Having moved from being an unsuccessful business owner to a much more successful one (as can be attested by my revenue) in the past 5 years, I think I now have a handle on what separates the two. What is an unsuccessful business owner? It’s simply someone who isn’t living up to their growth potential. After all, Sales is such a huge part of business that actually nothing happens without a sale. No jobs, no goods, no services, no world really. So when I constantly see how a business owner’s view of Sales creates or slows down their success, I want to write about it so that you too can catch yourself if you’re constantly falling into this trap.
Unsuccessful people are afraid to go to events in case they will be “Sold-to“. Successful people go to events because they think about what they’ll learn and who they’ll meet. And yes, if there’s someone selling something they need, they are thrilled by the opportunity to buy it. When I called a Women’s Business Association this week and offered to host a free Roundtable for their members, the first thing the head of the chapter mentioned was “people don’t come to these things because they expect to be sold to”. I was shocked. Many of my Roundtables are filled by enthusiastic heads of similar Associations across North America because they recognize the value in the Roundtable and in my expertise. I actually told the woman who expressed the concern “In my experience, if a business owner is successful, “being sold to” is rarely a concern and if they have that thinking, they’re not really my target”. Well, that conversation didn’t exactly end with a bang. I was politely told “we’ll call you, don’t call us”, The head of this Association was triggered by my answer because remember: we only project onto others what we are ourselves. So if someone thinks events are offered only as a sales tool, that’s what they will focus on and not the value.
Unsuccessful people are literally afraid of and run from anyone who is or can remotely offer to sell them something. Successful people are comfortable saying and hearing ‘No’ in a sales conversation, no matter which side of the equation they happen to be in the moment. For example, yesterday a Bell sales rep came to the door while the freezing wind was turning his ears red. He opened the conversation with “I’m not here to make your life miserable (although he looked more miserable than anyone!)” He was selling a new phone/cable bundle and I quickly told him I wasn’t a good candidate for him because we’d already been with Bell and left because of poor customer service. He tried to explain that things had changed but I firmly and politely told him “I’m not ready to change, I’m happy”. When put that way, what sales person can argue? If they don’t have the right training, a sales person might argue and waste your time but even then I can empathize and say “I know what you’re doing is the toughest job in the world, I also sell a lot and you’re really good at it but I don’t want us to waste any more of each other’s time. Use your time to connect with people who actually need this bundle and savings!” I have never ever ended a sales conversation on a bad note when I was approached.
Unsuccessful business owners are the first to try to outsource their Sales. I’ve seen businesses hire cold callers, prospectors, sales reps, or spend their entire time with potential joint venture partners hoping and waiting for referrals. It’s so distasteful and hard for unsuccessful people to sell themselves and their company that they would rather do a million blogs, post on every social media site, network at every breakfast meeting and find things to do with their current clients to fill their time 24-hrs-a-day, than to actually connect with people to have that much needed Sales Conversation. And sadly, when the whole week goes by and you haven’t had a single sales conversation to sell yourself, it’s as if your business was closed.
If a person is afraid to sell, they are not making the amount of money they could be (and most likely want to be) making. The fear of selling often comes from the most basic of human needs which is the need for social acceptance. In my experience when a person is driven by this fear and the need for social acceptance, they crave the safety of many things: like jobs, or long term contracts. They seek the safety of known networking groups and to circulate amongst their friends. They seek industries they’ve had experience in to niche, even if there’s no viability in it. They seek inaction through blame and find a million reasons both consciously and subconsciously about why it’s unsafe to sell and market. “I’m not ready, I haven’t found the right market, there’s a recession, I haven’t published my book yet, I haven’t learned that yet, etc etc” The list goes on..and it is unfortunately a road to no-where.
If you have found yourself in one of these traps, awareness is the first step but the ultimate test is to get out there and Sell and Be Sold-to for God’s sake! As a wonderful quote I read this week says “I don’t care what you think of me. I can’t buy groceries with your opinions.” So get out there and practice selling as often as you humanly can!
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