As one of the oldest professions in the world, selling has done a less-than-commendable job in positioning itself. Even the sales experts have been selling the idea that “everybody’s a salesperson,” but nobody’s buying that. Sure, people call it “business development” nowadays, but who are we fooling.
And all that bad PR doesn’t encourage people in the helping profession (coaches, consultants, psychologists and the like) to sell themselves well. They’ve got qualms against the whole idea of selling their services to others. It doesn’t feel “nice” to them. The result — most independent professionals struggle to get their businesses off the ground.
I know because I used to feel that way. Thankfully, many years ago, I chose to study sales in-depth, which led me to read many books and courseware on the subject. While I don’t consider myself an expert, I know a thing or two about sales that have helped me market myself well to the small audience that I interact with.
Suppose you’re a solo entrepreneur or a helping professional. In that case, the following ruleset might help you start exploring sales methodologies and frameworks that are most suited to your work.
- Explore consultative or soulutions selling. It will force you to highlight the benefits and customise your pitch to focus purely on your clients — their needs and desires.
- Get better at asking questions. Getting curious has been the single best strategy I’ve implemented in my sales methodology. You’ve got to be genuinely interested (not interrogative) in the prospects wants and needs. And the core reason why it’s important to them.
- You have to explore what makes their wants and needs so important to them right now. Why alleviating that pain is necessary right now? What happens if they don’t do anything about it? (Coaches and consultants should feel at home while asking these questions, it’s what they do daily with their existing clients.)
- When the needs, pain points, and solution are clear to you and the client, the onus is on to you to ask them the ultimate question — “what would you like to know?” I’ve found this simple question to be far more potent than diving right into the “rules of engagement.” Let them sell themselves to buy your services instead of the other way around.
That’s my four-step framework for almost all sales conversations. It’s not sneaky; it’s not manipulative; it’s a genuine conversation between two people, one of which happens to be curious and present enough to give the other time and space to express themselves.
If you’re not a coach or a consultant, you might not find this compelling. And that’s okay. You need to understand that I derived the framework above from years of study for my industry. Your mileage may vary. But don’t let that get in the way of exploring what works and doesn’t work in sales.
We need to remember two simple truths:
- Selling is a noble profession. Whatever you own right now was made possible by someone who chose to sell somebody something somewhere. (I just made that up, but you get the gist, don’t you?)
- People buy emotionally but justify it logically.