3 Common Selling Strategies for Your Small Business (and Which One Actually Works)

Everyone knows that a thriving business needs customers; finding them, however, is usually much easier than getting them to buy. Recently, I've noticed a wide range of methods for obtaining new business in a variety of fields.  In freelancing, blogging, and social media, specifically, I've seen the greatest range of tactics.

They go something like this:

1.  Hang out your sign... and wait.  

Possibly the most ineffective way to get clients, many writers, especially, build a website, print up cards, write a few guest articles, and wait for the phone calls.

I'm here to tell you, they won't be calling.  Unlike the old "if you build it, they will come" mantra, there is too much competition for writing gigs to even consider this a good method -- even with the best free advertising.  Those writers who are making it are not using this approach. I promise.

2.  Bug everyone you know for a writing gig (whether they have one, or not.)  

The other side of the spectrum has you begging, pleading, and annoying the heck out of everyone you know with a website or publication.  "Surely", you think, "if they print words, they need a writer."  Consider that many businesses use PLR, free syndicated content, or their cheaply-paid interns to get their message out, and any paying gig they have is likely filled.  Your constant nagging to let you write for them may be falling on deaf ears (and worse, empty pockets.)

3. Build a resume.  Build relationships.  Build your empire.  

The third way (and most effective) takes some time, but it's well worth the ride.  This method involves honing your craft, getting very good at what you do, and working with people who can speak to your talents.  Do some pro bono work for a reputable company; involve yourself in some charity projects, write well on your own blog.  Then, when you feel competent, go out into the world and make friends with those who will appreciate your skill.  Finally, as you take on more challenges in your business, ask these new friends for support and help -- just be sure to offer something in return.  If you do this very well, the business will come.

My Proof That It Works

How do I know this?  Because it's what I've done for my own business.  I started out writing for $5 an article for some guy in the Philippines in 2007.  The next year, I was doing freelance work for a number one finance blog.  The next thing I know, I have co-authored a book, consulted for the larges big box retailer in the U.S., and am working alongside one other full-time partner and have a virtual assistant.  I have even had to turn away work.

I didn't do it by treating my work like a door-to-door sales scheme.  I created something valuable, and I made friends.  The friends recognized the value, and asked to purchase.  It was natural and effective -- perfect for those who hate selling.

I realize that not every work-at-home career will have such a romantic feel.  Selling insurance may not seem like it will work with this method, but it will!  (Everyone needs insurance, right?)  If you're good at what you do AND you're a trustworthy person, eventually people will come to you and say, "I can trust you.... and don't you sell insurance?"

Do you have a tale to tell about a natural sale that just "happened?"  Have you ever felt like you've had to try to hard?  We want to hear from both sides of the table on how you're doing with marketing your business.  Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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