How sales coaching helped me define my goals and grow my profits.Here’s some real deal business truth for you: if you are an entrepreneur, you are in sales. And if the s-word gives you the willies, it shouldn’t, and here’s why.
I think that sales is the most overlooked skill in the entrepreneurial world. Sure you might be a great a graphic designer or run an awesome virtual assistant agency, but if you can’t sell, you can’t grow. Of course, in an ideal world, your work would speak for itself—customers would instantly value you, and be beating down your door to work with you.
The reality….meh….that’s not really what happens, is it? If you want to get your business where it needs to be, you need to learn how to sell—and selling isn’t slimy (unless you are selling snake oil, in which case it’s most definitely slimey). Selling is simply communicating what it is you do, why it’s valuable to the client, and what it is worth. Selling, isn’t really selling, it’s client education.
Once upon a time, I was pretty great at being a bookkeeper, and had a roster of clients who liked me well enough to refer my services to from friends and family. But when it came to having to sell to a client who I didn’t know, or one who found me randomly, boy was I at terrible at it.
The truth is I was falling short of my revenue goals, because I didn’t know how to sell, and frankly I was afraid to sell. Enter Julie Steelman, sales coach and author of The Effortless Yes. I’ve spent a LOT of money on all sorts of trainings—marketing, mindset, money management, mastermind (sheeeesh that’s a lot M’s), but working with Julie was by far the best investment I have ever made in my business.
Taking a Long, Hard Look in the Mirror
Before my first training with Julie, I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire assessing where I was in my business and where I wanted to be. And it was HARD. I had to dig pretty deep to answer questions like these:
- What has to happen in order for you to feel like you are honoring your life’s values?
- What are the five characteristics of your ideal client?
- If selling were to become graceful and as easy as breathing for you, what would that look like?
Heavy stuff, right? It takes a lot of work—and a lot of soul-searching—to learn how to master the sales game, but it’s so worth it. Here are the three most important things I learned about selling:
- Write down every single thing you bring to the table for your clients. For me that list included—of course—bookkeeping, but also things like a hefty insurance policy if a mistake is made, a black book of seasoned professionals that I readily share with my clients to help grow their business, and years of experience in various industries. As it turns out, I have a LOT of valuable information to share
- Articulate your value—write it down. Read it. Read it again. The more YOU know how valuable you are, the most comfortable you will be sharing that information with others.
- Most people buy things to buy back time. If this is true for your business, think about HOW you do that, and what sorts of things you can do with all that newfound time.
The Road to Profit
After completing Julie’s sales training, I made some changes in the way I do business:
- I made it super easy for people to get in touch and book a sales call with me.
- I practiced, practiced, practiced my sales pitch. And an amazing thing happened—I got BETTER at it.
- I got better at saying no to clients who weren’t a great fit, so I had the bandwidth and the time to work with the best of the best.
You know what’s cool? Because I have QuickBooks Online, I can actually look and see EXACTLY how that training increased my sales. I took Julie’s training from December 2010-February 2011, and when I run a comparison report from that period, to the same period the year before I can see it increased my sales by 37.15%.
You know what’s even better? That training grew upon itself. I have no doubt it’s the reason why we have consistently seen between 15-20% growth in sales every year since.
Sales training is an investment you can’t afford to skip if you want to grow a successful business. No matter your industry, schedule or preferred mode of learning (webinar, email, phone, in-person), there’s a course out there that will help you master the art of selling.