I don’t believe in the hard sell.
I believe in people.
Take a look around the internet and often it feels like you are in one huge marketplace. People are screaming at you from all sides.
“Buy what I have to sell”
“Pick me, pick me!!”
“My stuff’s better than your stuff”
“Buy these trouser legs and you’ll get the seat free”
Only in the corner of the market, hidden away between a fast-food stall and the fishmonger, sits a stall holder who isn’t shouting. A steady stream of customers make their way to the stall, they leave with what they came for, happy for a quick, smooth transaction without any fuss or shouting. They are repeat customers. Perhaps they have found the stall-holder by accident, or by word of mouth, but once they realise that he has just what they need they rarely feel the need to go elsewhere. They avoid the gimmicks, the useless freebies and the hassle. Perhaps they pay slightly more than in other areas of the market, but they know that they are buying quality. Everyone goes home happy.
Word of mouth is great. People love to tell others about the great service they’ve had, the place they go to for certain items or services, or the hard-to-find artisan who is passionate about their trade. I found my garage mechanics this way, and now I’d hate to go anywhere else; I know that they treat me fairly and have my best interests at heart, and they know that I’ll give them return trade and recommend them. They don’t advertise and ask all new customers where they heard about their services (they are located in an area you probably wouldn’t go down unless you needed one of the local services situated nearby). I also found a great beer this way… a friend at North Hop knew I was after an alcohol-free beer that didn’t taste like ditchwater, she bought me some BrewDog Nanny State, and now I have a quality drink that will allow me the odd brew when out and about (yes people, I am always the designated driver). See… the power of a great service, without the hard sell.
It’s easy to say that word of mouth is great if you already have an established clientele, but what if your clients don’t necessarily talk to each other? Well everyone has to start somewhere, and great customer service speaks for itself. True, you have to get found, but screaming to the marketplace won’t necessarily help.
Here’s what I’ve found can help:
- Be yourself. There are enough people out there giving the hard-sell – just be yourself, sure you won’t see results overnight, but why pretend to be something you’re not? And let’s admit it… going the hard-sell route is tiring and can be soul destroying.
- Don’t be too modest, it’s easy to forget that we may know more than others… what is easy to you could be a hugely specialist field for someone else. Yes, I’ve fallen into this trap… what you take for granted (say, after years and years of doing the job, training and just living your life) can actually be pretty special, you just don’t realise it.
- Don’t shout when a whisper will do just as well.
- Try to spot opportunities where they arise, don’t be shy to let people know what you do, and put it in layman’s terms if necessary.
- Help people. Yes… help people. Be an altruistic worker. Don’t do something hoping to get something at the end of it, just help someone if you know you can and they need help. Don’t do a day’s work for nothing, that defeats the object… but if you see someone in genuine need of help, why not see what you can do. Five minutes of your time could mean the world to someone.
If you believe in people, people will believe in you (yes, really… well the ones that matter anyway).
Try leaving behind the screaming and the yelling of the marketplace. Rather than shout, take time to see what you want and create a path to get you there. A good business plan can be worth its weight in gold. Getting out there is hard, but being confident in yourself and your services is key do doing well.
Still not sure how to get “out there” without shouting? Try these:
- Social media. Don’t scream your presence, but get out there and talk to people.
- When someone asks you what you do, tell them straight. Don’t mumble “ah well… I…”. Think of a way to get across what you do in as few words as possible, but in a way that people understand, or in a way that gets them asking for more. I’m an Independent Word Wizard, or a creative consultant for your words. Potential clients are far more likely to remember you for this.
- Be professional in your tranquility. There’s nothing worse than a pushy freelancer.
- Join groups, either physically or in Internetland, where your services may be required. But join because it interests you, and you can contribute, not because you see it as a way in to paid work.
- Be confident. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I said at the beginning of this article that I believe in people, and it’s true. I treat people how I would expect to be treated, and I like helping people. It may not make me rich, but I know that if I’ve helped someone along the way, given them some advice or shown them how to help themselves, then the world is a better place.
It also keeps my professionalism intact.