Story Selling

We all have the ability to sell. Just think back to when you were a kid. You learned how to sell parents, teachers and other kids to get what you wanted. So what happened? To begin with, many creative people prefer to keep to themselves. This is exactly the opposite of the way things are sold these days. It is about whom you know and who knows you. The more people you know the fewer cold calls you have to make. The fewer cold calles you have to make, the easier it is to sell. What if all you had to do was call up an acquaintance and say, ‘How are you? Me? Oh, you know, I’m doing my art and loving it. Hey, you can see my latest creations on my website’. That is it. It is not sleazy. It is not pushy. It is not ugly. It is about meeting people, forming a relationship, and staying connected. No problem, you can do that. Still, for many of us it just does not seem natural.

‘I mean, I want to all this trouble to create the damn thing and now I have to sell it? That is just not right.’  Right or wrong, it is a fact of life as a creative person. Maybe all you have to do is sell your agent on the idea and let her do the rest. Then there is one less important sales job you have to make, isn’t there? Creative people have to sell to survive. Period. End of discussion. Still, it comes as a shock to some people when I tell them they must learn how to sell heir creations (as well as ideas and insights). It is not beneath you, it is not as disgusting as it sounds, and if you use your creativity, it can be an art. When it is done well, selling is an art. The alternative to learning how to sell is even more disgusting in my opinion, having no work and being forced into obscurity. Now, that is frightening.

I’ll agree that selling is no usually a strong suit for a lot of creative people, but it can be. Note, there are no ‘born’ salesmen. It is not a learned skill and a mindset. I am not saying it is easy, because it is not. But it is doable. Did I mention the alternative.? So you are ready to learn the secrets to selling? Here’s is one thing that will improve your attitude toward sales. Think of selling as storytelling. Instead of trying to find ways to shove something down someone’s throat, think of it as inspiring people. Engaging people. Thrill people. Co create with people. Who can resist a story in which they can be heroes solving great challenges? And it does not feel as buying and selling anymore.

Make sure you are telling your stories to the right people. When you find the right fit, it means you have found someone who truly needs what you have to offer, appreciates what you do, and gives you the freedom to create great art. There are two schools of thought. Pick the easiest people to pursue first, and build confidence and momentum before going to the ‘big boys and girls’. The other approach is to aim high. If with one selling story you could hit the mother lode, why not try? If worst comes to worst you can regroup and go back to the little fish. Another secret to story telling is to do something so fantastic and original that they come to you, and all you have to do is decide whether you want to work with them and how much you are going to make them pay. But until that happens, try finding something that you are proud of and passionate about, and selling will become something you can learn to live with (and maybe even love?).

Finally, shut up and listen to your customers, colleagues, agent, reps, retailers, and anyone else who has ideas about what you could do better to sell your stuff. Most creative people love to talk, but we should also learn to listen to feedback from those with another perspective. It is a survival thing. Remember, timid salespeople have skinny kids. Don’t be afraid, go for it! Sell what you are passionate and enthusiastic about. Look at what you are working on. Is it possible you are having a hard time selling it simply because it is not your best work, or what you really want to be working on?