I recently attended a weekend conference on sales offered by the National Speakers Association (NSA). As incoming president, I attend all of the events even when the topic is not something to which I am particularly drawn. Sales is not a topic to which I’m particularly drawn.
You may ask, “Ron, as an entrepreneur, why aren’t you interested in sales?”
Thank you for asking.
Well, quite honestly, I love the end of the sale. The part where someone wants to pay me for speaking at their event. I love speaking. And I love getting money for it. I just don’t like the in-between process where we have to talk about it.
Here’s an example of my first sale back in the early 1990’s:
“Ron, we’d like you to speak at our conference.”
“That’s great. I charge $750.”
“We can only pay you a dollar.”
Alright, it wasn’t a dollar but you get my point. As a former hospice social worker, I wasn’t used to selling myself. In fact, as a social worker, I was trained in un-self-promotion. Oh sure, we were taught the value of self disclosure as a way to get in touch with our emotions but that did not involve selling the value of what we did. And in my current business, where I’m selling me, the value gets confusing. As a result, I’m not good at selling value but I can disclose dysfunctional personal issues with anyone. It’s just not so good for sales.
So, I attended the conference in my official role as incoming president of NSA but not expecting that I would use anything I heard.
But wow, was I pleasantly surprised.
Not only were the speakers outstanding, the content was compelling. I realized that I must change my attitude about sales. Not only do I need to embrace the art of selling, I need to embrace the value of me and my services.
Suzanne Bates and Mike Staver, seasoned sales people, were the chairs of the lab. They brilliantly facilitated the event. Alan Weiss, Jill Konrath, Kendra Lee, Connie Dieken, Doug Devitre, and Mark Hunter were the faculty and they shared their expertise by showing us a variety of ways to approach sales. I am grateful to all of them for generously sharing their knowledge with us.
So, what did I learn?
Thank you for asking.
Here are my top five tips. Hopefully, they will help you as well.
- Understand my expertise and then attract clients with compelling content focused on that particular expertise through blogs, articles, columns, books, etc.
- Seek to understand my clients’ needs before trying to sell them my services.
- When introducing myself to new prospects, don’t spew endless amounts of chatter about me and my services, but instead, show them how I can help them.
- Use the best of me and my personality to connect with people. Don’t try to be something I’m not.
- Build relationships instead of selling. By creating relationships, I can develop more ways to help clients.
Am I now a sales genius? No. In fact my friend and mentor Larry Winget calls me a sales weenie. But I’m learning and before long, I hope to be better, perhaps a sales burger.