Hello everyone! Today I’m finally completing my four-part series: my “Four S” philosophy.
Let’s recall that my “Four S” philosophy comprises skill, self, service, and sales, as a comprehensive vision for success in business and life, and while skill and sales refer exclusively to business, self and service are more personal.
Today I will discuss something that is very important to any business. Sales. Every successful business has a sales department of some kind; even if you are *just* a freelancer, if you aren’t selling your product, you are either so successful that you don’t need to (anymore) or you are missing out on a significant increase in income.
Before I let loose my personal thoughts on the matter, I would like to recognize and pass on some important tips that only very recently have I begun to implement in my sales program. First, Corinne McKay has written that sales is the most important thing that most freelancers who want to be successful but aren’t yet successful are not doing (I’m paraphrasing). Andrew Morris has been quoted as saying that any excuse to pick up the phone and communicate verbally with a client or potential client is a good one (again paraphrasing-let’s just assume all of these tips are paraphrased to save time). Paul Urwin said that follow-up is a very important part of the process, one a lot of people miss. He says that after the quote is sent, many people stop there. In Tess Whitty’s podcast 53, Mr. Urwin indicated that by communicating with a potential client after the quote is sent and helping the client to decide in your favor by negotiating a bit or asking about the status of the proposed project, you can capitalize on what would otherwise be a lost opportunity. Jeff Alonso says that when you are cold calling you should say “Hi, my name is X from Company Y. Will you please connect me to the person in charge of hiring/contracting Z?” Even if they just give you a voice mail or an e-mail address, at least now you have a name, Mr. Alonso says. Finally, in Jonathan Pritchard’s recent podcast, Mitch Matthews said that if you are passionate enough about what you want, and you have a good plan about how to get it, you are likely to be successful (Dream. Think. Do.).
Now about me. The first of two main ideas that I want to bring to the table is that in sales, your product is the most important selling point. That is, if your product is good enough or innovative enough, then you won’t have to try very hard to sell it. For example, my uncle Larry invented a high-tech GPS product based on advanced mathematics and he literally had companies competing to give him money. Not all of us can be like my uncle, but if we excel at what we do, we certainly have a better chance at success than those who can’t back up their sales pitch with an excellent product, and if we can be innovative and/or specialized, that will open up markets and/or eliminate competition, respectively. A wise man once told me that in order to be successful you have to do what others are not willing to do.
My last point has to do with subjectivity. Sales is hard because you get a lot of no’s. Cold calling is especially difficult because people don’t like to be bothered and their response is usually negative. But it’s a numbers game – assuming your product is pretty good and there is some market for it, if you send out a million e-mails or make a million calls, someone is going to be interested. Especially if your attitude is polite and your messages are well-crafted and short. The point is that a salesperson may feel discouraged at the end of a long day of sales. It may feel like you have made no progress, and in my case, as a freelance translator, I not only feel like a punching bag at the end of the day but I also haven’t earned any money. Not directly anyway.
Feeling unsuccessful is not the same as being unsuccessful. Like other emotions, it will pass. And when sales pay off, and they do pay off, we’ll have done it ourselves, earning full pay rather than receiving half the money while doing all the work, as is the case when we work with agencies. Last paraphrase: a very successful friend of mine said that I should “just follow the process. Every day.”