Back a little over a decade ago, I wanted to start my own business. I had so many things I wanted to do. Really, I could have gone into any one of ten small businesses.
I had a list of criteria to determine if it was a good fit or not:
- Could I do it in my home town?
- Did it require a significant capital investment?
- Did it require a lot of cash flow?
But the criteria that made the biggest difference to me was,
do I have to sell?
How silly is it to start your own business if you don’t like to sell and you don’t want to have the high expenditure of hiring others to sell for you?
What do you do to get customers if you don’t like to sell? Because whether we like it or not the “build it and they will come” theory is a myth more often than not.
I knew I had to sell. I just had to figure out how I could do it. I knew a few things about myself:
- I knew if I was doing something I was passionate about and believed in, I would want to share it with people…….if they asked!
- I knew that if people came to me, I could effectively tell them about what I was selling and why they should want it.
- I knew from arguing with people personally and professionally that I could be persuasive when I could limit the emotion in the discussion.
I have had sales positions before. They were in retail so they fit with my model of selling. People came into the store because they were interested in what we were selling. I was comfortable with steering them to the best outfit, toy, or wine for them.
Retail requires inventory and a building and employees. It wouldn’t even come close to meeting the other requirements I had for starting my own business.
It had to be a service business in order to have low start up costs.
This is where coaching and counseling won out.
How to sell without personal selling
Thankfully, I figured out how to sell without having to do a lot of personal selling. Here are some of the ways I did it.
- I picked a niche so that I wasn’t competing as directly with other colleagues and therefore we could have reciprocal referrals going on. Counselors are still my biggest referral source. If someone is having personal issues because of stress in business, counselors send them to me!
- I tried to find a couple of sources of referrals where I could go talk to one or two people that could refer several people to me. I chose pastors and counselors to interact with. How? With pastors, I volunteered a lot in different ways. I offered to coach the staff of my own church. I offered to do small group leadership with several churches to help them start ministries. I became an elder in our church and volunteered to go to Presbytery meetings and other events that they needed an elder to represent our church. I met many other local pastors this way.
- I got involved in places where I wanted to be anyway. For me, that was leading or participating in small groups. By leading small groups, people eventually found out what I did for a living and heard my participation and discussions. This knowledge and comfort level of what I believed and how I communicated led to people referring friends to me. It doesn’t have to be church though. It could be getting heavily involved in your kid’s school or in a sport. I believe that it is easier to consistently network when the interaction and events are how you would choose to spend your time anyway. I would rather get involved where I want to be anyway than go to a bunch of chamber of commerce meetings or association meetings.
- I used informational marketing or content marketing. This took a little longer for me as I was not utilizing it efficiently or purposefully at first. I wrote to share information that helped me with my clients. I started using a blog and social media to share it with more people. Eventually, I believe that blogging and sharing content has done the most to enhance my credibility. However, it took time and consistency.
- Built up my own confidence in my services. I did coaching, led groups, and participated in workshops for free in order to build up my own confidence in my services. I really believe that we need to be confident in our own abilities in order for others to be confident in paying for our services. I didn’t do a ton of free work. However, I scattered free coaching, and leading groups for church over the first year of my practice. It significantly increased my confidence.
This last one was the key for me to effectively sell my services. Remember, I didn’t have a problem to begin with selling something that I was passionate about if the person came to me or called me. I have to believe in something to sell it. Although this is a constant work in progress, I built up confidence in my services through results with other clients. I tried to become the ideal coach I would want to hire.
I focused on meeting their needs and understanding what results looked like to them. If they achieved results, then I did.
Over time, I became very comfortable sharing how I helped other people in their businesses, in their marriages, or in their personal struggles.
There is a big difference between having confidence and being arrogant. Many of you may be like me and avoid building up personal confidence because you feel it doesn’t honor God or portray humility.
I don’t believe that any more.
Again, if we don’t believe in ourselves and we don’t believe that God called us to where we are, how can we inspire others to trust us?
In the end, selling requires trust.
How can you sell if you don’t like selling? Build confidence and trust and make sure you are selling something you are passionate about.