Having reservations when it comes to promoting yourself and speaking up when you should? Lauryn Ballesteros and Sophie Solomon have a solution to getting past your fears.
By Stephanie Burns (CEO, Chic CEO)
I love to showcase ladies who are doing amazing things and recently, I was introduced to Lauryn Ballesteros – a sales maven who has worked with Seth Godin, American Express AXP -0.49%, GE and others. She’s a self proclaimed “curious impresario” and has teamed up with Sophie Solomon to create a program that helps women sell, market and promote themselves. With a rich background like that – I was really curious to see how they help women answer some of the tough questions that seem to haunt us.
So I reached out to some of the women in our community to see what questions they had for Lauryn and Sophie about marketing themselves and here’s the wisdom they shared:
When I quote a price to potential clients, they usually try to lowball me and I give in because I want the sale. How do I stay firm with my prices?
Ohh, this is a good one. Ok, top two things to stay firm to your prices:
First one being, you have to be willing to walk away. You have to be willing to relinquish the outcome, as my friend Sophie Solomon would say.
If a client tries to lowball you, and you don’t feel good about that number, then it’s just a matter of communicating that doesn’t work for you. For a lot of people this is very scary to do. To tell someone, “No I’m not going to work for that price,” can feel really bold.
With that being said, let’s say you like the customer, but the price isn’t right. That’s great– now it’s simply a matter of figuring out what you both want and how to make it happen. Consider using this script below:
“I really like you and I think your work is outstanding. What you’re looking to do will run about $5000-7000 anywhere you go, especially if you’re looking for quality work. That being said, we can probably change your proposal around to make it so that we can work within your budget. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. ”
I have a hard time promoting myself because it feels too much like bragging. Yet, it seems as though I can’t get ahead if people don’t know what I do. How do I promote myself in a tasteful way?
Ah, the classic question of self-promotion. I actually like self-promotion in most cases and there’s a very specific reason why.
The reason that I enjoy self-promotion is because it’s deeply linked to both my purpose and vision for my life. My why, or driving motivation, around the reason for promoting myself is crystal clear. That driving force is so big, and so meaningful to me, that it supersedes any other fear that I may have about looking stupid.
Let’s pretend you’re in the movie Hotel Rwanda for example – two tribes within a city are slaughtering one another. It’s a bloodbath and you’re the only person with a car so they tell you to go get help. In that moment, you’re not wondering if people will like you or not, if they’ll judge the model of your car or the placement of your hair or if you sound dumb– none of that registers. In fact, you’re so confident that if they did condescendingly question you, you would think it to be absurd. You are saving lives– what could possibly be strange about that?
You need to discover your driving force. It may be to feel joy, it may be the promise of a brighter future and it may be an inexplicable calling. Ultimately, the feeling is different for each person but the common theme is that it’s important to you.
Many times, this links back to something really painful in your past. I’m not trying to get all woo-woo and psychological with you, but it’s true. For me, my past links to authenticity, purpose and vision.
As a kid, I was picked on alot. I talk a bit about it in my TEDx here. It took me a long time to get over how others viewed me. So when I see people being told that they can’t and shouldn’t be themselves, it strikes a chord inside me. I don’t want anyone to feel that who they are is bad, so I strive to bring authenticity and originality into all that I do as a way to set an example of what’s possible.
In the business world, it’s really common to see people work 60+ hours per week. In fact, it seems glorified. But I have a family, kids and commitments – and just can’t pull this off. I’m worried I won’t succeed unless I put in the hard work. Is there another way?
You’re smart to ask this question. There’s an inner wisdom inside of you that sees this for what it truly is and you’re brave for even mentioning it.
The real question here is, can I have what I want without working myself to death?
Yes, you can totally be successful without working 60+ hours per week. You don’t have to sacrifice your family so that you can have a job. They’re not mutually exclusive. But to do so successfully, you need to get clear on what key activities move your business forward and be firm in your commitment to focus on those actions. You also need to get clear about what you really want and that can be the hardest part.
As for what you can do: acknowledge and ignore that fear that says, “I have to work 60 hours.” Ignore that which doesn’t serve you. Follow your gut and put your attention elsewhere. Look at other people in your industry who you admire in and out of business, and learn from them. A lot of the time you already know the answer, it’s just a matter of being brave enough and confident enough to follow your gut. You don’t have to be scared… and you do know better. So just make a better decision.
What do you think the biggest misconception in business is, and how can we change that?
I think two of the biggest misconceptions are that you can’t be yourself, and that business is dreadful. It has to be hard, it has to be painful, it has to be a miserable experience.
People are looking for authenticity, they’ve been starved from it and are now seeking it out both in themselves and in others. A lot of things are changing. Five years ago I don’t know if I could get away with having a half-shaved head and be taken seriously. That’s not the case today.
Secondly, people think that business needs to be extremely hard almost all the time. NYC is notorious for this and practically boasts of the high stress environment. In fact, many gauge the success of their business by how hard it feels. The more strenuous it feels, the more perceived progress one expects. But difficulty is not a standalone metric for success. We hide behind difficulty and pain because we don’t know what else to do and are too afraid to ask. We’re all lemurs at some point running toward the edge of a cliff ready to jump because that’s what everyone else is doing. At some point, however, you realize the futility in such a path and choose to stray. That’s how you end up here.
So how can we change these misconceptions? It starts with you.
We’ve been taught as children to stand out, but what we’re actually expected to do is stand in line and hush up. That’s why standing out feels so scary. But to expect change in others requires you to first cultivate change in yourself. You can do it.
You’re about to launch a course for entrepreneurs on how to sell and market themselves – how is it different from the others?
Yep, we are and we’re super excited. S+M is a biz that teaches entrepreneurs our secrets to closing 7+ figures in sales and working with some of the top players in business like Seth Godin, American Express and others. Our approach is totally unique with giving at the heart of our philosophy (both to yourself and to others).
While most people prep exclusively for what you do once you’re in the meeting, we realize most of the work is done before. And we show you what to do. Our students absolutely loved their results– some landed new clients, others found a business partner or two and most are overall happier and more confident. We want entrepreneurs to have this so badly that we’re making it super affordable and offering a scholarship.
We are launching October 1, 2013 so if you’re interested at all in upping your game, you should check out our scholarship and sign up for updates at our site www.smlaunch.com.
Which part of Lauryn’s advice helped you the most?
About the guest blogger: Stephanie Burns is the founder and CEO of Chic CEO – a free resource for female entrepreneurs looking to start a business. You can follow her on Twitter at @StephanieABurns or Chic CEO at @ChicCEO.