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Freelancing and consulting: Maybe you don’t hate selling as much as you think you do

When I was a kid, comic books and children’s magazines had ads in the back that sold children on winning a shiny red bike by selling greeting cards door to door. I never actually did it, but I believed I should. I couldn’t bring myself even to sign up so I felt like a sales failure simply for my inaction.

In my early twenties I sold Avon door to door. The products were satisfactory, but I did not enjoy knocking on doors and seeing who would answer. Sales were tepid and I soon quit.

Over the years people have presented multilevel marketing schemes to me and I’ve always turned them down.

There are two reasons I can’t do these types of selling. The first is that I don’t much care about the products. I don’t hate greeting cards or fragrances I have never actually smelled, but I also don’t care about them enough to get off the couch and go sell.

The second reason is that I don’t like to approach strangers at random. The mere fact that they reside a few blocks away from me does not overcome my dread.

On the other hand, I feel totally different about phoning prospects for my freelance and consulting services.

First, my product is me and I believe in me. All my work may not be perfect, but I improve my chances of excellence by targeting my field of expertise. Furthermore, if a project is not going well, I keep working at it until it’s right. Sometimes that results in an inadequate hourly rate, but I’m OK with that.

Second, I limit my prospecting to appropriate names. While I may not personally know everyone I phone or email, I know their company and job title. It’s not at all like contacting random strangers because I have reason to believe they may benefit from my services.

Since I enjoy phoning and applying for work, I have thought of landing assignments and then hiring others to assist me with the work. I have never followed through on the idea because it would take considerable effort for me to verify and edit copy to the point I would be comfortable presenting it as my own.

Yes, it may be more ethical to inform the client that I have had assistance, but if I review it sufficiently to feel comfortable with the copy, in my mind this mitigates any ethical considerations. Anyway, this process does not appeal to me.

Selling my own services is a whole different ballgame from independently selling someone else’s products and services. Rejection is a non-issue. Not everyone says “yes,” but no one says, “Hell no!”

Originally posted 10-14-14

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