I’ve been hitting the pavement, not out of frustration but in need of sales. Yeah, I have been putting words into practice and going out there to sing my song. To practice my elevator pitch, not quite as polished as I reflect on losing my words as soon as I was faced with potential customers’ enquiring eyes.
I went to bed excited, looking forward to a good night’s sleep. I lay my head on the pillow giddy as I thought of all the yesses I would collect. Seeing myself with all the obvious attachments riches can buy, a shiny me whirring past in my new car going from business meeting to meeting. The only thing that met with me was dread as the hours past. I didn’t sleep a wink. The ecstasy of glory turned into something very real as my alarm went off. Fear.
When ironing a shirt takes too long
I was still vaguely excited of course. But more so fearful. What was I going to say to these people? Where will I start gleaning contacts? I drank my coffee slowly, ate breakfast slowly. Anything to delay the inevitable. Suddenly, I couldn’t decide what to wear and my hair just wouldn’t cooperate. Before leaving the house my only frustration seemed myself, my own mind, not even people saying no to me and my business.
I finally left the house and I drove through a few areas. I felt like a stalker, looking into businesses, scouring the local CBD for my next big break. By now I’ve already hyped myself up so much I could run a marathon around the city. I discovered this:
What not to do:
- Look disheveled
- Hype yourself up to a point where you feel anxious
- Being unprepared
- Not having sales aids or tools
- Trying too hard to the point of being inauthentic
- Not having a follow-up plan
- Taking too long to leave the house not planning the day before
- Just winging it
- Using outdated methods to engage with innovative customers
- Not researching my customers
- Don’t be desperate, don’t Resort to harassment to wear down resolve in order to get a sale
These are some of the mistakes I made. However irrational my fear was, I knew I had to work through it. I think my fears were more about me holding onto my old self. The person who was pampered and safe in my little employment cacoon. Being fed and petted every time I did what I was supposed to do to keep my job.
I was fearful that I would be lost as soon as I left the house to go make my own way, to be in control of my own professional life, start to finish. I knew that as soon as I hit the pavement and knock on the door of a customer, I would cross over. Unable to return to that person I used to be. I will have a hand in making myself severely uncomfortable. I will have no more excuses to hold myself back. Because I am proving that I can do it.
And so it was, as soon as I went to knock on a few doors, heard a few nos (thankfully, no hell nos yet). I crossed over. Felt a knot each time but pushed trough. I didn’t get a yes on my first day, but I got a lot of maybes. That’s fine, a maybe I can work with.
A lot of the time cold calling a customer is about making contact. It’s a brief introduction, something that leads you to a follow-up meeting if you can get a hold of the right person. Other times it’s trying to get past the receptionist, who is well briefed in dealing with my repping types. I take my hat off to you. But it’s a challenge, it’s something to bounce back from. It’s asking myself, so then what will I try next to get to the right person. That decision-maker, who might give me a yes?
Getting to yes
- Be prepared
- Ask a different question
- Then think creatively
- Sound and be important (be able to back that up). This should make you ask questions about the readiness of your business to service clients properly
- Be at the right place at the right time, where else can you find these decision-makers besides at their office?
- Research the companies you call on
- Be noticed, update profiles, join business communities, engage in activities where business professionals meet
- Look the part
- wash, rinse, repeat
This certainly isn’t an instant heat microwaveable result. Its something that takes time and effort and great care to cultivate. It’s your future clients who will have the ability to make or break your business. The people who will review you on public platforms and encourage others to do business with you. How can you ready your business for these customers?
Get ready for that yes
- Have sales aids: flyers, business cards, something to leave behind
- Follow up with a call after a few days and set up a meeting
- Practice your pitch, but let it flow into the conversation, don’t be a parrot rattling stuff off.
- Know their problems or create the “want factor”.
- Know how your business can solve the problem or satisfy their want factor
- Have paperwork ready: create spreadsheets for customer profiles, sales agreements, contracts, etc.
Crossing over again and again. It seems I will do this until it becomes a new habit. Training my brain! I’m evolving and becoming better and better with each step I take. With every no, yes and maybe heard. I wrap my brain around it and dissect it, studying it thoroughly until I can find possibilities and solutions. Being an entrepreneur, for me is about my evolution in business. Happy to make profits as I go along but also happy to discover how I grow as a person each time.
It’s being brave enough to let go of the comfort I’ve come to know and love. To challenge myself forward. To do what needs to be done for my business even when I am afraid of rejection. I have found that it’s better to regard my customers as people who want the same things I want. Good value! This makes them instantly more personable.
They don’t bite
After a while, I learned to use my fear of rejection. I gave myself a pep talk before entering each door: the worst they can say is no, they won’t kill you or swear at you and tell you to get out unless you sell offensive nonsense. They won’t (and shouldn’t) bite you. I found that people are often polite even when it’s a no. They see that you’re trying to be productive and you’re trying to do your job.
By fitting your product into their needs, they see that you care to make a real difference in their business and you’re not just there to ring up sales. That’s when I get a yes when I can convince someone of this.
Do it afraid. I never had the courage or all the words as I stepped into an office or made a call. I collected my courage on the way and discarded fears by the wayside as I went along. So does one have to be brave? No, one just has to be willing to try.
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Picaso
Until tomorrow, dear Diary