How to make sales not feel sleazy

Photo used under Creative Commons courtesey of Kevin Dooley

Photo used under Creative Commons courtesey of Kevin Dooley

One of the scariest things for creatives is making the sale.

While most creative's love doing creative work, they absolutely hate the idea of sales.

For many creatives, sales can feel sleazy. 

For others, they simply don't know what to do and botch every potential sale they come across.

In this post, I am going to cover a sales technique that is extremely easy to learn and that will help you turn sales from something intimidating, into something fun. 


Ask questions

One of the biggest problems with creatives is that they often go into client meetings trying to sell themselves and talk about how great they are. 

People don't care about you.

Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Duncan Hull

Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Duncan Hull

People care about themselves and their project.

People want to be heard and understood.

When you go into a meeting with a potential prospect, you have two objectives:

  1. Gain as deep understanding of the prospects needs and desires
  2. Build trust 

You can only do this by one way.

    Ask a lot of questions.

Ask questions until you have a crystal clear understanding of the clients needs. 

This is the easiest sales technique you could ever learn and it works wonders. 

"The confident ask questions to learn what will connect. The insecure just keep talking with the hope something will stick." - Simon Sinek

When the client feels confident that you understand what they are trying to accomplish, then that client will feel confident in hiring you. 

Many people spend their meetings trying to sell themselves. That is why they feel sleazy. 

Instead of selling yourself by bragging, sell yourself by being a professional and listening to the other person.

If you can do this, sales will come easy, and they won't feel sleazy. 


What questions to ask?

While this may sound simple, it does take some practice to become good at. 

To start, I have included a list of common questions that I ask clients below. I don't ask every client all of these questions but these are just a handful that I pull from in my initial communication with prospects. 

  • What is the purpose of this project?
  • What is your timeline for this project?
  • Are you the final decision maker on this project, or are their others involved?  Don't waste your time with interns or people without the authority to make the decision, if you find out that they don't have authority, ask them to schedule a meeting with the decision maker
  • Do you have any examples of other references that you do like?
  • How does your business make money?
  • What is the demographic of your customer?
  • What went wrong with your previous contractor?  Often clients will reach out because they had a poor experience with a previous contractor. This is a huge red flag. Make sure to find out what went wrong and approach this job with caution
  • Do you need any help with marketing or copywriting for the site? Do you need any help with rebranding or logo design?  Always look for opportunities to upsell additional services beyond what a client originally came to you for. 
  • What does a successful project look like for you?
  • Do you have a budget set aside for this project? Clients won't always answer this. But often they will go into a project with a specific budget in mind. If you can pull this out of them then you can design your proposal to fit right within their needs. 

These are just high level questions, but be sure to prepare questions that are specific to the clients needs.

Dive into the nitty gritty details and get specific. 


Ask follow up questions

As you take notes, be sure to tag on 'follow up' questions as well. 

A 'follow up' question is a term from the journalism field where you ask an initially planned question, then when the client responds you ask a 'follow up' question based off of their response.

This requires you to think on your toes, but it is essential to getting a deep understanding of the client. Asking follow up questions is a skill. It is something that takes time to learn. 

Practice a bit with each meeting you take, and over time you will master this skill. 


The key to making the sale


Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Ky

Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Ky

Don't just go in with a list of questions and read them off a list. 

Listen to the prospect. 

Listen to their needs and desires. 

Do your best to gain a deep understanding of what it is they are looking for.

People want to be heard and understood. 

So listen to them.

Hear them.

And when they feel that they have been understood, they will feel confident in buying from you. 

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