AS another 'past-due' bill arrives in the mail, you finally accept that you need to increase your income. Although you know that you should start selling something in your spare time to generate extra cash, you're terrified at the thought of asking people to purchase something from you.
You overlook your forebodings and bake a batch of cupcakes that you hope to sell at your office. You timidly ask a co-worker to support your venture, but she declines because she is watching her weight. You decide to give away the rest of your inventory, resolving that selling is not your forte.
One of the complaints I get from people who wish to make more money is that they dislike the process of selling. They may say that they are not natural salespersons or that selling is too hard. If you feel apprehensive at the prospect of asking for money, you may think that you hate to sell.
However, if you were given a guarantee that every person you approached with your wares would immediately buy from you, would you still be afraid to sell? Probably not. What really frightens people about sales is the concern that other people might reject their offerings.
Don't take it personally
If the fear of rejection is hampering your efforts to earn extra income or increase your business revenue, you must realise that a failure to make a sale is not an indictment of you personally. Don't think that your lost customers didn't like you or that you were being a nuisance to them.
Receiving a negative response to your sales pitch is also not necessarily a reflection on the quality, desirability or attractiveness of your product or service. In fact, on a daily basis you may refuse to buy dozens of wonderful products and services without even thinking about it.
Imagine that you're shopping in a supermarket. As you walk down the aisles, you pick up your favourite brands, bypassing the competitors' offerings. Although you choose one option, it does not prevent competing brands from making sales to other customers who prefer their products.
Evaluate a negative response
If you are going to overcome your resistance to selling, you have to remove the negative emotions that you associate with an unsuccessful sales attempt. Instead of wilting in shame when your offer is refused, try to assess some of the possible reasons why you may have lost out on the sale.
Sometimes, persons you approach may not be able to fully process your sales pitch. If they are preoccupied with work or other pursuits, they might not be willing to commit the time to listen to you, and may dismiss your efforts without really considering the value of your product or service.
Many people are also burdened by financial concerns, and any request to spend money may be spurned instantly. Their defence mechanism is to say 'no' to additional demands on their budgets, and your sales offer may be viewed as something that would only increase their money problems.
Identify your target customers
More often, aspiring entrepreneurs just don't give enough thought to the process of determining their prospective customers. They just cast out a wide net by promoting their offerings to a large circle of people, hoping that enough of them will bite the bait and buy.
To increase your success rate, you may need to be more discriminating in approaching potential buyers. Think of your offering and describe the customers who are most likely to buy from you. How old are they? What gender? Where are they located? Form a clear picture in your mind.
Although certain groups of people may desire your product or service, it doesn't necessarily make them your target customers. A buyer's wants must be backed by the ability and willingness to pay, so ensure that you select a target group that can actually afford your product or service.
Test before you sell
It's also important to determine the usefulness or appeal of your offering before you present it for sale. Although you may think that it's perfect, it doesn't mean that it will satisfy the demands of your target market. It's smart to test your concept to ensure that it is satisfactory for your customers.
To do this, select a few people who best represent your target group. Ask them to try your product or service and provide you with their honest opinions. Design a simple form to track their comments and suggestions for improvement, and make adjustments based on their feedback.
If you tailor your offerings to meet the requirements of your ideal target market, and you create and promote the right sales message to showcase the benefits of your product or service, then you can be more confident in your ability to sell successfully.
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Get more advice on money and business matters at www.financiallysmartadvice.com and www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.