by Jessi Burg
Starting and growing a business is all about making sales. Without sales, you have no revenue, and without revenue, you have no business. But making sales often feels awkward, especially for first time entrepreneurs with no sales experience.
So, how do successful entrepreneurs overcome the awkwardness, embrace the sale, and get paid? Keep reading for a few ideas on how to ask for a sale, all without being a pest.
Know your ideal client.
This one may sound obvious, but if you don’t know who your ideal clients are, you can’t market and sell to them properly. Spend some time thinking about the consumers of your product, and where they make purchases. That’s where you want to be marketing your product. You’ll have better luck making sales if you’re interacting with the people who will buy from you.
Understand what sets you apart from the competition.
You will want to understand exactly how your client will benefit from your product or service, as opposed to the competition’s. In some cases, this might be easy.
When Rebecca Benedict’s business It’s in the Little Things HandyClean launched this year, they were the only combined handyperson and cleaning service in Aurora, CO. Benedict could market herself as a one-stop-shop for anyone needing help in multiple areas of their house.
When potential clients scheduled an estimate for her services, she provided examples of how a combined service was better than house cleaning alone, such as repairing a running toilet they noticed while cleaning the bathroom.
If there isn’t an obvious difference between you and your competitors, find out why your current clients hired you. Then you can share specific information with any potential clients about why people like working with you.
Know your product or service and how it can help.
Sales is all about listening to a client’s needs. When a potential client expresses that they’re looking for a solution to a problem, you want to be able to tell them exactly how you can solve it. You also want to be able to weed out clients that won’t be a good fit.
Say you run a catering business. Someone calls asking if you cater for weddings, so you check that it’s within your geographical range and that it matches the event size you work with. The next thing you want to ask is what they’re looking for in a catering company.
Determine if your company fits those needs. If the client wants a service that you don’t offer, you can end the conversation there without investing more of your time into the sale. Asking questions helps establish trust, which leads to sales.
Embrace the awkward.
When you start a business, your success will be determined by your ability to pick up new skills, which isn’t always easy and can feel awkward. When sales are involved, there’s even more pressure to feel confident in your process.
This is hard for business owners who are introverts or who don’t have previous sales experience. Be patient with yourself – you’re going to make mistakes, and it’s going to feel awkward. Trust the process!
Start with your friends and family.
They already love you and want you to succeed. Practice your pitch, or how you talk about your business in conversation. If any of them are thinking about getting work done in your field, talk through the project with them. Even if they’re not ready to hire anyone, you’ll be able to practice and adjust in a low pressure setting.
Don’t fixate on your failures.
You’re going to get rejected sometimes. Running a business is a marathon of being told “no” over and over again. Sometimes you aren’t the right fit for a client, or maybe they chose the competition.
In most businesses, at least 50% of your leads won’t result in an actual sale. For some industries, that ratio is even higher. A successful financial planner who focuses on financial education might only convert about 20% of her potential clients into paying clients, but those clients are lifelong clients.
Any business is a learning experience, whether it’s your first business or your fifth. Honing your sales process allows you to focus on the clients you want.
If you need additional help crafting your pitch or finding a practice partner, check out our twice weekly virtual co-working sessions. For a breakdown of exactly how to identify and market to your ideal clients, check out our Sales and Marketing course. All information is available below!
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