Even seasoned experts have to face the harsh reality that great work can’t protect them from having to market. Marketing and sales are life skills essential for survival. If you want to do what you love, here’s what it takes to get past that “first date.”
Back to School
For many professionals, finding
yourself at the bottom of the “revenue learning curve” is a frustrating
experience. To make matters worse, your target buyers are on a steep learning
curve about what you can do for them. The key is to enlighten both yourself and
your buyers. Knowing how to market and sell, then skillfully applying this
knowledge to your buyer is what will get you there.
There are four stages to climb on your
journey – picture a staircase or ladder, with one stage on each level:
Clueless. You don’t know what you
don’t know. This often manifests as frustration with your buyer – why don’t
they get it?! Can’t they see you’re the best? For your buyers, it could be that
they don’t know you exist or that they see little difference between you and
your competitors. Ignorance can be bliss, but it won’t get you more business.
Anxious. You’ve become aware that
there’s a lot you don’t know. Reading this article could move you to this
stage. Witnessing a colleague or competitor win a contract that you missed out
on could do it. For your buyer, this could happen if you do a free needs
assessment, or send a short case study illustrating client successes they’ve
not been able to achieve on their own. Bottom line: you’re more motivated to
close the gap between your current state (in pain) and your desired state
(pain-free and successful).
Confident. Armed with new knowledge,
you feel more confident. With some effort, coaching,
courage to try new things, and small
successes, you get better results. It takes effort to do the right things, but
you’re on your way. For your buyer, this stage means they see “What’s In
It For Them” to do business with you, are confident you can solve their
problem better than anyone else, trust that you’ll not let them down, and see a
clear path of action to get their needs met.
Competent. Like tying your shoes,
this is when it feels natural and easy. You’re probably here in your chosen
profession. With the right approach and accumulated successes under your belt,
you’ll get here with marketing and sales. It’s a blissful place to be and will
get you more business than you ever thought possible!
Brains and Beauty
Facing your “revenue reality”
can be a tough pill to swallow. To make it easier, give these things a try:
your knowledge. Read articles about marketing and
sales that you might not normally bother with. Attend a talk or workshop about
marketing or sales that typically wouldn’t make it into your schedule. Expose
yourself to new ideas and different
one new idea and try it. Start small, get some
successes under your belt, keep moving. Aim for one new “revenue action” every
week…then every day!
# As you start experiencing better
results from your actions, you’ll notice
a shift. It won’t feel like such a burden. It’ll feel like a natural part
of what you do. It won’t be “someone else’s job.” You’ll actually
start to enjoy it.
patient with yourself and the process. You
didn’t become an industry expert overnight, nor will you become a great
rainmaker instantly. If you really want the freedom to do the work you love,
you’ve got to commit to the life skill of funding your passion for the long
# Don’t let naiveté or arrogance stand in your way. Marketing and sales are not
about hustling, twisting arms, misleading, or shameless promotion. They’re
about solving buyers’ problems and sharing what you know, in a way that
connects with and empowers them to choose wisely.
Next time you’re tempted to rest on
your laurels (and not get out of your comfort zone), reconsider. Marketing may
not be as difficult as your chosen profession, but it’s still a stretch for
many. Your willingness to try new things
that most others won’t puts you ahead of the other fish in the sea!