That’s right. You have to learn to sell. It isn’t enough to take your big idea to the people. You have to learn how to sell your stuff. Whether that stuff is products or services, your big success depends on sales.
A business mentor of mine once told me, “If you aren’t making a profit, you don’t have a business.” In other words, if it’s not making a profit, it’s a hobby.
So many startups and small businesses get by every year by selling just enough to pay the bills, including the salary or income of the CEO or President or whatever you want to call yourself. That’s not a real business. It’s getting by and getting by isn’t creating success. Success is when you make a profit.
To most people selling is the scariest thing about being an entrepreneur. I would venture to say it’s second to speaking in public. Both are necessary to success if you’re an entrepreneur. We’ll talk about public speaking another time, but for today, let’s talk about how to sell successfully.
The Woman Entrepreneur
Women entrepreneurs are looked at differently than are men entrepreneurs. As in many things, except being a housewife, women are considered lesser than men. There is often surprise on people’s faces when a woman succeeds at developing a new business, or starting something other than a daycare. Don’t get me wrong! Daycare is a job that should be honored to the ends of the Universe, but it’s also something the world considers woman’s work.
Today’s energetic woman of a certain age (that can be 25 or 35 or 75, I don’t care) wants to start a business doing what she loves, beyond society’s expectations.
These women are talented in design, product development, teaching, training, and a boatload of other skills. They want to use their talent to create. They want to then sell their creations.
It’s so simple it’s laughable.
Go ahead, you can laugh.
Laugh with me, not at me. Here’s the thing, though. These women are emerging entrepreneurs and they are breaking the mold. You don’t have to dress like a man, or talk like a man, or swagger like a man.
In fact, in most cases, it’s preferable that you celebrate your femaleness to it’s ultimate level, and leave the men struggling in your dust.
A Business is Born
Once a woman has decided to take her desire public, to create a business, she suddenly becomes shy or worried about how to manage that business. “How do I stand out?” she wonders.
In many cases, these women have sold product or services, for minimal amounts, and clients or customers have convinced them to go big time.
You see, the initial sales ‘just happened’. It was wonderful. People discovered the products/services and one or two paid money for them, and then three or four did, and then those people told other people and boom! A business was born.
A business was born on the premise that the products would sell to … a bigger market.
The women who experienced this were suddenly thrust into a world of mystery and shadows.
“I don’t know how to sell!” they cried.
And so, they didn’t really sell. They went to craft fairs, or build a website, or attended little women’s groups for attention, and they talked about their products with the pride of any mother for her favorite child.
And, some sales came, some didn’t.
When they realized they had to sell truly, sell outside of their comfort zone, sell to a wider group of people, they sighed, sat back, and lamented their fate.
The Sales Cycle
The sales cycle starts with you and ends with you.
Just the same way you create the product or service to sell, you need to create the cycle for sales.
It starts with understanding your goal market. I don’t use a target market, though that’s the usual market speak, primarily because as a woman I prefer not to be someone’s target.
In your sales cycle you look at the goal market as the group of people you plan on selling your product to. These are people you have identified as interested in what you make. You aren’t going to sell galoshes to a duck, for instance. Even if you think the duck needs them.
Choose your goal market carefully.
Next, find out where they hang out. Go hang out there.
Ask open ended questions. Something along the lines of, “What would prevent you from buying… xyz?” Make them give you more than a yes or no. This is often done on social media using quizzes or polls or just questions.
Present your product for sale, both online and off, if it's more of a touchy-feely product like food. Maybe that should be touchy-feely-tasty!
Online use social media, use etsy or other online markets, use ebay. Offline, research and attend local gatherings that allow you to showcase your goods or services.
Now sell. But, don’t sell by throwing your stuff at people. No matter how great you are, how great your products are, if you throw them at me, I'm going to wonder why. And, once I suspect you of ulterior motives, I am less likely to buy from you.
Sell by demonstrating the usefulness or attractiveness or other amazing feature of your products. Sell by sharing stories of how you became you and how what you sell makes your clients feel better, look better, or some other ‘better.’
And then, don’t rest on your laurels. You must develop a customer service mindset. You must learn to upsell and resell and build confidence. You must ask for testimonials.
You must repeat these steps over and over and over.
You can do it.
If you need a deeper dive into this subject, ask your questions in the comments.
I’m watching… (want to share in an email, instead? I’m good with that. Email me. )