One of the most challenging parts of being a new entrepreneur is getting comfortable with sales. I looked to one of the smartest young entrepreneurs I know for a bit of advice — Ramit Sethi, founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and a new course on earning more money.
In the four years I have known Ramit, I have seen him grow from exceptional blogger to exceptional best-selling author and businessperson. He inspired my Perfectionists are Losers post, was interviewed for my pricing series, and was featured in my book in the Testing chapter, with the story of his co-founding of PB Wiki. He knows what he is talking about. Enjoy the read!
Who is this sleazy sales guy?
Is this the ONLY way to sell your services?
“But I HATE selling…”
If you’re thinking about starting your own business on the side, this should be a familiar thought. In our experience, worrying about how to sell yourself is one of the top barriers to getting customers who pay what you’re really worth.
Who likes sleazy sales guys? We’ve all seen those movies where the slick, fast-talking salesman is trying to push a product or service that nobody wants. We don’t want to be like them. We might even go out of our way not to be “sales-y” just to avoid any affiliation with snake oil and used cars.
It’s natural to feel uncomfortable selling yourself and your services. Have you ever gone into a meeting, enthusiastic and ready to deliver an amazing service to a prospect…yet when it came time to make the sale, you just couldn’t ask for what you’re worth?
Lots of people find themselves irrationally discounting for services that they could easily charge 2x, 3x, or even 5x more for.
Selling yourself and your services is a deeply psychological act. I could give you sales script after sales script, but if you haven’t practiced and valued yourself, you’ll never get the rates you deserve.
How do you grow your business without selling?
The ability to sell is one of the most important skills for anyone — even if you’re not ready to escape from cubicle nation, and you just want to earn more money on the side. But if it’s simply not your thing, then there’s another solution.
The best sales pitch is an explanation — a no-pressure conversation with your prospect showing them that you understand their problems and offering them what you truly believe to be the best solution.
Ask yourself: If your prospect had all the motivation and information in the world, would he go with your solution? If so, it’s your job to explain why you can help him.
How to flip your mindset on selling your self
1. Acknowledge the value in what you do. Don’t just dismiss this. Imagine you went to a cocktail party and someone said, “What do you do?” Would you say something flippant like, “I dunno, I’ve started trying out this coaching thing…”? Or would you look them in the eye and say, “I’m a coach who helps women grow their 1 to 5-person businesses.” We tend to think of sales as persuasion, and, specifically, persuasion against what people really want. Selling yourself should not be antagonistic. Instead, you should be a guide, a sherpa, leading your prospect to what he wants, anyway — you just know a quicker, easier way to get there.
Be valuable to your customer, then tell them so.
2. Stop thinking about what YOU value and start thinking about your clients. Warning: Don’t confuse what you value for what the client values — you’re likely coming at it from a completely different standpoint. That’s why a consultant might have doubts about his rates and think, “I’m too expensive…even I wouldn’t hire me.”
Of course you wouldn’t hire you!! Do you even need a consultant right now??
Get inside the head of your customer, and recognize what your value is to them, not just to yourself.
When you start communicating on the client’s terms (“How can I solve your problem?”) instead of your own (“How can I convince you to buy my service?), the sales conversation gets a whole lot easier. (This is such an important concept that I spend 4 weeks covering it in my course on earning more money.)
3. Be the one who gets to choose. Let’s talk about dating for a second. When most people think about dating, it looks like this (I write for a lot of guys, so flip this if you’re a woman): Guy pursues girl, and girl gets to choose to reject or accept. One of the most effective dating tip for guys is to flip this relationship and become the one who gets to choose. Instead of futilely chasing women who have the power to reject or accept him on any whim, he becomes an attractive person that others flock to — and now he controls his destiny. (The same is true of women chasing vs. being chased.)
This concept also applies to selling to clients. When you speak with a prospect, you should be communicating (implicitly, through words and actions) that you’re choosy with your clients. It’s counter-intuitive, but being selective will increase your perceived value because it shows that you’re probably in high demand.
For example, here are two similar pitches. Note the difference:
Hoping to be selected: “If you’re not too busy, can I talk to you for a minute about one of my coaching programs?”
Being the selector: “I’ve got a great coaching program that has helped my past clients achieve X, and I’d love to chat with you to see whether you’d also be a good fit for it.”
In the first case, the client’s instinctive reaction is to come up with a reason to say no. But in the second, the client is ALREADY thinking, “I wonder if I’d be a good fit?”
Be the one who gets to choose if that client is right or not, and apply this across the spectrum of your client relationships. Instead of dropping everything on a client’s whim, get used to sticking to your schedule. Instead of always being the one to make promises, inform your prospects about what you expect from them. And finally, always be willing to walk away from a prospect, because if they won’t pay for your time, someone else will!
4. Find out what the client really wants, and let it do the selling for you. People have no problem spending money if you deeply understand their needs. So when we see something we really love, we’ll often do anything we can to get it – and here’s the kicker – price becomes merely an afterthought. You can use that to your advantage.
Case in point: Just recently, I was on a conference call with one of my Earn1k students. I had briefly mentioned that that I’d love some home-cooked food but was too lazy to make it on my own. A few days later, one student offered to personally cook and deliver all my meals for me.
I instinctively asked him about the price, and his response was brilliant. He said: “We can definitely talk about that in a second. But first, let’s just talk about what you want – after that, I’m sure we can figure how to make the money work.”
How could I say no to that? I went on and on about all the details of how I’d envisioned the cooking service. By the end of the conversation, I had one thing and only one thing on my mind: how was I going to get that convenient, home-cooked food to my house?? And how quickly?
In the end, I happily paid him even more than I’d originally expected, because I was focused on my wants — and so was he.
I paid him hundreds of dollars per month for this service — and I was happy to, because he was SOLVING MY PROBLEMS.
Selling is serving, not battle
Closing high-value clients is NOT about hard sales and high-pressure tactics. In fact, if stoop to unsavory hard sales techniques and you’ll basically guarantee that you’ll never be dealing with the highest value clients for your service.
Instead, the best sales techniques — and the best kind of clients — come when you show with confidence that you have something valuable that the client really wants, the perfect solution to an individual customer problem. After that, you can let the sale can happen all on its own.
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Pam here again — Ramit is launching a video course with step-by-step videos, case studies, worksheets, and live training on how to earn your first $1,000….and then grow it. I have taught in his live program, and he has great, results-oriented practical information. He also pulls no punches, so be warned. 🙂 If you’re interested, you can get a free preview of the course here. I used my affiliate link in this post, since I totally support what he is doing.
Ramit Sethi is the author of the best-selling personal finance book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. His new program is designed to help regular people earn money on the side while keeping their full-time jobs. Sign up here to get a free preview course on finding a profitable idea, marketing, sales, and advanced techniques.