Originally published on Entrepreneur Magazine on May 20, 2015.
Do you procrastinate or completely avoid doing any kind of sales for your business? Or do you think that the whole process of sales is a slimy and shifty experience that you just don’t want to do?
Well, here is a secret for you — sales is a necessary process in having a business. Okay, not much of a secret. The reality is your business depends on your ability to understand sales so that you can continue to serve your clients. Your resistance to this necessary part of your business is only costing you money and adding stress to your life.
If you do have a fear of sales, you are not alone. The fear is quite common. Creative, purpose-driven entrepreneurs like you seldom start a business because they are sales rock stars. You got in the business to do what you love to do.
Unfortunately, there is a myth out there that says, “Being great at what you do is enough to make your business grow.” Being great in your chosen field is only part of the business. The other part of your business hinges on you understanding how to sell your products and services in a way that is in alignment with who you are.
The fear of sales shows up in very interesting ways. I have had many clients who have related sales in their own business with the stereotypical used car salesman. When you dig into it, there is usually the one central fear — “What will they think about me?” This is where the slimy and shifty feelings seep into your thinking. You avoid sales in every way possible, even if that means not selling at all.
Let me share with you four simple steps to overcome the fear of sales:
1. Understand the real problem you solve.
Get a deeper understanding of the problem you solve. This means knowing how others approach the same problem. It is also about knowing the real cause of the problem and how the causes are different than the effects of that problem. The better you understand the problem your prospects face, the more likely you are to offer a creative and innovative solution to the problem.
Write a narrative story of the essential problems you solve. Include the root causes and the effects of the problem. Add to it why your approach is different than your peers.
Special Note: Don’t be afraid to break norms with industry standards. Going against the grain is a great way to separate you from your peers.
2. Get to the value you provide.
The value here is the client’s perceived value of what their problem is costing them. It is essential to understand the monetary impact of your work. If you cannot directly compute the “payoff” of your work, it will be hard to communicate it to your prospects.
Value is the root of the sales process. Your product or service addresses a real problem, right? Your job is to use all the tools available to you to see the value from the eyes of your clients and communicate that to future prospects.
Document all the cost savings and financial growth your work provides for clients. Also, document the qualitative parts of your solutions too.
3. Establish a sales process based on integrity.
Sales without a defined process are likely to wander. Wandering sales rarely build a strong business with repeatable results. The flip side of this is a defined step-by-step process for your sales. This includes the invitation to the first conversation, the steps after that conversation and all the steps in the between.
When you have a sales process aligned with integrity you are more likely to remove any points of resistance. This “integrity” part of sales is all about truly believing that your time with the prospect is valuable, versus simply being an interruption. When you believe it is valuable you will minimize your resistance.
4. Learn to love sales.
Loving what you do means so much to your overall results for your clients. Loving the actual process of sales will help you create a powerful business, too. When you accept that your work is valuable, and you know exactly who can get the most value from your work, you will enjoy the sales process more.
You can get by with two or three of these steps on your journey to overcoming the fear of sales but focusing on all of them will give you more confidence in your ability to serve others. In today’s markets, sales are about understanding how to add value to others before, during and after the sales process.