Creatives who create, sell their ideas, and sell their own services – we gotta talk about ourselves. This can start with simply explaining what we do in casual conversations (if you’re a creative entrepreneur, we call it sounding self-employed, instead of unemployed). It can mean explaining what we do online, especially on more conversational platforms like blogging, posts, tweets and pics. But there’s a more specific conversation that happens when someone really gets more interested in hiring us. And this is where we can get a little anxious, uncertain, or flat out scared, about selling what we do.
Tara here today, and I want to talk about the selling conversation. This is when someone wants to sit down, face-to-face over coffee, meet over Skype, or even on the phone to talk about what they might really get from working with us. This is the conversation that gets us hired, and the conversation that gets you hired, too.
The kinds of conversations you’re having as a creative entrepreneur:
The Casual Conversation
who: friends, family, old acquaintances, new strangers
where: work & social gatherings, grocery store run-ins
what: your creative biz in a nutshell, not too formal, just a one-liner
why: they just wanna know what you’re up to
The Online Conversation
who: followers & peers, but also the friends, family & acquaintances crowd
where: your site, your blog, your favorite social media platforms
what: stuff you know as a creative, inspiration, and behind-the-scenes
why: a reason to “like” what you do, learn from you, and want more
The Selling Conversation
who: interested potential clients… who aren’t your clients yet
where: your office, favorite coffee shop, Skype, email, or phone
what: your creative expertise, who you work with, your process & what they get
why: so they know what to expect if they hire you, so they say… “yes”
What does a selling conversation sound like?
For one thing, a selling conversation is when a creative switches from their inspirational, or funny, or sparkly “like me” voice (you know the one, and it’s okay if you’re using it in those other conversations listed above) – to a more grounded “here’s what to expect” voice. This is how you’ll sell yourself without feeling salesy – without trying to prove it too hard.
At Braid, if you’re having a selling conversation with either myself or someone else on our team, we’re going to be explaining two ways that creative entrepreneurs hire us, either for a Brand & Business Vision consultation and guide, or a full Brand Platform complete with words and design. We’re going to explain that we typically work with creatives like designers, writers, makers and even other creative consultants and coaches – and helping creatives better explain and show what they do, is our specialty.
Then we’re going to show you our process. Regardless of what kind of creative you are, and what level of engagement you hire us for, that our method (our Braid Method, to be exact) is the same every time, and it’s how it’s going to feel to work with us.
Okay, that’s our super-condensed selling conversation in a nutshell. But if you were really getting the full picture, well, you’d get the full picture – with visuals, that is. We call them conversation slides. Because it’s one thing to talk about what you do, and it’s another to show it.
The Conversation Slides for selling conversations:
Say someone contacts you, who is interested in hiring or partnering with you. You can email them with details, like pricing and the nuts-and-bolts of what they get. But if you had a series of visuals that really show them what you mean – you’d attach that too, right?
So the email’s got the details, but these visuals explain what it feels like to work with you, in your own style. That could be photography, design, infographics even, and a few really well crafted copy points, and even better a few examples of real work for real clients. In a perfect world, you schedule a Skype or chat over coffee to walk this potential (and hopefully dreamy) client through the slides on a laptop or iPad.
We call these conversation slides. And they just might be the most important thing we create for our entrepreneurs.
In our Brand Platforms, we always give our creative clients a brand story and specific how-to-hire-me language, so they can feel confident in putting themselves out there. But we always turn those into conversation slides so they can show what they mean. These are usually six or seven screens, using photography or design, with maybe one or two sentences on each (soundbytes from that brand story and how-to-hire-me language), that can guide conversations with their dream customers.
An outline for your own conversation slides:
1. who you are for (your niche)
2. what you do best (your expertise)
3. what they get (your offering)
4. what to expect (your process)
With visuals, and real examples if you’ve got ‘em, and, please… in your style!
Yes, a conversation is a two-way street. No, you aren’t reading these slides like a robot. Think of them as a jumping-off point for guiding someone through your approach and process. This lets you tailor your conversation towards them, and keep the conversation as short-and-sweet (or heart-to-heart deep) as you like.
Here are some examples of slides we’ve developed for our creative entrepreneur clients lately, and how they are using them to help with all kinds of different conversations.
Crystal is just starting up her plant-based cooking company, Verdure, and she’s using her slides to help her inspire how she’s going to create her own website, how she’s going to start sharing visuals and advice through social media, and also have conversations with potential partners for events like her popular clean-eating cleanses.
Betina at This Land Yoga uses her conversation slides to not only let customers know what experiences at her studio feel like – but to get employees on board with her vision, too. So now all of her teachers know what kind of atmosphere she wants to create for students.
Dallas uses her conversation slides to connect with her allies – other coaches! – and deepen her own expertise by helping them design the work and life that will take them to the next level.
At Braid, we recently refined our own conversation slides because we’ve been so inspired by the ones we’ve created for others.
Always make it visual.
Even if you don’t have conversation slides, sometimes just pulling out a notepad and sketching what you mean and letting that person across the table see what you’re talking about – can go a long way to adding some show to your tell.
The power of “making it visual” is threefold. First, you put your style and point-of-view out there immediately, so you know you’re on the same page. Second, you feel more confident in what can sometimes feel like an intangible service, by making it concrete and visual. And last, if you can really outline your steps, you also reassure your soon-to-be customer that they’re getting something real and worthwhile, by showing that you have a process which allows you to deliver your magic every time.
So you look like an expert, you sound, ahem, “self-employed,” and you feel confident about putting yourself out there.
What would make conversations with your dream customers easier? Let us know on Facebook.