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  • #1005792
    linkartist
    Member
    • Total posts: 89

    I guess the next question is… how or where do you learn these skills? Its not like you can just get them from a book or course :)

    #1005793
    LeelaCosgrove
    Member
    • Total posts: 634

    You can do SOME from courses … I highly recommend anything by Brian Tracey and Tony Robbins ‘Mastering Influence’ (while expensive) was one of the best investments I ever made in a CD program. ROI was about 2 weeks. That was is particularly good for people who don’t like being ‘pushy’ as it helps with the mindset side of things …

    The way I learned was to take 6 months off from my business and go and work in commission only sales.

    Not everyone can do that, of course – but I do know a guy who is a ‘sales coach’ – that is, he works with people, shows them how to make sales calls and put together scripts and then will sit with you (on Skype or in person) while you make calls and help you, so you can learn … I won’t blatantly advertise his details here, in line with forum policies, but if anyone wants his details, pop me a message and I’ll forward them on.

    Really, the ONLY way to learn sales is to DO sales. The problem is, if you’re doing it without anyone to tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, it’s really difficult to get good …

    I was lucky to go and work for a total hard … urrr … guy – who pushed me pretty much to my limits. It was exhausting and hard – but it also set me up to be able to explode my business on the backend of it … I wouldn’t be having the success I’m having now if I hadn’t of done what I did …

    #1005794
    linkartist
    Member
    • Total posts: 89

    I guess the problem I have with that is that between staying current in my skillset, admin & funnily enough, actually designing (:)), its very hard to then sit & take courses. I literally have 18 books on my desk waiting to be read that are directly related to web development alone! Its nuts, the amount of stuff we need to do to keep up, let alone innovate in this business!

    I’ll check out the courses, but really, the end goal for me is to not be doing any selling and to have a sales person!

    #1005795
    Renee Barber
    Member
    • Total posts: 360

    Ah … that would be perfect to have a business development officer so I could do what I actually enjoy doing: the work.

    I’ll get there!

    #1005796
    LeelaCosgrove
    Member
    • Total posts: 634

    The problem is – until you PROVE the sales can be done, no sales person is going to want to take the job on.

    I hear from SMEs all the time … “Oh, I’ll just get a sales person to do it” … and from sales people “Sheesh, all of these people with products that aren’t even proven want me to work for them!”.

    It’s like anything in business – outsourcing is fine, but you need to understand what’s going on before you can do it effectively. And this is particularly true of sales – because NO sales person wants to end up trying to sell a product that no one wants (no matter how much you’re paying them … salespeople want to SELL not to NOT sell!). That’s why the first question that any good sales person will ask you when you interview them is …

    “What’s your sales process?”
    “What were the gross sales last year?”
    “How many sales people did you have working on it?”
    “And what’ s your sales background?”

    If you’ve sold reasonably well, with no sales background, they’ll probably look at it … but if you’re trying to bring in someone when you have no sales script, no sales process, no sales funnel … I haven’t met a sales person who would touch that job – unless you were willing to pay them VERY big money (as a salary … don’t even THINK about commission only only you have all of these things in place and they are working well) – even then, they’ll normally tell you to go and get a consultant to do that part for you …

    Again, big money … at which point you’re better off learning how to do it yourself so that you can at least use the skill set and have it in house for the future, rather than having to employ someone every time you need to do something …

    I now have someone who does a lot of selling for me …

    But that’s only after 9 months of selling myself and proving that the product had legs and the comms would be worth it.

    #1005797
    linkartist
    Member
    • Total posts: 89

    I guess thats the difference – I have 5 years of proven results :)

    #1005798
    LeelaCosgrove
    Member
    • Total posts: 634

    Mmmm … but what kind of results?

    It’s one thing to have done well from word of mouth and referral work – but that’s not enough to bring a sales person on board.

    The questions a BDM / Salesperson will ask:

    • Do you have a sales process committed to paper?
    • Do you have a sales script?
    • What level of success have you had with the first two?
    • Do you have a CRM?
    • How big is your database?
    • What kind of marketing efforts will you be engaging in to increase this?
    • Have you had a salesperson working on this before?

    If the answers are NOT:

    • Yes
    • Yes
    • Large
    • Yes
    • In excess of 10,000
    • Many and varied … expected increase of a few hundred a month.
    • Yes – and they made in excess of $100,000 a year.

    You’ll be hard pressed to find a GOOD salesperson who is willing to take it on. You can probably find SOMEONE – but if you don’t have the sales skills yourself to train them in how to be a great salesperson, then it’ll be a waste of your time and then. If you don’t know what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong, you’re not going to be able to help them course-correct and it’ll be totally hit and miss, in the dark sales.

    There is NOTHING more important in your business than learning how to sell.

    Put the time aside and do it.

    Because at the end of the day if you can’t sell, you don’t HAVE a business … business = sales.

    And with the slide in the economy that hasn’t really hit this country yet, this is going to become more and more obvious …

    #1005799
    linkartist
    Member
    • Total posts: 89

    Everything isn’t as easy as “put the time aside to do it” when you have a business, a shift working husband that is out for 14 hours a day, 3 kids, study & a thousand other commitments. It stops being that simple when you are literally working to survive. If you can think of a way for me to cram any more into my day, currently surviving on 5 hours sleep, then for sure… I’ll find the time.

    It’s nice that you can talk in bigger, more ambitious terms Leela, but that stuff really does not apply to micro business, or at least MY micro business. Most of us are just barely scraping by, living invoice to invoice, with our time maxed out and in all honesty, are not much different to the telemarketing guy on the other end of the line that you spoke to earlier.

    I for one am not interested in growing beyond boutique, so whilst the advice you have might be relevant to those who want to grow their businesses and/or are hungry to take over the world… many of us are not, and really just need the basics :)

    #1005800
    LeelaCosgrove
    Member
    • Total posts: 634
    linkartist, post: 5033 wrote:
    Everything isn’t as easy as “put the time aside to do it” when you have a business, a shift working husband that is out for 14 hours a day, 3 kids, study & a thousand other commitments. It stops being that simple when you are literally working to survive. If you can think of a way for me to cram any more into my day, currently surviving on 5 hours sleep, then for sure… I’ll find the time.

    It’s nice that you can talk in bigger, more ambitious terms Leela, but that stuff really does not apply to micro business, or at least MY micro business. Most of us are just barely scraping by, living invoice to invoice, with our time maxed out and in all honesty, are not much different to the telemarketing guy on the other end of the line that you spoke to earlier.

    I for one am not interested in growing beyond boutique, so whilst the advice you have might be relevant to those who want to grow their businesses and/or are hungry to take over the world… many of us are not, and really just need the basics :)

    Interesting … you say that it’s not relevant to you – but then say you’re not making enough money / don’t have enough time … How long are you going to keep struggling? Living invoice to invoice? You deserve MORE … that’s NOT the way anyone’s life should be – especially an entrepreneurs!

    It’s not just about taking over the world – that’s my MO but I know it’s not everyone’s … it’s also about LEVERAGING yourself and your time so that you can do what you love, make good money from it … and have time for your kids and your partner.

    That’s the freedom that having a business should give you.

    When people learn to sell, typically what is triggered off is a rush of ideas of how / what else they could sell … suddenly, as the work starts to rush in, they realise they can charge more. They realise that they can start to leverage themselves via products and by sending the excess work to other people in their industry who are struggling (for a small referral fee).

    The whole point is to learn to sell so that you have MORE time. Learning sales means thinking about your business structure, about how to develop a model that works so that you make the money you need to make and get back the time that you would rather be spending with your kids.

    We all have struggles … we all have reasons that it’s hard. We all have reasons it would be easier not to.

    But as my sales mentor loved to say “We are reasons or we are results”.

    It makes me sad to see people struggle when they don’t have to … when they could make it SO much easier on themselves by doing a few simple things … when everything they want from their lives is only 2mm away – but they are so blinded by their own burdens that they can’t see it … it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, but if you don’t break free of it, you’ll never break free of it …

    #1005801
    Burgo
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,099

    Selling is no different to anything else … when you first start, you WILL SUCK. You just need to stick with it … push through the hard bits … and then it gets easier.

    With all the great stuff that has been said in this post, this is the truth of the matter.

    I believe selling should be an individual thing not something learned from books. It sould be planned yet sontanious, and this my friends comes with experience.

    Someone said to me once ‘ you dont know how to close a sale’.
    My answer was I didnt have to. Thats why had outsold this person time and time again in the rag trade. You see you dont close the sale the customer does. All it is simply put is an ‘OFFER’ the salesperson and the ‘ACCEPTOR’ the customer. Basic rule of contract.
    If you have the product or service your customer wants you have a sale if you dont have the product or service your custiomer does not want you dont have a sale.

    Pushing the bounderies produces an anti customer.
    An anti customer is a customer with a long memory.

    Hope that makes sense
    I’ll try not to breath on you and give you a virus.

    #1005802
    Renee Barber
    Member
    • Total posts: 360

    I totally get and agree with what Téa is saying …

    I reckon everyone is getting a bit heated because we’re really getting into ideological differences and also the evolution from a sole trader configuration to a structure that has other employees and/or a formal referral and outsourcing network. The latter is probably what I anticipate doing, but it’ll be way down the track because I (and I believe this is the case for a lot of other webbies and designers) do the work I do because I love the feeling of creation so I’d never want to get so big that I regularly have to outsource.

    Anyway, here are some ideas that might help relieve some of the pressure (if you’re not feeling pressure, feel free to nap):

    • review your profit centres to find out what’s making you the most money so you can do more of it
    • raise your rates
    • review your target market. I personally love working with micro businesses, but there’s generally more money to be had working with corporates.
    • make your process leaner
      • Look at your overheads to see if you can reduce them by bundling services, etc.
      • Look at things you repeat often and try to reduce the time spent. If you design books (I do and I love it!), think about setting up macros to clean up all the weird flotsam that Word files accumulate and definitely (!) use styles.

    Finally, sometimes just taking a moment to ‘step back’ can help you see things with perfect clarity.

    #1005803
    linkartist
    Member
    • Total posts: 89

    Hey, I wasn’t being testy or anything — you’re right Renee, it really is just an ideological difference. I am not chasing money, I am not chasing any sort of accolades, and truth be told, I actually make more money than most people in my industry.

    Leela, sorry if I didn’t make it clear, I make enough money. I am a little overcommitted because I stupidly bought a new car on impulse, both otherwise, I was speaking generally about micro business & the experience and I think I wasn’t clear. Sorry!

    For me, I acknowledge for my business that there are skills that I need to invest in… but things really are not as simple as you make out. I perform business/family/life triage daily, to the point where I literally have no spare time. But eventually, as in any other triage, eventually everything gets seen to. Maybe its just that my priorities are so skewed right now towards the demands of a newborn that I don’t see it as clearly as I normally would.

    My question to you, I guess is whether you have kids. Because if you don’t then I don’t think you realise how complicated life becomes when you are trying to build a business, having literally built something from literally nothing, with the demands of young children as well. I can’t even get to one-hour web industry events (let alone any networking or conferences) for without giving my husband a month’s notice…because we have no support. It’s a big issue for us right now but it takes 2 people willing to make changes and we are working towards it. When you have kids, everything becomes about not just me making decisions, but how it affects the 4 other people in my house.

    The line between cold calling and telemarketing is such a fine one, people are getting their wires crossed between the two, I get that. But I choose to do my business differently, and cold calling is something I refuse to do… to take it back on topic… I hate it when people call me unsolicited, and it is not something I will EVER lower myself to in the name of growing my business. And I am actually prepared to not make sales rather than do that. Because to me, my business IS more than just sales & money. If it was about money, I wouldn’t have changed careers for it.

    There are areas that can change, for sure, but its not all about money, its not all about sales, and I choose to have a more personal approach to sales than simply asking 100 people and hoping that 5 are interested. Heck, I even turn clients away sometimes because I get a feeling… :) Because it’s not about money, its about quality, its about ethics, its about time for my family (even if I resent the responsibilities when I am tired like now), its about being respected and regarded highly. Money comes a close 80th in the list of my life goals.

    My business is pretty good. Beyond tire-kickers & time-wasters who never get past the initial enquiry, I have a 98% conversion rate on my quotes. So obviously I am doing something right. Its different to Leela, it’s not going to make me millions, and I am OK with that. Because I get to do cool things like run for the Upper House in a few years, and work with Rock Stars… my goals are just different and thats OK. And I can even kill the business if it stops being fun. I like that.

    Besides, I hate having to manage outsourced work. It is almost always of a lower standard than I would have, and I spend so much time managing it that its pointless and stressful. I have decided, after trying, that I actually don’t like this and am happy with my “little” stressful business.

    Speaking of which, screaming baby when I took 5 minutes to make this forum post… get it?

    #1005804
    linkartist
    Member
    • Total posts: 89

    PS, sorry for the length of that post — its embarrassing isn’t it :)

    #1005805
    peppie
    Member
    • Total posts: 525

    Tea, you should not apologise for being honest about yourself,,, and for being a parent!

    I am a mature gentleman father of 3 youngish children and it is not that long ago that I remember the effects of sleep deprivation etc. etc.. We too have no other support and for all such reasons you have my sincerest sympathy.

    In every other way I agree that one should run their business exactly as they see it. Yes, it is good to debate ideas and methods of business life and everything but ultimately it is your business and you have to run it the way you are happiest with. I keep a very open mind about all the thoughts of others here and elsewhere, but I too see things (like very cold type phone calls) that I have a fundamental problem with. If I don’t like being called up in the middle of something important by someone trying sell me insurance or…., then I have a problem doing that to someone else. But if that is your scene then I will not try to convince you otherwise.

    In a similar way, I know that there are ways in which you can pitch yourself and the words you use to pretty much convince a prospect to buy, but I refuse to do that because I see that as dishonest and manipulative. I will use an approach that will get me noticed and will get my message across, but I will not be “pushy”. There is much to be learnt and gained from the friendly and honest approach.

    #1005806
    Renee Barber
    Member
    • Total posts: 360

    As I was typing, I was smiling as I thought, ‘This forum is cheaper than therapy’ or so I’m guessing having never had the pleasure. :-)

    Anyway, Téa, I hope you managed to get some rest! I’m also very impressed it only took five minutes to type up your long post. [NB: I just re-read your earlier post and realised the five minutes seems to pertain to how much time you were on before being interrupted by screaming … I can only imagine how long it took to type the original post!]

    What I liked most about that post is it said what was probably on the minds of many other soloists, but they might’ve been too ‘scared’ to share. We’re often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things we have on our plate. There’s generally no ‘leaving it on the doorstep’ (especially for people who work from home) as we’re often ‘it’!

    I also really liked the comment about being able to stop doing it if it was no longer rewarding. I’m in the same boat and that is a very liberating feeling.

    When it comes right down to it, it’s about choices and deciding what’s most important to you: money, lifestyle, family, sanity, etc.

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