Independent workers bear additional responsibility; they not only must perform their work, but find work as well. Winning new contracts takes more than luck and a good body of work. It requires having a consistent plan of action to keep leads flowing into your project pipeline. It requires a commitment to add “working on” your business as a fixed item on your weekly agenda.
Putting off business development is not an option for the solo worker. Inconsistent business development can subject you to an inconsistent revenue stream. To avoid the dreaded feast or famine cycle, independents must learn to become “rainmakers.” Relying solely on one or two large contracts may work in the present, but your future success is dependent on how you acquire new business. The way you sell has an impact on your ability to win new business. Here are 6 ways to help you improve how you sell and learn during the sales process.
1. Show Your Value
Independent consultants often consider themselves experts in their field, not sales people. But you may be better at selling than you think. Selling is a natural process that is integral in much of our day to day life. Have you ever presented an idea to a board, committee or client? Have you ever interviewed for a job? Have you ever convinced a child to just try a new food? These are all examples of selling. To learn to excel at selling, remember it’s simply a process of helping people determine whether or not your product, service or idea has value to them.
2. Learn from Rejection
Rejection is a reality in selling. In fact, rejection can help you in your solo business. Rejection can illuminate what clients expect and help you to become better at uncovering needs, discovering roadblocks and better communicating solutions.
3. Be proactive
There is no greater feeling than the phone ringing with clients wanting to do business with you. Whether through referral or discovery, they found you and they want to learn more. Responding to opportunity may be preferable, but it is important to be proactive in cultivating a steady flow of opportunity. This means setting up a regular process for cultivating selling opportunities.
4. Manage the sales process
Preparation will help you to effectively manage the sales process. This includes preparing for things that could go wrong, such as getting stumped by a question. Selling your services does not require you to have all the answers. On occasion, a prospective client may ask a tough question that cannot be answered in the moment. When this occurs, acknowledge the question and commit to following up with an answer.
5. Scale the sales process
As an independent consultant, you have to be especially conscious of how you spend your time. You want to engage in routine lead generation while still maximizing your billable hours. A little sales planning will help you to get the highest return from your efforts.
6. Create a lead generation plan
Conduct activities that allow you generate leads on a regular basis. This may include activities to get referrals, using social media more effectively, optimizing your website, and becoming a thought leader. For other lead generation tips, download our guide.
It can be tempting to keep your head down, do the work and hope that the business will come. However, as an independent professional it’s your job to let people know about the solutions you offer. People may not like being sold to but they do like to buy. Organizations need your knowledge and expertise to solve problems and help them move their business forward. Selling is the first step to connecting their needs to your solutions.
To learn more about how to sell consulting services effectively, download our guide.
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