'Heart-centred business' is a term that I'm coming across more and more. They are loosely defined as businesses that have a central mission of doing good: offering a product or service that improves the customers life, that 'improves the world' in one form or another.
One heart-centred business coach, whilst describing the sector, went further and said she believed that most female entrepreneurs were in the business of doing something they loved and that they felt added something to the world and were, therefore, heart-centred.
Today I read an article by yet another coach who said that sales was tacky, and that heart-centred businesses needed to learn to sell without using 'nasty' sales tactics. Her words.
ALL businesses, whether they see themselves as heart-centred or not (and I would also say that most are heart-centred if we use the above definition but certainly wouldn't call themselves that), need to sell and, by virtue of that fact, have sales focused conversations. If they don't, they won't get clients. The trick is to learn HOW to sell in a less 'aggressive' way, not to stop selling altogether.
1. Your client has a need. Your business can fill that need. Your client has come to you as they know you can fill that need. In order to do that, you need to understand more about their need; to tease out the details, so that you can cover off all the angles. That doesn't necessitate a full-on sales presentation but a conversation. A friendly, polite, non-threatening conversation full of questions and answers. If you think that successful sales conversations need to be 'in your face', full-on, 'I'm-not-leaving-till-you-sign-here-whilst-shining-a-light-in-your-eyes' moment, then you need to think again. They don't, and they aren't.
2. Sales is all about building relationships. If you build a comfortable relationship with a client, or potential client, then it will become sustainable and profitable. For both parties. Too many 'experts' will tell you that sales is a dirty word, as is profit. They aren't - they are vital and critical to your business success. Experts suggest that 60-70% of sales are made after a word of mouth recommendation. Those recommendations come from happy clients, with whom you've built a relationship. From SELLING to them. Finding a way to sell that works for you, and then being hot on your customer service metrics, is all it takes.
3. There are lots of different sales methods; some people find that they work best in a more factual way, others in a more visual or descriptive way. Me? I'm a believer in bringing my personality into every business transaction; showing my client or potential client that they are important to me and that my business will do everything it can to fulfil their needs by keeping them at the centre of what we do. I call it my Arm Round The Shoulder method. I sell without them even realising. I'm kind, courteous, genuinely interested, and 100% committed to giving them the best business experience they've ever had. The best sales experience they've ever had. I've never sold in any other way, and my way has always been successful. People buy people.
I feel I need to end by saying that sales is not the baddy in business. It is too often portrayed as a shoddy, nasty, unnecessary thing, particularly by coaches selling to female founders. They pander to women's nervousness around selling and try to convince them that they (the coach) have the answer to building a business without selling. It's just not true. I don't know one business that hasn't had a sales conversation. Or perhaps I should change that: I don't know one SUCCESSFUL business that hasn't had a sales conversation (I know plenty of UNSUCCESSFUL ones that haven't).
Building confidence in your sales abilities, and learning to sell in my 'Arm Round The Shoulder' way, is a much better solution. Plus it's a thousand times more likely to garner results than ignoring sales focused conversations altogether.