What I have learned about sales as a solo entrepreneur

 

I have talked to lots of solo business owners who hate sales. The pushy, smarmy pestering that is modus operandi of many salespeople. The cold calls, the blatant bragging, the boring sales pitches and the subtle (or not so subtle) manipulation that comes with convincing someone to buy your stuff or your services.

I hate that kind of sales too. It stinks.

But if you are running a small business even if it is on the side while your main job pays the bills, you can’t get away from the fact that business is trade and trade means a fair exchange of goods and services for (usually) money.

So selling is something that us solo entrepreneurs need to be good at.

 
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There is another way that is the no-sleaze, no smarm, and no manipulation sales paradigm. And that is invitational sales. Each sales conversation (even if it’s a landing page) is an invitation to which the answer is yes or no. And in the world of the invitational sales paradigm, both answers are good for business.

I read Seth Godin’s blogs and he had this to say about the difference between the two paradigms:

Watch this because I’m in it

vs.

I’m in it because you’ll enjoy watching it.

Or,

I published a book so I need you to read it

vs.

There’s something you need to read, so I wrote about it.

Or

I’m fifty and I just made an album because it was time for me to make one.

vs.

These songs won’t let go of me and I want to share them with you because they matter.

The first is me-centric and explains that we’re promoting something that got made because we need to sell it. What we do is make stuff and sell it, and what you do is buy it or watch it.  “I needed to make something to sell, here’s the best I could do.”

The second is you-centric. It starts with the needs and desires of the consumer and ignores the committees, the compromises and the economic realities. It says, “I found something for you, here it is.”
— https://seths.blog/2008/04/self-promotion/

As Seth puts it the invitational sales conversation is you-centric. It asks the question “how can I benefit you?” and invites the listener to engage in the benefit.

This way of doing sales is natural to solo entrepreneurs who have service as their main reason for going into business. They have skills or products that can serve and be of benefit to others and they created a business around doing or producing those things. If that is not how you think about your business then sales is going to be awful.

 
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But what about when people say no?

Well first, some of them are going to say no. You will need to expect some no’s and train your mind not to associate with any personal shortcomings.

Then you can see every no as an invitation for you.

An invitation to do two things:

  • Learn. What could be better about this opportunity that would make it a yes? Can you help me understand what would help you now? Don’t be afraid to ask those questions of your potential customers.

  • Keep the relationship going. This no may well be a yes in the making. Don’t back off but keep the person in the sphere of your business community and look for ways to serve them with invitational sales.

When solo entrepreneurs become masters of invitational sales everyone around them wins. And the solo entrepreneur is able to build a business that succeeds at serving.


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