Today’s Dear Coach is about revamping the definition of Sales.

Everyone should have received their year-end financial reports by now and are likely starting to set sales goals for this year, if they haven’t already. But there’s that one word, SALES, that sends shudders down the spines of many an entrepreneur. That singular word conjures up an image that I have had to help almost every client overcome. The enduring image of a super slick, high pressure, commission driven salesman lives on—and so has the need to help nervous business owners realize that they do not have to replicate those tactics in order to effectively represent their own product or service.

To evict the Sales Boogeyman, imagine replacing the word Sales with words like Connection, Communication, and Education. In my opinion, Sales is most effective when a consumer with a genuine need connects with a provider who has a genuine solution. There should never be a need to push or cajole a buyer into doing business with you. But in order for them to connect with you, you have to embrace the idea of communicating and educating. Sales is never about you, it’s about your audience. When your focus is on how you feel, maybe on your fear around making enough money or fear of looking foolish, you are missing out on opportunities to be of service to your customer. But, if your attention is focused on using your knowledge and experience to help another person, that mindset shift can transform your attitude toward sales.

I think one of the biggest challenges small business owners face is that traditional marketing strategies are biased toward extroverts. But, many different types of people own businesses and not all of them are comfortable with the idea of public speaking, attending gala events, or schmoozing in general. The key is to embrace what you are good at and what you do enjoy, and combine that with stretching yourself a little bit. For example, I worked with a client who is a self-proclaimed introvert. She hated public speaking and was extremely nervous just standing up for 60 seconds in front of group to talk about her services. But, she chose a small networking group to join, it provided a small and supportive environment for her to practice. She started to enjoy sharing her stories, she injected humor into her examples, and she rapidly bloomed into one of the group’s favorite members. She didn’t have to be on stage in front of hundreds to make an impression. She found a good niche where she could practice educating an audience, and in short order became adept at doing so.

So here are a few quick suggestions to put into action.

  1. Think about a time when you worked with a customer and you thoroughly enjoyed the experience. You got to use your experience and skills, and they valued what you had to offer. How did that person find you? How did they initially describe their problem to you? Write down as much of what you recall as possible.
  2. Next, put on your consumer hat. Review what you wrote down through their eyes. Are you able to clearly see what was most important to them? Are you using marketing language that is actually meaningful to your audience? Is it easy for them to find you, or was it a random chance that they came across your business?
  3. Write down just two things you will commit to doing with great consistency this year around your sales. Maybe that means honing a good elevator pitch, so when someone asks what you do for a living you answer in a compelling way that furthers the conversation. Maybe that means you refine your online presence using messaging that your audience really cares about and speaks to the issues they’re turning to you to solve.
  4. Last but not least, practice The Platinum Rule. It’s not about treating others as you wish to be treated. It’s treating others as they wish to be treated. Remember, sales is not actually about you — it’s about who you serve.

For additional marketing and sales strategies, check out my book on Amazon:

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Small Business, Big Voices: Episode 3