If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll undoubtedly have gone on – or you’re still going on – the journey of figuring out what sets you apart from your competitors and how to go about selling yourself in business.
You may also be muddling along, trying to get everything together, but you don’t have any proper goals in place. Well, once upon a time, that was me.
In this post, I’m going to give you a starter to my thoughts on selling yourself in business and how we grew the business so we could get MORE prospects through the door. This will differ from business to business, so I’m simply sharing my story.
So, let’s get straight into it – read on for the next chapter of the Diary of an Entrepreneur!
You can’t survive without clients – and there are plenty out there
People often have the misconception that there just aren’t enough clients out there who are interested in their services. For the most part, that’s absolute nonsense. There are plenty of businesses, and plenty of people WITHIN businesses, that want the products and services that you’re supplying.
When it comes to selling yourself in business, we’ve been in many situations before where we’re pitching against competitors. Fortunately, though, I wouldn’t say that’s where most of our revenue comes from. It’s a dark art and it’s difficult.
We’ve won a small percentage (though a significant percentage for us), but you’re potentially up against 40 other agencies – some who have had way more experience than you, just because they’ve been at it a lot longer, they’ve got a bigger team and they have more resources. So, we try to avoid pitching at the moment.
‘What’s your USP (Unique Selling Point)?’
It always bugs me when people ask this question, because 99.9% of answers will fill that hole with something meaningless. You’ll make stuff up that you know the other person wants to hear.
The truth is, our USP is the fact that we’re there in that moment, having a conversation with the prospect. They know our USP better than we do, because they – the prospect – found us amongst a sea of video production agencies.
Let’s be honest: our USP is our people. There’s only one of me, our Lead Editor Luke, our Production Director Saxon, and so on. We’re all unique! That is our USP. However, getting that across without sounding like I’m trying to cop out of answering the question is really difficult.
The reason I’m sharing this is because it’s cropped up often before, and I’ve always stumbled on it. In video production, it’s really hard to specify your USP because video agencies all have the same things. We’ve all got the same kind of cameras, staff, processes and cool content.
Furthermore, I think it’s more important to know about your VALUE PROPOSITION when selling yourself in business.
Ask instead, ‘What’s your value proposition?’
Your USP is basically your value proposition in disguise. As a business, you need to know what that is.
We’re constantly working on and tweaking ours. It’s not perfect at the moment, because we do a lot of things for a lot of people, and getting that into a succinct, short sentence is really difficult.
The value proposition is: What problem do we solve – and how can we solve it for YOUR business?
What’s more, you need to have a few different versions of your value proposition when selling yourself in business:
- Fitting it into just a few words.
- Fitting it into a sentence.
- Finally, a few sentences – your 15-second elevator pitch that you can use verbally or on your website or social media.
Growing the marketing side of the business
When it comes to sales, one of the big mistakes we made in the early days was just expecting the phones to ring off the hook. We also relied heavily on current contacts and word of mouth – but this wasn’t going to grow my business. We were starting to exhaust that contacts list and sales began to dry up.
This was when I knew there was a problem: the sales pipeline was looking ALL too familiar. It was the same names, and we desperately needed to add new faces to that client roster to feed growth and improve sustainability. We were also getting to a stage where we’d lost a couple of clients, which had had a drastic effect on the business.
So, what was I going to do?
I realised that I had to learn everything I could about marketing. When selling yourself in business, other forces have to be at play other than your little black book (which is all I had back in the day – now it’s my contacts list on my phone).
So, I had to go back to the principles of how I acquired my first client by cold calling – the more proactive exercise. Now, I hate cold calling, and I haven’t done much of it since the early days. If you’ve read my earlier blog post on how I won my first client, you’ll know this already. However, I still had to return to those basic principles of proactively getting myself in front of new clients.
The importance of setting goals and targets
So, there was a lot at play, and I needed to get smarter with my sales. I needed to do things that I hadn’t necessarily been doing beforehand. However, I also needed to set goals and targets so we had something to aim for. This is crucial when selling yourself in business.
Again in the early days, this is something I wasn’t necessarily focused on. I was simply concentrating on bagging one sale, after another, after another. They had pound signs attached to them, but they weren’t in any particular order or organised in any way. There was no orchestration of sales and cashflow vs targets and goals. It was literally whatever we could get our hands on – out of, at the time, desperation.
Back then, there was no method to growth – it was just us saying, ‘Right, who needs a video?’ and just going at it. Now, however, there are goals and targets and we’re reverse-engineering everything. I’ve got a much clearer idea of how I want the business to be structured.
For example, I own the business – I’m the one who’s dedicating blood, sweat and tears to this, and have been for basically my entire life. I want to be able to look after my family and afford the little luxuries – so what does the business need to do and achieve to be able to pay for that? And what are the exit plans for the business?
If you reverse-engineer all of these little things, you hopefully end up with a set of goals and targets. I think it’s really, really important to have that when selling yourself in business – because without it, things are very cloudy. You’re just doing things for the sake of doing things – you’re swinging at a ball without a bat.
Whether it’s revenue targets, an exit strategy, client numbers, staff numbers… whatever it is, it will help you with client acquisition and the lifetime value of clients.
So, that’s my two-cents about succeeding at selling yourself in business. It might not work for every business, but it’s certainly working for mine – and I can only hope that we continue to build on that success.
What are your sales strategies? Have you made any mistakes in sales that have changed how you operate? I’d love to hear your business stories. Get in touch with me here or you can email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org!