“But I’m worried about having to sell myself”

This is something I hear a lot from HR professionals I talk to about self-employment. Generating clients is the aspect of running their own business that they are most worried about, and they have visions of having to be all salesy and are feeling extremely uncomfortable about the prospect. Sound familiar?!

HR professionals are generally not natural sales people at all. We operate in an internal-facing business function, and unless we’ve done a sales-related job before moving into HR (for me it was cold-calling for a double-glazing company!), we probably have absolutely no experience of it.

But there’s really good news. If you’re thinking about self-employment in HR for small businesses, your prospective clients are generally very unlikely to respond well to being ‘sold to’.

Add to that a consideration of the service they’d be buying from you – some things people will buy based on who has ‘sold’ to them most effectively. Others they won’t. A small business owner might make a decision about a paper supplier based on effectively being ‘sold to’ and perhaps price haggling, for example.

But choosing an HR consultant is an entirely different prospect. That’s a more personal decision, and a business owner will make that choice based on factors that either can’t be communicated through a sales-y approach, or are directly contrary to a sales-y approach. They’ll look for someone they feel comfortable with, someone they trust, someone they feel confident in, someone who understands their issues and concerns, someone who has an approach to HR and to business that they feel happy with, and someone who is a good ‘fit’ for their business. A salesy approach is not going to be your best strategy to communicate those things at all.

A better approach when it comes to having those conversations and in fact in any marketing activity you do, is to learn how to talk about what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for. Identify what factors your ideal client will take into account when deciding who to work with (and, crucially, factors your ideal referrer will look for in order to be comfortable recommending you), and show those when you’re having those conversations.

A ‘show not tell’ approach works really well. If a client will want an HR professional with certain attributes, you can demonstrate those in conversations and in marketing activities.

If you’re considering self-employment and would like to benefit from in-depth training on understanding all the factors that go into a small business owner choosing an HR consultant, how to have these conversations without being salesy, and how to develop that into a marketing strategy, do get in touch to find out more about working with us.