No one likes using or being the victim of sales tactics, especially high-pressure tactics. The reality is that a lot of times that works and so that is what most people advocate and use. It feels awkward for everyone and if everyone is really honest, no one likes selling or being sold. So, what can a freelancer or small business do to improve their sales and close more business?
My answer: Don’t Sell. Yep, I know that sounds a little crazy, but that has been the trick for me. It takes the pressure off of me to use the right language or try an awkward sales tactic that feels uncomfortable for everyone, me included. Here’s what I mean when I say Don’t Sell. The goal is not to add another transaction to a list, but to build a long-term relationship that naturally leads to more business and value for everyone involved. The goal is to build a relationship to learn about the pain points for your client and determine how you can provide a solution to make their life or job better, easier, or more meaningful. Focus on getting to know your potential clients and ask lots of questions about how they deal with situations where your product or service might be able to help them out. Seek to understand their perspectives, struggles, and help them to identify their needs. This allows you to earn their trust, position yourself as a resource or advocate, and put you in proximity to earn more business. The natural outflow from here is more business for you and a much happier and loyal client.
Over time, you will naturally surface ways you can be valuable to your clients as you get to know them. Sometimes that provides you an opportunity to get more business, other times you may refer a colleague who can better meet the client need. This only further establishes you as an authority and a valuable resource to your client and colleagues. Referrals are always better when ever possible, so invest in people, build relationships (not sales), and be ready to pass opportunities that fit others better around and ‘share the love’ with others so you can create the win-win.
Other than focusing on long-term relationships, just be yourself. That feels more sincere to clients and it is much easier than trying to use all this awkward sales language and positioning. There is nothing to prove, everything is just about building long-term relationships and the best way to do that is to avoid acting like or trying to be someone that you are not.
Finally, the best practical technique to add to this is to make sure to always make the closing question an option between two ‘wins.’ You want to avoid letting the conclusion to the conversation be a questions between buy or don’t buy and do everything you can to make the question about which version or model to buy. For example, you might offer photography services. In that case, make your proposal oriented around one or two options. Offer a ‘basic’ package and a ‘premium’ package that maybe only includes a couple of additional items that are not a substantial amount of additional work for you but create additional value for your clients.