Let me take a guess at this. You’re an artisan – be it jewelry, crochet, stitchery, or underwater basket weaving – or a small business owner – like an independent contractor or a freelance writer – and you love what you do. However, nobody seems to know you exist. You’ve read about marketing tips, but the very word “marketing” makes you break out into a cold sweat.
Let’s say you make a cold call – perhaps to a museum, a boutique, a blog editor, etc. – and you say something like “Sorry to bother you, but I make jewelry and just was wondering if maybe you would want to see my website if you need any jewelry, if not that’s okay, I just wanted to ask.”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
There’s a reason you’re an artisan (or independent freelance no-thanks-corporate-America rockstar of some sort) – you’re not one for corporate sales…or sales at all…or confrontation. But you are a business, whether you like it or not. At least, if you want to sell your work – you are a business. Businesses need to make sales. So you’ll have to figure out a way to overcome that fear and get on the phone.
I went through the same thing, and sometimes when I cold call for writing, I still do. I was in corporate sales for a time and left it, among other reasons, because I don’t like sales. At least I didn’t. Then, I realized that I was looking at things all wrong. Your outlook is very likely 90% of the reason you are afraid to market, and not marketing is about 90% of the reason you aren’t making sales, or at least not making the sales you want.
his will be a series of blogs based on some of the things I learned, the viewpoints I changed, and some tips I can offer you on marketing your business – whatever it is. Whether you’re a writer, an artisan, a freelance IT guy, or a wedding singer, you need to market your business. But it doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, I actually like marketing now, and you can, too.
Today’s topic – realizations you need to have.
#1 Realize You’re Not Begging for Work or Intruding
One of the things that really tripped me up when I went to make a cold call or approach a potential client was the idea that I was “asking for work” or “begging”. I almost felt like I should apologize, like I was busting into their day, taking up their time, and what right did I have?
Get that out of your head. Right now. I’ll wait. Seriously, It is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Do not say things like “I’m sorry to bother you, but…” or “I know you’re really busy, but…”. So what if they’re busy? You’re not bothering them. They’re a business, you’re a business offering something that can help their business, period. You have a valuable product or service, and you’re simply approaching them with the opportunity to take advantage of it.
Your Mantra: I am a professional offering a valuable product/service and I am worth my prospects’ time.
Isn’t that better?
#2 Realize You Are Not Asking For the Sale
That’s right. You’re not asking for a sale, you’re simply asking a question – do you have need for [insert whatever you are offering here]. This is where we – by we I mean those of us who can’t stand the traditional sales model – can depart from the corporate sales script. Instead of manipulative scripts meant to “guide” the prospect and whatever whatever, we’re just asking a question.
Your question, or your pitch, can simply be “Hi I’m [name] and I’m a [freelance/local/writer/designer]. I noticed [something on their website, that your jewelry fits in well with the style in their store, whatever] and was wondering if you had a current or ongoing need for a [whatever you’re offering].”
I use this basic speech with just about anything I set out to market. Instead of a salesy oratory leading the prospect through various stages of assumed feelings, emotions, needs, and finally commitment, you get right to the point. Be friendly but professional, be calm, and don’t take rejection personally.
Mantra: I am not asking for a sale, I’m asking a question regarding their needs, that’s it.
#3 Realize Rejection is Not Personal
You heard me. Don’t believe me? Answer these questions.
Has the person you pitched to ever met you before?
Has the person you pitched to ever seen/read your work/used your services?
Did you ask the prospect if they think you’re a good person, would like to be friends, or any similar question?
Very often the answer is no. So how can it be personal? They don’t know you, they’ve never met you, they have no experience with your work or services, and you didn’t ask them to be your best friend or to go on a date with you, right? So what they’re rejecting is simply your field, essentially.
You ask if they need new handmade jewelry for their shop, they say no. So? It has no bearing on the quality of your work (which they haven’t seen), because it’s obviously awesome, or your character (which they don’t know), because I’m sure you’re delightful.
All you did was ask if they needed something that you happen to offer. They don’t. Someone else will. Keep calling.
See? I told you it wasn’t personal.
Mantra: Rejection of my product or service is not a rejection of me or my quality of work, it is a rejection of the thing I offer. What they do not need, someone else will.
#4 Realize That “No”s are Necessary
In a perfect world, everyone would be just waiting for you to call and offer your services. However, that is not the case. You will probably hear “no” more often than “yes”, but it’s a numbers game. If you call five people and get “no” responses and give up, of course you’ll never get a yes. You must get a number of “no”s first. So…hearing “no” is not only necessary, but positive, because each no just brings you closer to a yes.
Mantra: I will not be discouraged by “no” because it’s necessary; I’m simply getting closer to a “yes”.
#5 Realize You Are Not Alone
You aren’t the only person out there nervously picking up the phone calling a prospect. In fact, while you might be offering something unique, you probably aren’t the only person reaching out to whoever you’re currently calling. How many telemarketing calls do you get every day? Do you remember anyone’s name that called? Do you even remember most of the calls?
Unless someone was really rude or very pushy, you probably don’t, and even then it’s only annoying for a few moments. Picking up that phone is monumental and quite scary to you, but to the other person, unless they do need or want what you’re offering, you’re essentially anonymous. They won’t remember.
So…not only are you not alone but you probably won’t make much of an impression with your one question of “Do you have a need for…?” That takes the pressure off right away.
Mantra: I’m not the only one marketing to my prospect, and even if they don’t buy from me, they won’t remember me anyway.
The only reason #5 would not be true is if you ask for a referral and they give you one – but even then, they’re giving you the name/number of someone else, they probably still won’t take yours. They’re busy and your call was only a small blip on the radar of their day. Don’t worry about it.
Hopefully the above realizations have opened a window for you and let the light in on the reality of cold calling. It doesn’t have to be scary and it’s actually kind of fun once you get going.
So tell me…what marketing issue intimidates you the most or keeps you from picking up that phone/knocking on that door?