This guest post is from Philip Pound, founder of EFL Magazine. Some salient advice for freelancers (both teaching and writing) trying to ‘sell’ their work or skills.
A sales trainer once told me, “no matter what you do in life you’re always selling” I may have forgotten most of the rest of that seminar, but that has stuck with me.
If you feel you need a little primer on how to sell, have a read of this article and be sure to do some more research.
- Take no for an answer
Many newbies starting out in their sales careers are terrified of rejection. They’re afraid of hearing no. We think when we hear “no” it’s a rejection of us as a person. This is not the case.
Hearing “no” is often our best friend.
Let me explain…
In my 10+ years in sales, if I have learned anything for my efforts, it was your clients say yes when they oftentimes mean no. You get your hopes up, you follow up, and eventually it’s a no.
Why did this happen? “They seemed so positive”, you say. And yes, many times business decisions are made by committee. And yes, it takes only one person to blackball your fantastic proposal.
More often though, It’s your prospect who can’t bear to say “no” You see, if being rejected feels like a hammer blow, having to reject is far worse.
So what happens?
When they mean no they say yes.
In his book, Never Split the Difference, former FBI negotiator Chris Voss Outlines 3 types of yes: Counterfeit, Confirmation, and Commitment.
A “Counterfeit Yes” is when your prospect wants to say no but says yes in order to back of the deal and the feeling of being cornered
A “Confirmation Yes” is when your prospect interchanges yes with “I see” or “ok” for example
A “Commitment Yes” is what you want. It’s your prospect agreeing to take your product or service.
Voss recommends looking for the words “that’s right” as a more accurate gauge of your client’s intention to work with you.
On top of this, Voss advises to actively look for and invite “no” Check out more here
In the end, if getting a no means not having to waste your time following up with prospects. That in itself is a great result.
2. Start with no
Do you hate salespeople?
In surveys over the years, salespeople come out bottom of the least-liked jobs. Why is this? You may have your opinion, but for me one big factor comes out on top.
It’s like this, you see a salesperson sidle up to you with that big smile and over-familiar patter. Sub-consciously you feel we’re going to “be sold”and there’s going to be some manipulation and guilt-tripping involved . Of course, not all salespeople are like this. But they do exist. And we hate how they make us feel.
Why do we feel like this and what can we do as salespeople to not scare away or prospects?
In his book, Start with No, Jim Camp talks about the power of no in negotiations and sales.
One of his tips is to be forthright about your intentions from the very outset. To be clear that you want to sell and what your price is. In this way, the prospect will not have the creepy feeling that there’s an agenda afoot. The air is clear and you can move on. He also talks about the power of no and how seeking and hearing it can help uncover your prospect’s pain points and help you to shape your solution to fit.
3. Always be prepared to say no
When you work in sales there’ll always be a few clients that you’ll stay in touch with even after moving on to another company. One such gentleman once handed me this nugget of advice. I’ve never forgotten it and it’s served me well.
“Always be prepared to walk away”
The story goes like this: He’d secured the exclusive distribution rights for a famous beverage in Ireland. Then with the contract in hand he went with a lot of optimism to one of that country’s largest retailers. This was a big contract, and undoubtedly one he wanted in the bag.
But he walked away.
Well, the buyer was unnecessarily rude, demeaning, and aggressive.
His response was “ Thank you, but I don’t need your business”
In your business, there’s never a contract that’s too big to lose your self respect and honour over. Think of the long run, the client treats you with contempt or arrogance how is the relationship going to develop? Not well, is it. Being too eager to close a deal also leaves you open to looking desperate. People can smell desperation from a mile away. It’s a sales repellant.
If you’re always ready to say no, you’ll have the upper hand.
Oh, and he landed the contract in the end