My mentor was despairing of me. In my coaching session, he was helping me through my sales technique. I was being particularly dim, although I’m sure it was as a result of the resistance I felt inside whenever “selling” was an activity I had to contemplate. I think he gave up on me when I told him that “I don’t like selling, and I don’t want to sell, and I know that’s a contradiction when I am building up my own business, but it’s the truth.” I am sure he wanted to tell me to go get a job, but he didn’t; far too knowledgeable and professional for that.
After that particular session, I really did contemplate my future. How could I expect to sell my services and products, if it was an activity I didn’t like? When I dug a little further, I realized I felt I had something valuable enough that people would want, and they would be searching for. Wouldn’t they?
I am not a professional at sales as I’m sure anyone who is can identify from the above paragraphs; in fact, there are probably lots of people with businesses who read this who will be shaking their heads at my naivety. But even after my soul searching, I realized I was on to something.
First, the idea of selling someone a service or product I provided that they did not really want was abhorrent to me. I realize, of course, there are times when you have something very useful to offer, but people don’t realize it; but to be honest, I think they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Sales models, fascinating though they are, leave me cold. For example, offering someone a limited and time-bound reduction is great as long as it really is limited and time-bound. I am thinking of popular sofa manufacturers who have a “limited sale” every season; their model is to spread the cost over a number of years, thus ensuring that even though people will largely buy in sale time, they have a continuous stream of income, thus limiting the seasonal highs and lows.
But despite the odds, I am able to sell; in fact a large part of my business is not even advertised. I have developed a number of clients through word of mouth. I haven’t even asked for referrals, they simply have come to me, been so enthused by how I can help, that they’ve passed the message on.
There are 3 things I did to achieve this unexpected success. The activities were not thought out, and evolved themselves. In hindsight I can see how they were successful, but when I undertook them, I was simply doing what came naturally to me.
- Give your services for free until you can demonstrate added value, and do the best you can. I carried out some work for someone else with no expectation of reward. I wanted to find out how I could carry out the services I provided with a “real live” customer to see if it was a feasible model. It was and was ultimately so successful; the client rang me up and asked when they could buy it for real.
- Share the secrets of your successful strategy. I shared my success with my mastermind group. They were so impressed, even though I had told them step by step how to deliver my strategy, and they knew the theory of the “how”; they recognized that my experience meant I could deliver quickly and with authority, and so I acquired clients.
- Go the extra mile. It is amazing how naturally I want to do my absolute best. My clients know I will pull out the stops for them, where I can. Every week, I think about what I can do to help them more. Every week, they become more and more successful and we support them fully to do so.
I have always managed to trust my instincts, and I believe my reluctance to learn a “sales technique,” while possibly eliminating me from being an accomplished salesperson, helped me find another way. And while I still need to work on that sales technique; instead of selling, I’d rather be showing, and if you are in the fortunate position to be able to do that, then go for it.
Christina Lattimer helps leaders develop self-mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance. She collaborates with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience. Connect with Christina on Twitter and Google+.
photo credit: Simon Greig (xrrr)