My mother created what I think is a purple cow. An avid gardener, she was frustrated with the market's lack of a quality garden plant marker, so she set out and created her own. Every gardener she's shown it to flips over how great these things are - so simply showcasing the product should be enough to create a selling frenzy, right? Wrong. "If you build it, they will come" may have worked for Kevin Costner, but if you as an entrepreneur embrace this laissez faire philosophy, prepare to watch the product to which you've dedicated so many hours die on the vine. Selling is a simply a critical skill to success.
However, if you're like my mother - the thought of selling is overwhelmingly intimidating. Over homemade chicken soup on Sunday she expressed how, "I'm simply not wired that way. I get nervous and the words just don't come out right." Sound familiar?
If so, read on for ideas on how you can pitch your product without feeling like you've underminded your integrity.
Enthusiasm Makes the DifferenceNorman Vincent Peale was right - if you can't get excited about your product or service, who will? Do you believe you're the best? Deep down in your gut do you know that someone's life will be just a little better because of what you've created? Then let those feelings show. Passion is contagious. When you're genuinely happy and wholeheartedly believe that your product is the best on the market, that confidence can help your conversion rate.
Action: Often when we get excited our hearts beat stronger, we talk faster, louder or softer. However, these are signs of being nervous and uncomfortable - not self-confidence. Set up a video camera to record yourself. Sit down, stare directly into the camera and answer this question - "Who is someone special in your life and what are the qualities that make you love them." Pause. Get a glass of water. Sit down and stare again while answering this question - "What is your product/service and why should someone buy it." Then watch the tape. Do you notice a difference in the intonation and inflection of your voice? Chances are you were more comfortable talking about your someone special than your product. Continue recording until you are equally as comfortable with your product.
Use a Net - Not a Pole If your product is fulfilling a specific niche (which it should) blasting your message and seeing who bites may not be the most effective use of resources. Instead, go to places with a high density of potential customers. Think of catching fish in the ocean with a single pole versus catching fish in a barrel with a net. The "barrel" might be a chat room, blog, forum, conference, or event where people are saying "Help - I have this problem and need a way to fix it." When they ask for a solution and you provide it, you're not selling - you're solving.
Action: Brainstorm places where your potential customers might hang out in high numbers. Think beyond the tried and true and attempt to uncover unconventional places to market your product or service. Then go there with your I'm-here-to-help-you attitude.
Sell by Referral Form relationships with other entrepreneurs who offer a complementary product or service and cross-pollinate your prospects. For example, when I was a freelance writer, I spent a fair amount of time meeting with graphic artists and graphic designers. Why? I knew that a potential client would most likely seek out their profession first when a project arose. By educating my partners on the value I brought to the client, they happily recommended me when a client needed help with their writing.
Action: Who are your potential partners? Write down a list of products or services your customers use in addition to yours. Then, seek out places where these referral sources congregate, go there and begin to make friends. Often time these relationships take time, so be patient and give these new relationships the care they deserve.
How Sales Techniques Work - by Lee Ann Obringer
Marketing For the Deer-in-the-Headlights Crowd - by Dawn Rivers Baker