark that they are the brand, but in reality, that is not wholly true. Your business brand may be personalized but you are selling solutions and the people, process and services are part of the package. There is a subtle difference but making the shift will allow you to have a little space between you and what you are selling. This does not mean that you cannot showcase your personality and company culture, but it does allow you to focus on brand value in the sales process.
Change your position. In a solo or small business, you may fulfill multiple roles, but you are always CEO. You lead the company, and talking about your company and services is something you do as the leader not because it is your functional role. We can feel out of our element and overthink it when we label ourselves as a salesperson. Functioning in your role as CEO is much more comfortable, and allows you to focus on setting and executing the vision, and having conversations with people and companies that can be helped by your offering.
Use your strengths. Many independent consultants may feel that they lack the skills to sell but that is not true. In sales, you listen far more than you talk and as a solo PR pro, you are already well trained in the art of listening. You have learned to hear what is spoken and what goes unsaid. You are also good at quickly diagnosing issues and offering solutions. These two skills are the backbone of the sales process, and so you already have what it takes to succeed!
Sell more. Like many things in life, to get better at selling, you have to do more selling. Make sales a part of your regular routine. Engage people more often to learn about their needs and learn to talk about your solutions. Practice often and you will be more comfortable when the stakes are high and you are trying to win business.
Selling yourself does not have to be hard. Your potential clients do not care if you are a natural at sales, they care about value. Your job is to clearly and confidently articulate that value to those that have a need that you can fulfill.
Do you have a tough time selling yourself? Please share your insights in the comments below or on social media using the #solopr hashtag.
For more practical insights and tips on landing clients, join us for our free webinar, “3 Essential Steps to Landing More Clients,” on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 1 pm Eastern.