I am not a sales and marketing guru. I’ve written two books on marketing and taught thousands of people how to sell themselves, but really, I don’t know more about sales and marketing than most of you.
What I know how to do is talk to people, all kinds of people — restaurant owners and waiters, CEO’s and receptionists, entrepreneurs and kindergarten teachers. I don’t try to sell these people anything; we just have a conversation. But sales happen as a result.
In my book “Get Clients Now!” I define marketing as telling people what you do over and over. That’s part of the secret right there. I’ve seen too many business owners fail because they simply don’t speak up about their business. Or else they tell someone once what they do for a living, and then think they never need to mention it again.
But there’s another piece of the sales and marketing puzzle that often gets left out. When you talk to someone about your business, you need to be direct, authentic, and unattached to the outcome.
Clients and students often ask me questions like, “What do I say when I call Mr. Big to find out if he’s ready to buy?” They’re shocked when they hear my answer: “Hello, Mr. Big, have you decided to purchase our product?”
Or maybe the question is how to follow up with someone you met at last night’s event who expressed some interest in your service. My suggestion is to say: “When we spoke last night, you seemed interested in my services, and I’d like to continue our conversation.”
What do you do when you fear that the client doubts your qualifications? How about: “You seem a bit unsure of my qualifications to do the job, and I’d like to address that. What are your concerns?”
These are all conversations. You ask a question; they answer. They ask a question; you answer. It’s like a friendly tennis match — all you have to do is keep the ball in the air, and nothing is at stake.
But that’s the catch, isn’t it? You think there’s a lot at stake. What if you don’t get the contract, the client, the money? So you make the conversation overly significant, put on your marketing face and your selling voice, speak someone else’s words… and the result is anything but direct and authentic.
What impact does this have on the person you’re speaking with? The opposite of a direct approach is an indirect one: devious, underhanded, sneaky (check your thesaurus). The opposite of authentic is inauthentic: phony, fraudulent, insincere. Isn’t this exactly what you have always been afraid of — sounding like a used car salesman or telemarketer reading a script?
Scripts are for rehearsals. In a meeting or on the phone, keep some talking points in front of you, but don’t read. Every word should be one you would use in normal conversation — use instead of utilize; fix instead of rectify; help instead of facilitate. Get to the point quickly, and tell the truth about it. “I’m just calling to introduce myself,” is not only an ineffective pproach, it’s a lie.
Show a sincere interest in people by asking questions about their goals and problems. When you see a place where your business can help, don’t hesitate to say so. Be respectful of people’s time and really listen to what they say. Respond to what you heard instead of continuing to the next item on your agenda. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn while staying true to who you are.
But these are just tips for changing your behavior. The real key is in your attitude. If you can recognize that being indirect, inauthentic, or attached to the outcome is causing you to lose sales instead of make them, you’ll have a powerful incentive to do things differently.