If you are at all like me, you probably started in the design profession because you had a passion for art, design and technology. You enjoyed doing the work, being a problem solver and creating beautifully functional things.
You probably liked helping people as well. You got great satisfaction from seeing clients pleased with what you’ve produced. But, you soon realized that there is more to being in the design business than what you thought.
What I realized, rather quickly, is that we are not solely in the design business. We are in the business of selling.
We are in sales.
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Now, you may be saying, “Well we still have to design, you know…do the work.”, and that’s true. But hear me out here…
The main function of your business is sales
You sell prospects on the benefits of working with you, you sell your design work to your clients, you sell your ideas and strategies, you sell yourself on the value you bring, you sell old clients new services, and the list goes on.
Your business depends on this more than anything else. Without sales you don’t have a business!
It’s really that simple.
I really didn’t want to sell—at first
Now, let me tell you, I’m no expert salesman, but I’ve learned to embrace sales as a core function of my business.
I was very apposed to the idea of ‘selling’ at the beginning of my freelance career. It sounded really cheesy, and just plain…not my style. It was very difficult for me to come around to the idea that I HAD to start selling.
What changed my mind was my first slump.
In the first little while of my business, things were humming along. My network of friends and associates gave me a good stream of business. I had it pretty good in the beginning.
The problem was that I had it too good.
I literally felt like the work would just keep coming! Boy, did I need a dose of reality! Then my first dry spell happened.
It was rough.
I almost had a panic attack. I questioned everything. I wondered if this career was really right for me.
I’m not normally that much of a drama queen, but it was tough. I had a family to support.
Luckily, I was smart enough to have a savings buffer of a few months, so we weren’t crushed finically (another good tip). What I realized in that time is this, you have to sell, all the time—it is essential.
I really had to banish my fears and misconceptions of selling.
You don’t have to be a stereotype
Selling doesn’t have to be a pushy, in-your-face type of activity. In most cases, that is a technique for failure. Selling is simply finding people who could benefit from your services and convincing them that you can help them and better their lives.
That’s a much better way to look at selling. After I got that, it made the idea of integrating selling into my business life much easier.
Here’s the deal. You probably love helping people’s businesses and organizations succeed, and you love doing design. Now, to do more of that, you must sell. You can’t help many people if you don’t sell to them.
The fact is, you’re in sales already!
You convince others to your way of thinking all the time. When you want to go to a certain movie, you try and convince the others in your group as to why that movie would be the right choice.
It took me a long time to figure that simple truth out. Once I did, however, it gave me a lot more control over my business.
Here’s an example
The other day a really great client of mine sent me an email for a small job. It was a small advertisement design for a mailer. I knew that a lady in their office had expressed interest in blogging for the company, so I asked if now would be a good time to get the blog up and running?
He agreed that it would be a good idea to set that up. Now, that small job turned into a larger job just with a little suggestion. I wasn’t pushy or rude. I didn’t try and guilt them and make them feel that if they didn’t go with a custom blog that they would lose business. I simply suggested it, and mentioned some benefits. That’s all.
When I started out, I wouldn’t have even suggested the idea for fear of being to aggressive. I’m certainly glad I changed my mind!
Start taking sales seriously
Things don’t always go well, even when you sell to your current clients. Rejection happens. People seem like they are interested and then they simply lose interest and fall off the face of the earth.
Many times you do have the power to turn it around, but don’t get discouraged if you can’t.
Keep pushing and selling your ideas, and your business. Read those books on sales and personal development that maybe you thought were corny before.
There is a ton of wisdom out there to help you better yourself in this area. Most of all, keep a positive attitude. You’ll be able to do more of what you love and make a good living doing it.
Now, to you!
Have you ever had a fear of selling? How do you overcome it? Share stories, tips and advice in the comments on this post!
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