If you're a reader of this blog who is selling services, particularly consulting or other kind of contract work, then — alas — one of the objections you need to be prepared to respond to is this one: "The IRS (and state tax people) look very closely over our shoulder when we try to work with contractors. The IRS prefers that we just put people on the regular payroll, so it is easier for the tax people to be sure we've paid all the taxes and such. So, sorry, we just can't risk buying your services."
So, given that objection, how do you respond? My suggestion: read this article in the New York Times Small Business Guide section. It's by Katherine Reynolds Lewis, and it links to some other comments and related articles.
Link to the article: "Hiring contractors without getting into trouble"
The article is written to advise the businesses that may take on contractors; that tells you the concerns and hot-button issues, which you can turn around to your own situation.
One comment: I can't find the reference right now, so am relying on memory, but seems to me there was an article not long ago that the IRS was in the process of hiring 6,000 new agents, mainly to police this issue, of firms seeking to take on contract employees as the economy was so weak they couldn't risk taking on payroll employees.
The good news? That's 6,000 new jobs!Great news in the headlines!
The bad news? Let's not even think about all the contractors, consultants, free agents and free lancers who are not working because of the shadow of a potential IRS audit hanging over the process.
More bad news? Let's not think about the work and productivity that could flow if businesses didn't need to "invest" so much in fighting and avoiding audits.)
When I was starting-up on this blog, I expected the main readership would be among new business start-ups, consultants, new free-lancers, people new to selling and sales. Why? Mainly because the economy was begining to slide down, and a lot of people were going off on their own— some as involuntary entrepreneurs, others as self- reinventors in advance of getting laid off.
It hasn't been that way, so far as I can tell: most of the readership seems to be professional sales people, folks who already know their way around a sales call, and were looking for fresh ideas.
Yes, that kind of info is here, but also here are a lot of the basics of getting started in sales, or starting up a new venture, finding prospects, and making a convincing case. There are also a lot of free sales training articles drawn from books (Selling 101, How to Sell Face-to-Face Survival Guide, Sales Training Tutorials, and Sales Presentations and Demonstrations.
In any case, for the "reinventors" out there, let me recommend the article, "pulling off the ultimate career makeover" in Fortune, issue of July 4, 2011. Case studies include,
- An owner of franchises who sold them off and is setting up his own franchise operation, Yogurt Mountain. (Full disclosure: I have not, repeat not, received any free samples!)
- A sales executive formerly with the likes of Intel, Dell, and NetApp who, after being down-sized, first became a free-agent, then was hired as director of marketing of a social media operation.
- A lawyer, downsized after the media burst bubble burst in 2000, who turned around to become a contractor with the same firm. That led to a further reinvention as she set up what's best described as a legal firm of part-time lawyer contractors, many of them women juggling work and school-age kids.
- A director of strategic development and communicaitons who got cut when that company was acquired. He then did what any good consultant and strategist does, develop his "brand" after an analysis (which makes very good reading) of his passions and skills. Now he's consulting full-time.
- Another lawyer who left the practice (good for him!) to become an author of mystery novels. (First reinvention.) Then when the market for paper books started sliding, he moved into the e-book field and took on self-publishing his backlist for Kindle and the like. (Second reinvention.) By the way, as a "reformed" lawyer myself, I can't resist giving a plug to another lawyer who found "real work," hence this: his name is Paul Levine and you can read more about his mysteries at Website of Paul Levine
Fortune article: Pulling off the ultimate career makeover, by Douglas Alden Warshaw
In sales skills terminology, "prospecting" often means looking for industrial parks and the like, then doing a quick sweep in order to rapidly scan and flush out potential prospects.
In those sweeps, you speak briefly with the receptionist or secretary to make a quick determination of whether it is worth calling back to see the Decision Maker.
Just what information you are looking for at this early stage of your search for viable leads will vary with your product and the market. The checklist below is a starting point; adapt it to your own uses.
Checklist: The Kinds of Information to be Looking for When Cold Calling
Continue reading Prospecting for leads and other useful information via cold calling: essential info to be looking for
Cold calls as a sales method
Good sales can flow from cold calls. While cold-calling should NOT be your primary way of approaching new prospects, there will be times when it is appropriate as a selling tool.
For example, if you have open time between scheduled calls, consider using it to "smoke-stack" for other leads. (The term arose when sales people would drive around looking for factory smoke-stacks to guide them to industrial prospects. Now most smoke-stacking is done by scanning the list of tenants at the elevators of office towers and entrances to commercial parks.)
You may spot a possible prospect, and knock on the door in the hope
Continue reading Cold calling: when you CAN use it as a way to make the sale
Prospecting, as we use the word in sales, is looking for potential buyers. But sales prospecting is also about screening out those who will not likely be viable prospects, at least not this time 'round.
Keep in mind those prospectors out west in the Great Gold Rush of '49. They spent months and years
Continue reading Sales prospecting by phone: when and how to back off if you find this prospect is not viable
Situation: you're making a call on a prospect, and you initially think you are making your sales call to the right person at the right level, but then you get the sense you have come in at too low a level (of budget or authority).
Indicators: Suppose you make your presentation and feel interest on the supposed decision maker’s
Continue reading Finding prospects: if you find you need to raise your level of contact within the prospect organization
Indicators: It seems that as soon as you demolish one sales objection the prospect raises another, and then another.
What this indicates: A string of relatively insignificant objections, thrown out one after the other,
Continue reading Sales objections: How to handle it if you hear an endless string of sales objections.
Finding sales prospects, first basic rule: You can make a sale only if you deal with the person who can say Yes to what you offer.
That’s obvious enough, especially if you’re selling to individuals.
But it’s more difficult if you’re selling to organizations. The selling skills you use in finding prospects within organizations in both the public and private sectors is more complicated, as
Continue reading Finding sales prospects: three basic rules for locating the decision maker who can in fact say yes to what you offer
Just what IS a buying signal?
A buying signal is some kind of often subtle signal that the mood has shifted and the other person is now ready to agree . . . or at least to be open to what you propose.
In other words, a "buying signal" may signal readiness to . . .
Continue reading Buying signals