Are you uncomfortable with slimy things? Frogs. Slugs. Newts. Fish. Worms.
Maybe that uncomfortable feeling is why people think of sales as “slimy,” “greasy,” “slick,” and worse. Maybe thinking of sales that way is why you don’t get the business you deserve?
More than one nonprofit consultant has told me “I hate sales.” It doesn’t seem “authentic” to who they are. Maybe it’s the fear of not being sure you can deliver what you promise? Is it the time it takes when you could be doing “real work?”
It could be that if you “hate sales,” you don’t really know what sales is.
The popular culture view of sales is all about forcing, fooling or otherwise hood-winking a customer into buying something they don’t need or otherwise wouldn’t have bought, simply to enrich the person who sold it to you. Top of the list are people who sell used cars, investments, and insurance. (And before you say “I know honest people in these businesses,” so do I.) I’m sure you can think of others. But when you think about it, every day you buy things from sales people and never give their trustworthiness a second thought.
What’s the difference?
They solve a problem for you. Need to eat? You have a favorite grocery to sell you food. Need gasoline? You probably have your “go-to” place.
You know them. Whether by reputation or personally, you have a level of trust with them or the brand they represent.
They’re easy to buy from. Whether they accept your credit card or cash only, they’re conveniently located, or they answer the phone right away, being easy to buy from gets your business.
So how about you? Is there a specific problem you solve for a nonprofit? When your name comes up in at an executive staff meeting, does someone smile and say “yeah, I know her!” When they call or email, do you answer right away, or soon?
Sales isn’t forcing people to buy “because time’s running out” kind of pressure. It isn’t showing up uninvited to strangers. It isn’t convincing them they need a major campaign when they really need a letter.
Sales, especially sales in the nonprofit sector, is about a relationship between two people, each of who knows that they will benefit from the transaction so they can each meet their goals: yours to make a living, and theirs to fulfill a mission. It’s about being happy at the end, and not regretful.
So, get out there and connect with nonprofits. Tell them what you love to do, and make it easy for them to connect with you when they need you.
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