In my recent blog post Even the Closed door is a blessing, I shared about how my husband had showed me the truth of that statement.
It’s something I’ve had to internalise because those of you in business know about this- it’s a skill that’s taken me a long time to even begin to acquire: Sales.
The most successful entrepreneurs are generally those who are also (really!) good at sales.
This was terrible news for me because I couldn’t sell ice to parched people in the desert!
For years, I’d been praying for a person who would take-over the sales role in my project- because I sucked at it! And the very thought of having to pick up the phone to approach a potential client made my blood curdle!
It was terrifying and quite frankly I hated it! Absolutely loathed it with every fibre of my being.
Until I learned two, well actually three, things:
1. To not take No as rejection.
2. To not take No’s personally and
3. Learn to tell my story not sell a service
The third made the first two very easy.
Ooooh and then there was a fourth which a Sales Executive was kind enough to share with me- and THIS one is the key that has opened doors I never thought I could knock on:
4. Solve a problem!
This Sales Exec told me, “Find their problem. Tell them how you plan to solve it. I promise you- even if they don’t have the money for your solution, they’ll find the money!”
That advice has done me worlds of good I cannot even begin to tell you about!
You see, for the longest time
the “business” part of my project was something I really didn’t connect with.
I enjoyed the project itself- but the money side of things made me ill. Like literally.
I had read a gazillion articles on “kicking butt” in sales- bought a number of books including copies of: Words that Sell, More Words that Sell and Phrases that Sell.
I frantically devoured my mentor’s highly recommended The Irresistible Offer which I thought would turn me into a star seller overnight…
I even got myself the highly acclaimed Thou Shall Prosper…
All great reads- but none of them helped me get out of my inability to sell!
Until I changed.
The first change was changing the connection I had with what I was doing.
It was a hard realisation but I came to the point where I realised that the main reason I struggled to sell what I was selling was, I didn’t really believe in it.
My commitment to it was halfhearted because, as I later came to terms with: what I was selling was NOT a service I truly wanted to offer. I could do it- I was good at it- but it wasn’t really my thing.
Giving up what I was doing at the time was hard.
Really really hard. Because I’d invested so much into it-
But I had to make a decision: hang onto something that was destroying every cell in my soul- or start over, in something I knew and had always known, I was supposed to be doing.
I can’t share with you here how devastated I was making this decision- but I made it.
Fast forward to me doing what I’d always wanted to do but had quit doing because it’d become too hard… long story- but I delved back into it.
To make it happen I needed money. To get the money I needed buy-in from people.
That meant selling!
But this time my strategy was different- I was going to tell my story. And I would only tell it to people who I felt strongly would buy-into what I was sharing.
Secondly I was not going to take No’s personally. And I was not going to see them as rejection of either me or my idea.
This was business. Period.
Also, I made the decision to recover quickly from a No.
Get a No, thank the person for their time and instantly move onto my next prospect.
Now, I L O V E what I’m doing! All of it. I love the project- I even enjoy the selling part.
Because I believe with all my heart that what I’m selling matters- that it WILL change lives and everyone involved in this project will win. I believe that with all of my being. The conviction is so complete that it’s really hard to take No’s as rejection. I see them as part of the process.
Part of the story of my journey.
It’s still hard sometimes and it does get frustrating- but I understand what the game is about now- I respect it and I’m willing to play and give it all I’ve got. Because I believe in it. Whole-heartedly.
(This project I’m talking about is not The Beautiful Series Event– I’ll share more in due course).
For now though, whatever project you’re involved in, whether it’s a business or non-profit- you’re going to have to do some selling. In fact, that’s probably where most of your time will go- Especially if you’re starting out.
You might not call it “selling”- for non-profits you might call it “giving” but it’s all the same. People have to part with their money.
Sales, is not dirty, it’s not ugly and it’s definitely not dishonourable.
I used to see sales people as dodgy, greasy, two-faced liars who couldn’t tell the truth even if they (really really) tried.
It’s hard to be something you loathe so passionately!
One of the things I had to debunk was how I viewed sales people. Because an enormous part of making my project work was having to become a brilliant sales person. I couldn’t be that if I had such a twisted view of sales persons!
If you’re an entrepreneur or have started a non-profit and you’re struggling to make or raise money, check how you’re viewing your sales strategy.
Before you rush out to buy sales books ask yourself:
- Do I believe in what I’m selling?
- What is my view of sales and/or sales people?
- Who are the people most likely to buy what I’m selling?
- How can I connect with those people in ways that truly matter and benefit them?
If you’re going to do anything worthwhile on this planet- you’re going to need money. That money doesn’t come in the mail- you have to get it- the only way to get it is in exchange of something you offer.
I’ve just touched the very tip of this iceberg- I’m still learning- and there’s still TONS more to learn.
But if I, as pathetic as I’d been in sales, could start to get a grip on this thing- I really and truly believe anyone can.