I’m not a professional salesperson, but I recently learned some sales lessons that can be helpful even for non-sales people. I needed help on a pitch email for a prospective freelance client, so I reached out to my friend Nick Rundlett who hosts a “sales mastermind group.” He invited me to tune in to his weekly chats, in which a group of sales-minded people get together to talk about challenges they’re facing and pool their brainpower to find solutions.
My attendance really paid off. I got the feedback I was looking for. Mixed in with friendly jokes and general sales advice, the other participants in the mastermind group rewrote my draft. This showed me different ways I could approach my email.
As I was reviewing my notes from that meeting, I realized that many of the ideas I learned could apply to other parts of life and work. Nearly all jobs include sales elements, customer service, and general communication. Here’s what I learned:
- Make it about the client.
In the first rough draft of my email, I focused too much on myself. Every sentence started with “I.” It included things like, “I want to do X.” or, “I like Y.” The group showed me that this isn’t the right way to appeal to potential clients—it’s better to make it about them. Turn the “I” into “you.” For example, suggest a solution to a problem they’re facing. Cater to your clients’ needs instead of your wants.
- Do the work beforehand.
The biggest strength of my original email draft, according to the group, was that I had some sample work attached showing exactly what I was offering to do. This makes a potential client much more likely to say yes because they know you can deliver. They don’t have to take risks on potentially empty promises. This is a great tip, especially when applying for jobs. The quickest way you can prove your ability to do a job is to do it. Create the sample video, spreadsheet, ad, or whatever it may be, and send it in with your pitch email.
- Don’t overthink it.
Sometimes you don’t need great sales tactics to strike a great deal. The first email I was planning to send was to someone I already knew. I was trying too hard to come up with a cold email when I didn’t need to. Overthinking can cause you to waste valuable time, during which your potential client might find someone else to solve their problems. Maybe you’re crafting a pitch for a website redesign. You might spend days coming up with a list of suggestions or building a whole new site. Then you find out someone else got to the client quicker, or you find out the client is more interested in solving different problems. What if, instead, you started with a smaller proposal? You could get your foot in the door with just one suggestion. Then you can open up the conversation to find out what the client really needs.
I’m extremely pleased with what I learned while attending Nick’s mastermind chat. Focus on the client, do the work beforehand, and don’t waste time overthinking. These three lessons can help you improve your success in all kinds of jobs, and even in your day-to-day life.