The Complete Guide to Finding Clients for the Non-Salesy Small Business Person

The Complete Guide to Finding Clients for the Non-Salesy Small Business Person

For some people selling a product or service is an innate ability. These are the kids who hustled for an extra pack of gummy bears on the elementary school playground. Now, as adults, they could sell wood to a forest, a cape to Superman or hay to a farmer.

In stark contrast are, well, most small business people, many of whom love their products but hate selling. After all, just because a software developer has a great app to sell and believes passionately in her mission, doesn’t mean she’ll enjoy the process of networking, cold calling, and beating down customer doors. In fact, she probably would prefer being left to her own devices to work on new apps.

But of course, without big budgets for hiring, small business people often have to be their own best advocates. So, how can the reluctant salesperson/business owner promote their products or services without letting the sales process overwhelm them? Here are our top 5 tips.

1. Know What You Do and Why It Matters

Fortunately, one of the best techniques for getting better at selling is something any passionate business owner should have fun doing: Sitting down and really thinking out why you launched the business you did, what makes your product so much better than your competitors’, and how what you do is poised to make a real impact. Once you know this, your sales pitches will feel a lot more like sharing your enthusiasm for a passion project rather than an attempt to get complete strangers to part with their money. This will help you develop an authentic and impactful elevator pitch while also diffusing any objections that arise along the way with meaningful counterarguments. This will only get better as your business has more success, as you’ll have a whole arsenal of customer experiences to draw from as you demonstrate how you’ve overcome similar concerns and objections in the past.

In this way, the sales process can be reframed as an opportunity to give potential customers deep insights into just who are, what you do, and how you operate.

2. Join Networking Groups

While networking in more casual social or entrepreneurial groups can be fun, it’s often difficult for the reluctant salesperson to pivot from “How about this weather?” to, “Here’s a product you should buy.”

One way to overcome this problem is to embrace that more casual conversation while still really listening for an in as the potential customer opens up about the issues they’re facing. But for the networking averse, taking the somewhat counterintuitive step of joining a networking group can actually be a less stressful way to go, while still promoting personal growth. Why? Because at networking groups like BNI, everyone is there for the express purpose of developing relationships and selling. Making that leap from casual conversation to a sales pitch is fully accepted and encouraged, and providing referrals is built into the organization’s formal structure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are plenty of ways to network without feeling like you’re doing so. Volunteering your services to a cause you believe in can be a great way to demonstrate what you can do for a wide web of fellow volunteers and community members, who will be likely to use or refer to you in the future. No sales pitches needed!

3. Make Good Use of Social Media

You’ve heard it a thousand times: As a business person, you’ve got to be on social media. That’s good news for those who would rather sell from behind a screen than in person. But selling on social media isn’t the same thing as making online cold calls; in fact, it’s closer to that networking at a party situation we discussed above. In order to be successful at social media, it’s best to concentrate on creating or contributing to a community and establishing yourself as an expert resource. Write and promote helpful blog articles rather than your own products. Listen to conversations and add your own wisdom into the mix. Repost content you find compelling. Just being out there, providing helpful and compelling content will keep you in the sight of your customers without invading their space, making them much more likely to come to you when they’re ready.

4. Qualify Leads

Okay, so you’ve made that initial connection. You have people calling and emailing. How do you close the deal? For the non-salesy person, this can be the most difficult part of the process, which is why it makes so much sense to think out your standard operating procedure ahead of time. In fact, making a checklist of questions to ask clients before committing to any kind of project will both save you time and help you sort the clients you want from the ones you don’t. What’s more, most clients will be impressed by your professionalism and clear breadth of experience in your field so far. Upfront communication helps clients know what they previously didn’t, greatly reduces the amount of follow-up needed and, in many cases, seals the deal.

5. Be Attentive to the Customers You Already Have

It’s one of the golden rules of sales: The easiest client to get is the one you already have. Treat your clients well while you work with them, and they’re highly likely to repeat their business and refer you to their contacts. And if you haven’t talked to an old client in a while, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop an email to check in, whether that means asking about their kids or following up on how that former tool you built for them is working out. The more they feel cared for, the more likely they are to return.


While selling is a natural trait to some, it’s also a skill that, with a little work, the rest of us can learn. Take the time to experiment with a variety of approaches that work for you, and your business will thrive…without the use of cold calls.

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