Over the past few months I have been looking into the world of sales in the creative industry, interviewing freelancers, small business owners and training professionals. The main thing I’ve take away from my recent research is that there’s still so much to learn!
I’ve been hearing some conflicting advice: “Never give away work for free” versus “Get busy first, make money second”. But apart from the polarising topic of money the advice falls in to the following broad patterns.
Never stop selling
Taking your foot off the pedal is never an option. John at Quirky Motion Film & Illustration Studio recalls the time when the first influx of projects dried up at the beginning: “We had energy at the beginning, jobs were coming in and we assumed that is how it would continue and then when it didn’t come in we were like Ahh! But when we hit that point we started asking people for advice. You don’t grow a business by writing theories down like business plans, you grow by meeting people and doing good work.”
Never stop following up
Building a rapport with a potential client is not a one-off thing, you may need to have a couple of touch-points and that can sometimes feel intrusive. Aisha from Zenith Street consulting has found that a lot of her training involves speaking into a mindset of intrusion fear: “People worry that they are being pushy, encroaching on their personal space, they have a mindset that selling is an intrusion and no-one wants to hear it, but you need to stop looking at it as a sale, you are a business developer, they need you!”
Believe in your worth and avoid people who don’t (politely, you never know when they might come back)
Knowing your worth doesn’t just mean ‘bigging yourself up’ in public, this is a deep seated sense of ownership and understanding of what you offer and, in a best case scenario, how it differs from the competition. Being able to quickly and passionately communicate this to prospective clients will help them to also buy in to your worth. But even with this under your belt you’ll still come across people who don’t share your view: Brian Storey from Kapow Network Media Agency recalls being asked to ‘just think about an idea in the bath’! This is an immediate indicator that the person does not see the value of the work you are offering. In these situations it would be a waste of time to continue along your sales pipeline with them, but cutting them off completely could be an error too; we are all on a journey, keeping the door open could allow for a relationship to develop further down the line.
Learn from the ‘No’s
Rejection can be hard but time and time again I’ve heard of the same journey of realisation that going solo is harder than we think it will be. Failures occur more regularly than wins. All business owners are full of pride about their business but when that pride creates an inflated ego that can’t bear to be bruised it will turn into a curse. Each sales pipeline that ends in a ‘no or not yet’ is a chance to learn what went wrong, it might not be down to your approach but thoroughly analyse it just in case it might be. It’s easier to record this process if you have a reliable and easy-to-use system in place, I use Capsule CRM to follow these successes and failures and report on them.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are very confident that their ‘way to do sales’ is the most effective and yet they all differ so much. Sales needs to fit into your way of working, there may be some comfort zones you have to leave but generally if you are not being yourself in the market then the rejections are going to come thick and fast. As part of my personal 1:1 coaching service I spend time at the start of every session learning about you and your ways of working. Harnessing what comes naturally to you is a huge part of my goal to bring your business to a place of growth. Please get in touch or book a free discovery call to find out more.