I’ve had a revelation over the last few months. It became really clear to me after attending conferences this fall and meeting so many business owners.

I realized it after hearing story after story from business owners how much they realized they need to be better at marketing. But I’ve yet to meet someone who acknowledges they need to spend more time selling. Marketing and sales are not the same thing. Many business owners learning about online marketing have bought into the idea that sales come from capturing email addresses, hanging around on Facebook and Twitter, and sending out an electronic newsletter frequently. They don’t most of the time; if you’re in a service business, you’re eventually going to have to talk with a real live person.

I have met very few business owners who like the process of selling. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those who do are highly successful.

But making a sale is the point in business, whether money is your motivator, or not. So mastering how to do it in a way that is comfortable for you is very important.

What I have found to be true is that often our discomfort is less about the “sale” and more about the meaning we associate with it.

Here are some common variations that come up for many of us:

?Selling is sleazy. I don’t want to come across like a car salesperson.
?Selling is about being forceful. That’s not my style. I don’t want to have to pressure someone. I shouldn’t have to convince someone.
?The value of what I offer is obvious. Once I present my information logically, the person who is interested will buy. I shouldn’t have to ask, they’ll tell me when they’re interested.
Selling is a skill that can be developed, and like any effective skill, has a technique and a process. There are lots of training tools and tips around. I encourage you to learn as much as you can. But to make it easier for you, I’m going to share the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned. It didn’t come to me through business, but through the years I spent involved with the fundraising profession (I’ve been on both sides of the equation – donor and fundraiser).

Fundraising is not for the faint of heart, and I think that’s why so many ex-non profit employees and volunteer fundraisers end up being very successful in business. The fundraisers I’ve known are some of the nicest and most savvy people I’ve met. As a fundraiser, you work for months and even years to build relationships with potential donors. There is a cycle of identifying and attracting good potential donors, cultivating relationships with them, encouraging them to make bigger and longer term gifts, and encouraging their willingness to continue making financial gifts year after year. When you think about it, it’s the ideal strategy for a business should follow.

So what do successful fundraisers do, besides have a strategy and a carefully designed process? They have two golden rules.

1.Assume the yes.
2.Ask!
This advice is probably more important than having the perfect thing to say, or beautiful sales packages. Provided you’re clear in who you want to attract as a client, what value you provide to them, and how to explain your services in a way that is meaningful the answer should be yes most of the time. How often depends on you and your business. The answer might not be yes today, and it might not be yes to everything you offer. Your clients will not decide to buy according to when you want them to because you need the money today. You can control this to some degree by the way you design your packages and services, and this is why you do need to carefully craft options for your potential clients that also provide you with the best chance for continuous cash flow. But the point is, no mostly means not yet.

There are lots of steps you can take that would take several pages to detail. But the most important thing you need to get over, if you’re afraid the answer is going to be no, is you. Know your value, create the packages of services that your customers want, and be able to confidently explain them. Listen to their needs, respond to them in a way that is human and shows you understand and can help them, and give them examples of how you can do so. Make suggestions, and ask them if they’d like to know more about working with you. The more you approach it this way, the less like selling it will feel. Based on the discussion and what you know about them already, you’ll know without a doubt that you can help them. Making the ask (often called closing the sale) is natural, and because you’re able to then confidently quote your price and your terms, the answer will more often be yes.

When you get a no, don’t feel discouraged and rejected. Be prepared with responses to common objections, and have a consistent process to follow up again. It’s common for someone to say no several times, over a length of time, before becoming a valued customer. The problem is, if you assume the answer is no, give up to soon, and fail to ask again, you’ll never know!

Author's Bio: 

Sherri Garrity is the Chief Corporate Fugitive and creator of the Five Keys Success System™ for ex-corporate employees and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to break free from the confines of their corporate experience and unlock their business potential for greater personal freedom and prosperity. The Corporate Fugitive system demystifies the business of setting up, managing, marketing and growing a successful entrepreneurial adventure. Visit www.corporatefugitive.com for free tips on how to unlock the business in you.