The Vulnerability of Sales
There’s so much that we do in business that makes us feel vulnerable.
Of course we want clients to notice us and to be attracted to us, but putting ourselves out there can feel scary, because we’re opening ourselves up for potential criticism and rejection.
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I hired an agency to run Facebook ads for me and we went into the process a bit too quickly without much consultation and they ran ads to drive people to an blog post I’d written on what to do when your client can’t afford it. It was a great article for my audience and ideal client, but the ads also reached a lot of people who found the article confronting, triggering their issues around money and in turn a whole barrage of not very nice comments.
Luckily I was able to recognise the issue – that my content was ending up in front of the wrong people – and so I was able to detach myself a bit. However, it gave me a flavour of just how shocking it can be to come into your email inbox or your Facebook feed to lots of people who don’t agree with you, when all you’ve tried to do is share of yourself openly. So it’s no wonder we find ourselves holding back!
In business, you have to be vulnerable.
There are so many occasions in business where we have to be prepared to be vulnerable and to risk having our feelings hurt and our sensitivities challenged.
I think the sales conversation itself is, in some ways, even more vulnerable. Going into a conversation with just one other individual is an intimate, personal situation, so you might both feel things so much more keenly than if you’re communicating to a group of people. For example, if you post a video, chances are that any negativity will just be a drop in an ocean of positive feedback, which helps to put it into perspective. However, when you’re one-to-one with somebody, there’s nowhere to hide, making that sales conversation feel very vulnerable for you and the client.
You might be thinking….
“What if I accidentally say the wrong thing and offend them?”
“What if I come across as salesy or pushy?”
“What if they say no?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
This can be worse if there’s a lot riding on the conversation for you. After all, if you haven’t got a steady flow of clients the result of a particular call might make the difference between an easy financial month or a very difficult one.
So we can easily sabotage ourself by way of protection.
Subconsciously sabotaging the sale.
Our subconscious is so clever at “protecting” us from being vulnerable that it will start to sabotage us in different ways. For example:
- Meeting your perfect potential client at a networking event then “losing” their business card.
- Forgetting to follow up with a really important potential client.
- Finding all sorts of very “important” things to do first (for me it’s emptying my inbox).
- Making up stories about the person: “Oh, they’re probably too busy,” or “Oh, she was probably just being polite and she’s not really interested.”
- Setting up the sales conversation and sabotaging it by not having a proper sales structure, not taking the lead, or even failing to simply ask if they’d like to work with you.
- Avoiding setting the price or losing confidence when it comes to the money bit of the conversation.
We do these things subconsciously to protect ourselves but, in the long run, they hurt your business if you’re not getting enough clients. And if you’re not getting the clients you need, they are not getting the help they need… and you’re not getting to make your difference in the world.
But don’t lose faith! It’s absolutely possible for you to feel vulnerable in your business yet at the same time be strong and serve your clients
Here’s what I’d suggest next time you have a sales conversation…
1. Be gentle with yourself.
There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable in business. For many of us, it’s that vulnerability and that sensitivity that makes us so great at the work we do with our clients.
So instead of beating ourselves up for the thing that is actually one of our gifts, it’s far better to just be gentle – and honest – with yourself, and find a strategy that works for you to help you nurture and care for yourself. I like to sit quietly with a nice cup of tea and write in my journal.
2. Learn a structure.
Learning a structure to guide your sales conversations will give you a level of confidence that’s going to help carry you through some of the more awkward moments and transitions in a conversation. For example, The 7 Steps to Yes! is the structure I teach my clients so they can have effective yet comfortable sales conversations (you can sign up for the free video training here).
3. Connect with your Big Why.
Connect with the reason you chose to do the work you do in the first place. Start from a place of service and begin to imagine the problem or challenge that has made your potential client reach out to you. Think about how you might be able to help them to resolve that situation and what the impact would be on their lives if you they didn’t get help.
Doing this helps you to start to connect in to your potential client and in turn disconnect from what’s going on in your head.
4. Invite a potential client to explore whether working together would be a good thing for you both.
Positioning it as exploring removes pressure from both of you. Instead of seeing it as a conversation where you have to “close the sale” you can come from a place of service and put what’s best for the client first. This is possible because you’ve connected into them and guided them through a structured sales conversation so that if working together is the right thing it will be clear to both of you, making it easier for you to guide them in a supportive way towards their decision.
Be OK with being vulnerable
Chances are you’ll feel vulnerable quite a lot in your business, particularly if – like me – you identify as highly sensitive. But please don’t allow that to hold you back from getting your gifts out into the world because there are people out there who need your help.
You can be vulnerable and courageous at the same time. So decide to be brave, take a deep breath and reach out to your ideal clients.
What about you? Do you relate to what I’ve said about that feeling of vulnerability? Please share in the comments below – I always love to hear your thoughts. And of course, I’d love you to share this if you know anybody else that you think would find this useful.
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With Love & Gratitude,