"Sales" Made Me Feel Sick to My Stomach

Cathy Roth
Posted by Cathy Roth on Nov 17, 2021 12:23:14 PM

Things I love - numbers, numbers that line up in orderly rows, numbers that are missing and just waiting for me to find them, numbers that follow predictable rules. I love the rationality of numbers. Heck, I even like numbers that are irrational! (I know, bad joke). What don't I like? Sales. 

The fear of taking a role in sales is probably the number one reason I never started my own business. The entire idea of selling legitimately made me sick to my stomach. 

And then I actually learned something about sales that doesn't make me feel sick.

At its core, sales is nothing other than negotiating a win/win. Someone has a want or need and you have the ability to fulfill that want or need. Sales is about building a relationship - allowing you to get to know someone, learn more about them, and then fulfill their need or want.

When I made the mental shift that sales truly is about building a relationship so I can help someone else, the whole idea became less frightening. 

Many accountants and bookkeepers are just like me - loving numbers and hating sales. How can you start to feel better about sales? Here are some easy-to-deploy steps. 

1. Accept that it is okay to make a profit while you are genuinely helping someone. 

When I really examined my aversion to sales, I discovered that I didn't want to "take advantage" of someone else. I had built a paradigm that included sacrifice as a component of helping others. I was wrong. Sales is about building a relationship leading to a win/win situation. The win for the client is that you solve their needs and/or wants. The win for you can be that you are helping someone and it can also be that you make a profit so you can continue to help others.

In other words, it's okay to do well by doing good.

2. Listen. Then listen more. 

In Hamilton, Aaron Burr tells Alexander Hamilton, "Talk less. Smile more." In sales, the lyric would be, "Talk less. Listen more." Potential clients may come to you asking for a bookkeeper. And while they do need a bookkeeper, there are usually reasons far beyond bookkeeping.

You can only negotiate a win/win once you truly understand the potential client's wants or needs. As you listen, ask questions to help them identify their real pain point, which may take some digging. 

As you listen, you need to determine how (and if) your services would solve their pain point. Also, determine if the potential client has the ability to engage with you and if they should engage with you. Their ability to engage is not just limited to financial means. It also includes other factors that you define as important. Would they meet your ideal client profile?

3. Offer solutions to their pain points.

If you approach the conversation with the goal of selling your services, you will be far less successful. Instead, show how your services will solve their pain. Relate your services back to their real pain point, not just what they asked for when they first contacted you. 

4. Solve their objections.

As you offer solutions to their pain point, they may have objectives. Some objections may be genuine, i.e., they have specific questions about your services. Others may be less factual, i.e., they may be feelings - worry, concern, anxiety. Regardless of the type of objection, listen. Give them the opportunity to explain their objections and ask questions to find the actual concern underlying the stated concern. Then, provide honest, genuine answers to their concerns. 

5. Be willing to walk away if it is not a win/win.

Only engage with the potential client if both of you win from the sale. Will your service genuinely solve their pain? Will the engagement genuinely benefit you - both in terms of profit and in terms of other criteria you define? 

Most importantly, remember that you are building a relationship and negotiating a win/win. 

There is no need to feel sick to your stomach when you think of sales. Instead, sales can be the reason to celebrate as you create win/win relationships.

Here is a "secret." I set aside 30 minutes every day for education. My favorite go-to resource is HubSpot and HubSpot Academy. You don't need to be a HubSpot user to read and learn. You can even earn certifications. Here is a HubSpot blog article about relationship selling

Finally, relationship building is also key to marketing.

Topics: Practice Growth


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