In the winter of 1988 I had to find a solution to a big problem. The previous Fall, I had put a mortgage on our family home to start my first business and the revenue being generated was, optimistically, unreliable. In reality it was … non-existent. My husband was not happy.
How did I get the company to start generating consistent revenue?
While there were many shifts and pivots I had to make to change this situation, the most important one was … admit that I was now a salesperson.
And like many of the entrepreneurs – and salespeople – I work with throughout each year, I was not comfortable with this idea. I had a university degree; I had been a journalist for most of the previous decade. Sales was not, and never had been, on my radar.
I went into denial, tried to, quite literally, talk my way out of it by having long, rambling conversations with my prospects that never got to the point and rarely produced revenue. Until …
… I changed my perspective on sales.
What I knew to be true, and could state with great enthusiasm and passion, was that our service was of tremendous value to our prospects. We did solve an existing problem.
But that didn’t matter if our target market didn’t know we existed.
With each phone call I began to focus on only two things: 1) creating a precise, effective description of our value to each prospect; and 2) helping that prospect discover, through open-ended questions, if our value solved a problem for them.
When our value didn’t solve a problem, the call was efficient and polite, ending quickly so no one’s time was wasted. When our value did solve a problem, I made a sale.
While it took me months of fumbles and false starts to discover who I was as a salesperson, when I did, sales activities became – and continue to be – surprisingly easy.
If you find yourself in the role of reluctant salesperson, I do empathize. I encourage you to step back. Own your value; connect it to your prospects’ challenges, problems and/or desires. You’ll discover sales isn’t something to be avoided but rather embraced as a powerful way to serve.