You may be trained in some kind of specialty, but if you’re working, you need to remember the additional hat that everyone wears: salesperson.
For those who are self-employed or who run small businesses, this is kind of obvious. But given the uncertainty in the economy, everyone who is working for a living (or who wants to) needs to consider himself a salesperson.
Sales might seem a little intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be. It basically involves three steps:
- Succinctly defining the value of what you have to offer
- Communicating that value to as many people as possible
- Inviting those you speak with to take action (e.g. buy your product/service, hire you, provide a referral)
Even if you are employed in an organization, you should still take time each week to complete these steps. Do your co-workers know the value of what you do? Are they taking advantage of your talents? If not, perhaps you should invite them to do so. The best way is to simply offer to do something for them that makes their life easier. They will view this as an act of service, which it is, but in the process you are also communicating your value and making yourself an indispensable part of the team.
If you are unemployed, self-employed or struggling to run a small business, let me offer a simple action plan for improving sales:
- Take some time for introspection, then develop your elevator speech. This needs to be a very short and to-the-point description of what you do and why you do it better than others.
- Talk to at least 10 people each day. You can use the Internet to find people, but don’t use it to make the initial contact unless you have no other means of reaching that person. Instead, call them on the phone or visit in person.
- In every conversation, in addition to communicating your elevator speech, ask for two referrals.
Step Three is especially important. It is unlikely that your immediate circle of contacts will have much business for you, but as you dig through your network and build your connections, the opportunities will come. By asking for referrals during every call, you will ensure that you will always have new people to call on tomorrow.
If you are already experienced in sales, this stuff is obvious. But if you’re like me, you’ll have to take time to practice these skills.