One cannot stand still in business; your business is either growing, or it is shrinking and losing ground.
Growing one's business involves marketing, referrals, networking, compelling presentations, follow up, potentially public relations, advertising, and community presence – and, of course, that seven letter word, S-E-L-L-I-N-G, a word that many people dread.
People may dread having to sell, but it is necessary, and I will try to put a different slant on it to help you understand.
Selling is really about fulfilling someone or some company's need and desire – it's helping a person or a company!
First, we have to gain the opportunity. I can tell you, it has become increasingly difficult to cold call. It has always been difficult, and now it’s harder than ever. People do not like to receive a cold call by phone, and I have learned that there are so many emails everyday, people are becoming immune to email solicitations. Likewise, solicitation by regular mail is a long shot, and expensive.
The best way to get into a company is clearly to know someone, or know someone who will give us an introduction to someone. This won't get us the business, an order, but it may get us a conversation. Then it's up to us to prove our value, as it should be.
The secret to helping someone or some company is to determine what they need and want, and that means asking open-ended questions and finding out what success will look like for the prospective client. Their needs may be a particular product or service, a specific proposal, follow up services, price etc.
We must drill down. We cannot assume we know what they need.
This includes our proposal. We must ask our client or prospective client what they would like our proposal to look like and include – an executive summary, our recommendations, explanations, bullet points, references, team member bios, etc.? Do they want about a five page proposal or a more extensive proposal? Would they like to see a draft a week or so ahead to assure they are getting the information they need? I cannot tell you the number of times that I have seen people spend enormous time and energy crafting an extensive, many page proposal, which was not what the prospective client wanted.
The use of social media is a whole other subject, though very related. I will write about that another time.
With the knowledge of what is needed and wanted and through understanding that we can help by fulfilling that need, we can be our professional selves, let potential clients know we will deliver for them, that they can trust us – and that we have a strong desire to help!