In a recent meeting with my coaching group, our discussion was in response to a question posed by one of us: How do I sell myself better?
We all pooled reading material, and our experiences, and came up with seven steps that we think can lead to success in closing the deal–whether it be landing a new client, or getting the funding you need. I want to share those steps here, because I like the clarity of them, and I think they can be helpful to anyone who wants a reminder or advice in making a better impression and clinching the deal.
Step 1: Answer the right questions. Sonal Uberoi was looking for a content editor for her website. She found a website, called contentedstrategy.com. The site is not fancy, in fact it’s quite plain. But, as Sonal stated, the wording touched all her buttons; all the questions or doubts she had about her content needs were answered and she felt right away that here is someone who understands her and can provide the support she wants.
Step 2: Show confidence. We all had watched the TED talk by Amy Cuddy, entitled “Your body language shapes who you are”, and where one of her more memorable statements is “fake it until you make it”. Alana Moceri, who teaches Political Communication, and often speaks on television, knows full well the importance of body language and showing a healthy dose of confidence and assertiveness to get one’s point across, to make sure that you’ve got your audience’s attention and that they’re listening. You can’t be seen to waffle or hesitate.
Step 3: Use your referrals. We all agreed that the majority of our business comes through referrals. Candy Lee Labelle takes it a step further. She asks her happy clients for referrals. She mentions her referrals and posts their endorsements on her website, in a variety of different places. It’s best to keep in touch with your old clients and old friends; they will be the ones, in most of the cases, to get you your new gigs and clients.
Step 4: Give value for free. Whether it be on a first call or a follow up meeting, or just in a chance encounter or cocktail, provide a couple of takeaways that are useful for your potential clients or leads. They might not hire you, but they will remember you. Importantly, you’ve done a good deed, while you’ve shown your lead and yourself what you know and how helpful you can be.
Step 5: “Ask” for the sale. You’ve had a half hour talk with your potential client, you’ve explained everything you can do and listened to their needs. Don’t hang up or walk away without directly asking them “Are you interested? Would you like to move forward?” This shows that you are serious, and, let’s face it, is a way of asking them if they are. It puts the potential client on the spot, and engages them in a sense of commitment, one that you show you are ready to fulfill.
Step 6: Wait. Learn how to shut up. You’ve answered their questions, you’ve explained who you are and what you do, you’ve given away some good advice, maybe you’ve made your “ask”. Now, shut the f*% up. And listen. Sometimes it’s hard to stop telling others about ourselves, our talents, our results, our visions. But it isn’t about you. It’s about your client. It’s about the person in front of you who has come to you for advice or help in their work. Now it’s time to sit back and hear what they have to say. And really hear it.
Step 7: Provide the next steps. Take the lead, to wrap up your call or conversation, and say what you will do and what can happen next. This will provide a sense of confidence in your ability to not only help your client, but also to take over the matters that they don’t want or can’t manage and want to put into your efficient hands. By suggesting the next steps in your relationship, you’re already taking them by the hand.
We all agreed that the above 7 steps are key. But as we continued talking, more important ideas came up.
As Sonal mentioned: Use basic language. She doesn’t want to see fancy wording on a website. She wants clear, well-written content that tells her exactly what she needs to know as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Alana learned in her fund-raising days back in California that you can’t ever let your lead think that all you’re concerned about is the money. In her case, she said, if someone ever thought I was already calculating the commission I was going to get, that was a lost deal. So: Make sure it is not about the money. Sure, we all want to earn the money we need, and that is what the client and service provider relationship comes down to also. But, first and foremost, it’s about the service you can provide; it’s about helping that client. The money will come.
Sonal also waxed poetic, from a conversation she had had with a potential supplier– “She made me envision the many things I can do with my project.” In other words– Fuel their dream, feed their imagination. Aside from responding to how you can help your client with their stated needs and goals, give them other visions–show them all the other possibilities that can come out of their decisions when they work with you.
These are our lessons learned and the steps that we hold dear. We hope they can be useful for you too.
Alana Moceri, Political analyst
Candy Lee Labelle, MBA Spain
Sonal Uberoi, Spa Balance
Gwen Alston, MocaMedia
And here we are, strutting our stuff: