Writers, in fact all professionals, better learn how to become a sales animal. The definition of "sales animal" is someone who actually sells, not just tries, not just makes up excuses about why the sales aren't happening.
Full Disclosure: I wasn't always a sales animal. I didn't need to be. I was in a niche within a niche where there are few suppliers and high demand. Then that niche within a niche disappeared, as many are doing every day. I learned how to sell as well as coach others in sales. That's because we needed and still need to eat. And in the current economy you only get to eat what you kill as a sales animal.
Here I boil it down to five simple steps:
- Frame selling as a growth opportunity. Every failure and every success are teachers. To take advantage of them we have to deconstruct what we did well, what not so well, and what we probably better not try again, at least until we get the bugs out of the technique. There's no limit to the enhancement of our ability to sell.
- Pitch from a position of strength. For me that means using my three syndicated blogs - here and here are the other two - as well my twitter site to contact prospects, current clients, new and present members of my network, and the media. That's what I'm good at. I put on a catchy subject head. And, yeah, it's just follow the money after that. Find out what you're good at. It might help to page through "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
- Mirror. That's the oldest and most fundamental sales tactic in the world. It means making a rapid assessment of a person's beliefs and lifestyle, an organization's culture, the pace, the keywords. Yes, it's imperative to do that and then assume as much of that "protective coloring" as we can, without coming off as a caricature of what we're trying to imitate. No, we can't just be ourselves. We can be the best version of what role we are playing. A helpful read might be "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" by Erving Goffman. Yes, all the world's a stage. According to Goffman, even the provincial butcher knows that. He prepares his body language, words, and facial expressions to meet and greet customers, prospects, vendors and competitors.
- Read the emotional space. Enter it. That's a key point designer Garr Reynolds makes in his book "Presentation Zen." We are emotional beings, not rational ones. Had the latter been the case, there would not have so many and such diverse Madoff victims. He appealed to the human need to feel special and included.
- Less is always more. Distill the message to its core and then figure out why that matters or should matter to the buyer. A useful read is "Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less" by Marc Lesser. There's an adage among top salespeople: Get in and get out fast. If a prospect is taking too much of our time, they are not ready to buy. Move on.
Do you sense you cannot just leap into the world of sales animalness? It might be worth the investment to enroll in a long-term hands-on marketing and sales seminar. Usually they are tax-deductible.
The best around seems to be offered byDale Carnegie Systems. In 2002, in the Hartford Metro/Western Massachusetts area I took an eight-week intensive Dale Carnegie course with Michael Francoeur. We still keep in touch [firstname.lastname@example.org.] The amazing thing about the Carnegie method is that its instructors primarily view their instruction as a mission, not a profit-maker.