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Cultivating Confidence in Your Selling Conversations | Braid Creative

Confidence selling

When you share your brand in all your “brand places,” what you’re really doing is informing and inspiring the people who are attracted to your style and what you sell. A brand is a blend of your style and content—so it’s also letting the people who aren’t exactly clicking with your vibe decide for themselves, “thanks but no thanks, this isn’t really a fit for me.” Tara here, and yep, like Kathleen shared yesterday, even if you have blue hair people will still want to hire you.

That’s what a brand does, it speaks for you even when you’re not there. But how are you speaking for yourself when you are there, face-to-face with a person interested in hiring you?

How do you turn a fan who is inspired by you into a paying client who trusts you and feels really good about hiring you? The answer is you don’t “turn” them. They have to make the decision for themselves. And that’s honestly a relief for most creative entrepreneurs. Because we kinda hate feeling like we have to persuade people.

Many of us cringe at the idea of “selling” ourselves. When we feel like we have to sell ourselves we either can go really over-the-top, trying to be sparkly, or sophisticated, or seem like we have “all the answers!”

Or, we can find ourselves flustered, apologizing (even if it’s just on the inside) for our pricing or for the services we can’t provide. We try to overcompensate with “all the things” we can do for someone instead of focusing on the offering we’re best at. Then if we do get a new paying client out of the conversation (yay!), we may wake up in the night regretting the services we promised, the price we quoted, the concessions we made just for the sake of closing the deal.

So what are our secrets to cultivating confidence in our selling conversations?

Confidence selling what you do

Stop trying to inspire people in your selling conversations. This isn’t the time to fall all over a potential client with “I can do anything! Oh, you’re going to love this!” It’s also not the time to start solving their problem right then and there, or giving advice like you might in a blog post or the content you share online, or if they were your client. They haven’t hired you yet!

Instead, simply explain what they get and what they can expect along the way. If your brand messages have done their job positioning what you do—and the kind of people you do it for—in your style and voice, then they’re already feeling like they might be a fit for you. If you feel like your website or brand platform isn’t quite as put together as you’d like it to be, then this is your opportunity to explain your offering. Your selling conversations will never be perfect, but they can be more confident. Here’s what we want you to start practicing:

Do it face-to-face. Even if your sales or services page is perfectly written and clear as day on your site, oozing with your voice and style – it’s different when it’s “hire me” time. When you have an inquiry, yeah, you can explain a lot in an email response – but what you’re aiming to get is an in-person or video meeting to close the deal.

Use real examples. The most powerful thing you can do is walk a potential client through a past project or working-together-scenario (even if it’s not exactly the same as theirs) because it shows them how you work and what your offering includes. This makes it visual and makes it real in their minds more than anything you can share in> a list of bullet points.

Let them voice their hesitations and decide if you’re a fit for them. Let them bring up any concerns or questions at the end. If they’re not bringing up anything at all, ask them “is there anything that’s giving you pause?” You want them to feel comfortable sharing those concerns in person, instead of everyone being so concerned about being nice and keeping any hesitations to themselves. That’s when you never hear back from them and don’t know why.

What if they’re not a fit for you? In the case where you don’t feel like a potential client is a fit for you, try to let them know earlier than later in the conversation. This is the only time I do give out a little advice, almost like a consolation for not being able to help them as a client (because they might refer me to someone who is!). Keep a few names in your back pocket of other people who might be able to help them instead. Saying “no” to a potential client takes even more practice than getting them to say “yes.” But all of it takes practice, practice, practice.

Practice actually lets you be more “real” each time, instead of feeling like a fake.
What’s my favorite part of feeling confident explaining how people can hire me? I know what I offer like the back of my hand because it’s how I actually work with my clients every single time. So I can break my rules if I need to. But even more than that, I can really be myself. I don’t have to put on an act or pretend I’m a different kind of professional or expert than I really am. I can be a “real” person – and get paid for what I do best.

Want more? Kathleen and I hosted a webinar all about selling conversations. She talked about how you can attract your dream clients (and repel the not-so-dreamy ones) with your brand. I got even more specific about how you can get more confident (and more clients) out of your selling conversations. (I even shared how we do it behind-the-scenes at Braid!) Watch the replay here!

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Know Your Dream Client & Becoming a Better Creative Expert

Know Your Dream Client

It feels good to get paid. But it feels great to knock the socks off a client – to make them cheer, or cry, or simply smile with this complete satisfaction and confidence in what you created for them.

What doesn’t feel great is if you just hit a wall at every step, you feel like expectations are completely off-base from each other, and in the end, even if they’re happy, you’re just happy to be done.

You want to like your job. And when you work for yourself, there comes a point where you have, in fact, created a job of your own making. You’ve settled down into your routines, settled into the flow of busy times and not-so-busy times, and you aren’t as freaked that you’ll never get another client again (but sure are grateful when you do!)

You want to like your clients. But here’s the thing – liking your clients isn’t about them being better clients, it’s about you being a better creative expert. (click to tweet)

How to be a creative expert

How can you share your offering as a creative expert... if you don’t know yourself?
Before you start listing off all the kind of clients you don’t want – or even dreaming about the ones you do – start with you. What is the work you want to be doing? What are you best at? What is your style and voice? Because the real shift happens from being a “creative-for-hire” to a “creative-with-a-clear-purpose” when you are able to infuse your work, your actions, your content, and your offerings with what you’re best at + what you know about your dream client: their pains, their wants, their personality, their dreams.

How can share your offering to your dream client... if you don’t know them?
Okay, so now imagine your dream client. They may be someone you’ve worked with in the past – or just the kind of person (or project!) you’d like work with in the future. How real can you make them? The more specific you can get, the more you can narrow in on your “people!”, the more “psychic” you’ll feel when you’re creating just for them – and the more enthusiastic approval you’ll get along the way.

When your work exceeds your client’s wildest expectations, it makes you feel like a true creative expert. (click to tweet)

This is a fill-in-the-blank exercise we created for designers, but really, it works for almost anyone working for themselves. Give it a skim before you give it a try. If you feel yourself nodding along, or even shouting a few “yes’s!” as you go, then this script is just for you:

My ideal client is most likely a ___ [ job / profession / business ]______.
They’re about ___ [ age ] ____ old, and are ______ [ personality trait ] _____.
They can also be very _____ [ personality trait ] & [ personality trait ] ________.
They’re stressed about ___________ [ worry / roadblock ] __________.
Let’s call them ____ [ name! maybe a movie character or someone you know ] ___.
They value ___________ [ resource / trait / or skill of yours ] ______________.
But they really love ___________ [ a deeper awesomeness of yours ] _______.
So they trust others who _____ [ do this / are like this ] _____________.
When we work together, they’re happily surprised that I ___ [ did this / helped with this! ] ___.
And together we __________ [ created / built this ] ____________________.
I love that this project added _______ [ kind of style / content ] ____ to my portfolio.
I want more work like ____ [ project type, project type ] ____ for clients like these!

A Little Extra Credit: Imagine you overheard the dream client you “made real” above chatting about you in a coffee shop. You are totally going to eavesdrop on their conversation. Write down two things you would HATE to hear them say – your worst fear. Then write down two things you would LOVE to hear them say – like it makes you blush! Or makes you do a little happy dance by yourself over in your hiding spot, you creeper, you. Then ask yourself: Are the fears as really as bad, or even as “real” as you think? Don’t you think the “loves” are things your friends, clients and peers might be saying about you anyway!? Just some extra food for thought and a little dash of confidence to start doing after your dream clients.

Do you find dream client exercises like this helpful? Then stop what you’re doing and pop on over here because you need to sign up for our Braid Method Branding ECourse! Here we’re narrowing in even more on your dream clients, but even more powerfully, we help you narrow in on articulating what you want – and what you do, so other people know it (and buy it!) too.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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12-Aug-2015
Make Work You Love to Attract Dream Clients | Braid Creative

Make Work You Love

Today’s post comes from our Branding for Designers email series. Almost everyone on the Braid team started out as a graphic designer so we have a special place in our hearts for you all. We know your struggles first hand and wanted to create a series just for you. Oh, and if you’d like to get a free eBook on how to brand yourself as a creative expert sign up here. Now on to the post!

If you’ve done exercises from our Braid Ebook for Designers or from our Braid Method Branding ECourse, you know we like to help you shape and share your words. But what about creating and showing your work?

Creative entrepreneurs can show their work in lots of way. Think about the places where you are sharing: your website, portfolio, and case studies, perhaps. Then think about your creative work out there simply speaking for itself – as your clients share with friends and peers, and people experience your work firsthand out “in the world.”

That’s a lot of eyeballs on what you’ve created. And that’s great! But if you were to go to those places and look at your own work with fresh eyeballs, would you see the kind of work you want to do more of? Or would you only see the kinds of projects you never want to do again? You might not feel this black-and-white about it. Typically there are a few projects in there you love, but chances are there might be quite a few more that feel like the “old” you – and you’re ready for some “new.”

Ever heard the expression “like attracts like?” If you want to change the kind of work you’re hired to create, then you’ve gotta start creating and showing the kind of work you want to be making! (click to tweet)

Make work that attracts clients

So let’s say you don’t want to do wedding invitations anymore, you want to do branding for other event planners and wedding professionals. That’s not a huge leap. In fact, it feels pretty logical. But it can feel like a huge hurdle if no one is hiring you for brand design – only invitations.

Or let’s say you’re a web designer. Your bread and butter has been doing small sites for small businesses, but most of them are kind of bland – usually small tech companies. These businesses aren’t inherently bland, but you’ve realized whenever you create sites for makers with a more artisanal style – a baker, a herbalist, a woodworker – that you absolutely love your designs. But how can you get more of that when 75% of the work on your site or in your portfolio is techy-looking sites?

The creative projects you show others, speak volumes about what kind of work your clients can expect from you. And if you keep sharing the stuff you think will get you hired, but doesn’t exactly float your own creative boat, you could be setting yourself up to create a boring, unfulfilling day job of your own making. Except now you have no one to blame but the boss – and that’s you. (click to tweet)

Before you get all blamey, remember – having any creative business that pays your bills is a great problem to have. It actually gives you the confidence (and cash) to keep going and keep creating. The bad part is it doesn’t give you the time – the time to work on some side projects that could start to round out your portfolio and work with the kind of projects you love.

Make work that you want to do

But that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to carve out some time (and usually that’s just some mental headspace and some self-set deadlines and goals) to either create this kind of work for free, for a friend, or for someone who’s paying if they’re exactly the kind of client you want more of.

Get more of that event planning branding on your site, get more of that handmade indie maker sites in your portfolio. Aim for a 50% mix of what has been getting you hired and what you want to start getting hired for by the end of the year. Then aim for showing 80% (if not 100%) of only work you love by the end of two years. Time flies when you’re doing work you love!

Does this post ring true to you? If you’re having trouble making that shift from the type of work you’re currently doing to that oh-so-dreamy work you want to be doing, scoot on over to our Braid Method Branding ECourse. In it, you’ll find exercises that will help you narrow your offerings and adjust your brand messaging so that you can begin to take on the dreamy work that will continue to attract more of the work you love.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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Braid Creative & Consulting is branding and visioning for creative entrepreneurs and purposeful businesses. The Braid Blog is where we share weekly insights and resources for getting clear about your vision and voice, sharing content that attracts your dream client, and creating the brand positioning you want to be known for.

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