The Secret to Sales Success is not to Sell Anything

After my post about selling your services I posted a few questions on Brazen Careerist to find out how other entrepreneurs and freelancers felt about this issue. The responses I got were great, but one important point stood out. Kim LaSalle said: “I’ve never ‘sold’ anything. Honestly. I recommend strategies or tactics based on client objectives. I don’t believe in selling someone something they don’t need.”

She raises an excellent point. In truth, selling your services isn’t about convincing a client to buy. It’s about offering them an opportunity to grow their business…with your help. If you’re offering something with true value to the client, then it’s their job to be receptive to ways they can better serve their clients–and your job is to help them do exactly that.

This mind-shift, a slight change of focus, suddenly made the idea of a sales call a lot less scary. Because suddenly it wasn’t a “sales call.” It was a phone call to find out if there was anything I could do to help a fellow business owner. And who doesn’t like to get a phone call from someone offering to help them achieve their goals?

If YOU don’t view your services as legitimately helpful, how can you expect potential clients to view them that way? Think about the services you offer and decide for yourself: Is this a legitimately helpful service I’m providing?If not, perhaps you should rethink your business plan.

By no means does “helping others” mean you shouldn’t charge for your services–after all, if the work you’re doing is valuable, they will see a return on it. You’re helping them make money, and you should receive a portion of that return (i.e. the amount that you charge for your work). Kim (who currently owns a marketing and public relations company) evaluates this when it comes to billing, and operates on a value-based billing system (charges based on returns).

Doing so allows her to balance her workload with different clients at different rates. While I’m not sure how this could be structured for a writer the majority of the time, it is already being used in some sections of the industry (think websites that pay based on page views or corporate clients who pay for direct mailing pieces), and perhaps we can consider how it would work in other ways; clients may be more comfortable investing in a service if they know that should the service not perform as promised they can get their money back.

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