But I’m not a salesperson, you say … I’m a freelancer, consultant, programmer, web designer, etc.
Guess what? Once you decided to freelance or start a web business, you gained a new job description: Business Owner. So what’s the purpose of this enterprise you’ve undertaken? Most people think it’s “to make money”—but that’s not a purpose, it’s a result. According to the renowned Peter Drucker, the purpose of business is “to create a customer.”
Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.
Let’s look at that one more time: “…the purpose of business is to create a customer.” Is that what you wake up thinking each morning, that I must create a customer? Or is it to design, program, search-engine optimize, or whatever other technical skill you perform for your client?
Make no mistake—in order to create a customer, you must provide something of value, something that improves your customer or client’s circumstance. But you don’t get to do that unless you first create a customer. In other words, nothing happens until a sale is made. Marketing is everything you do to find and be found by potential clients. Reaching an agreement to do business with those clients is selling, even if you don’t call it that.
Sales … selling. Do those words leave a bad taste in your mouth? After all, you’ve probably heard that old-school direct selling and outbound marketing are obsolete, now that we’ve entered the enlightened era of social media and inbound marketing. But regardless of how a lead is generated, that lead is still just a lead unless turned into a sale. And that requires … well, selling. Admittedly, the type of selling we do—consultative selling—is a far cry from other types of selling. I’m not suggesting you behave like a used car salesman; but I am suggesting you act like some type of salesperson and (dare I say it?) … sell your services.
That begs the question, are salespeople born or made? I believe that anyone can learn and master the skills needed to successfully sell their services. But even if you do, it isn’t a given you’ll be successful. There are innate characteristics you must possess to be a success. The following comes from a landing page I stumbled upon, entitled Great Salespeople Are Born … Then Made. It claims that:
“…the vast majority of high performance salespeople start out with three personality characteristics that cannot be taught … you either have them or you don’t.”
That got my attention, needless to say. Here they are:
- Need for Achievement
I’ll take it one step further and say that these characteristics are a prerequisite for the entrepreneur, business owner, or successful freelancer as well.
But, here’s my question. The company claims that you must “start out with three personality characteristics that cannot be taught”—implying that you must be born with these traits, or develop them at an early age. As a sales trainer and sales manager, I know firsthand that I cannot “teach” others to have drive, competitiveness, and optimism. But can we teach ourselves? Can we learn to be more achievement-oriented, competitive, and optimistic? Post your comments below.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.