Have you ever heard that “sales is a numbers game”? According to that idea, you just have to “pitch” your services to a lot of people, and some of them will become your clients.
Many sales trainers teach this: “Every no means you are closer to a YES!”
If you’ve actually tried this, you know that it’s brutal...
To most of us heart-based people, trying to “sell” a lot feels intimidating. We feel that it’s an inauthentic way of connecting with others.
What if there was an alternative way to think about it, that felt more aligned with the heart… and perhaps more effective in the long-term?
Try this instead:
As you talk to people who might (or might not!) become your ideal clients, put yourself in the mode of understanding and helping them.
Try to find out the issues and challenges they’re struggling with. Each conversation is an opportunity for you to practice empathy. To aim, however you can, towards a purer intention of service.
You probably know some person or resource that can be helpful to them.
In some cases, it turns out that your offering is exactly what they need and want right now. If so, that's great! You can then say something like: “This is actually the kind of work I love doing with clients. Happy to answer any questions if you’re interested.”
But first, come to the conversation with an attitude of helping, being unattached to whether they ever hire you. If it becomes apparent that they want your help, you can simply answer their questions, doing it all from a place of authentic helping.
On the other hand, when sales is only seen as a numbers game, you may have to talk to 100 people, and maybe you only get 20 new clients… which means 80 rejections! Even if you’re an extraordinary salesperson and 60 out of 100 people become clients, that’s still 40 rejections. Nobody enjoys that. It’s an assault on the soul.
Imagine all of that time spent trying to sell to people, to have to keep vigilant in those conversations for a bridge to start talking about your business. It’s inauthentic, and exhausting.
Instead, when sales is seen as a process of understanding and helping, then you might still talk to 100 people, but it feels very different. You are genuinely curious about what they’re going through and what kind of help they need, whether it’s an idea, resource, tool, referral, or simply, kind and attentive listening.
You will then be occasionally delighted to discover that what they need is your service or product. Let it be a surprise, rather than a planned, ulterior-motive kind of thing (“I’m pretending to help you but I’m actually trying to sell you.”)
Just help people.
As a result of your mindset shift, you’ll no longer be churning through people, but instead you’ll be serving everyone you connect with, bringing more light into their lives, and acknowledging the infinite worth of who they are.
Serve, rather than sell.
It is a deeply enjoyable process. And not surprisingly, some of the people you talk with, will come back to you as a resource, and perhaps become your client or referral source.
Whatever happens, you are embodying the Golden Rule:
Treat others with the kind of understanding and help that you, too, would love to receive.
This post was originally written in 2017, updated in 2021.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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