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The Writer As Salesperson

13 October 2010 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

See original story on AboutFreelanceWriting.com

As a writer, I never thought of myself as a salesperson. But these days, I’m honing my selling skills.

Working with a veteran sales coach, I’ve developed several tools that are now landing me great clients. One of the most important is a sales script.

This journey started about two years ago, when my client list dried up. I had spent the previous nine months working on a couple of major projects for one big client. When the book and workbooks were done, I didn’t have much other work.

It was the classic business pitfall. I had focused so much on production, I didn’t bother with sales and marketing. When that one major client went away, my income dried up.

Around that time, I also launched a website www.ghostwriter-needed.com targeted at my ideal clients. To my amazement, I started getting responses very soon after. I had a steady stream of inquiries.

I was very excited to talk to these new potential clients. But the conversation generally went something like this:

Potential client: “I want to write an X. How much will that cost?”

Me: “For that type of project, it will cost between Y and Z.”

Potential client: “Ok, I’ll get back to you.” Click.

And I would never hear from them again.

After several times, I realized this wasn’t working. I was like a fisherwoman, surrounded by fish, but unable to catch anything. I had tons of client leads, but no sales.

I knew I had to learn how to sell and close a deal.

But I hate sales!

Yeee-uck! Sales! I hate sales! I’m a writer, not a sales person! I shouldn’t have to sell! I don’t want to sell! I thought.

But I also have to eat, I told myself. I don’t believe in being a starving writer.

So I took several classes on sales and marketing through SCORE ( www.score.org), a low-cost national business training group. Fortuitously, one of the trainers of the sales class was a former magazine publisher who had run a very successful publishing company. At the end of the class, I asked him to be my coach, and he said yes.

I had known that SCORE offers free coaching services to entrepreneurs of all industries, but I never imagined I would find someone appropriate for writers. I was amazed by my good fortune.

Over several months, my coach helped me develop a sales script. I have learned that it’s not so much about selling, as it is about truly understanding a person’s motivation, wants, needs and resources, and how I can best serve that person. The secrets of selling can be applied across all industries – including writing.

Working with my script and refining it over the last year, I have been able to connect with strangers on a very deep level, completely understand a project, provide a quote that makes sense, and yes, close the deal.

To be sure, I already knew much of this intuitively. But the sales script now gives me a structured way to ask questions, so I can offer new clients exactly what they want.

Although I am mostly a writer, understanding sales and having a script is enabling me to serve more people, while fulfilling my life purpose.

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang.

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