Selling ourselves

June 1, 2012

Workshop Review: Zoe Carruthers

By Mike Truppiano & Anne Hodgson

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If you’re like us, you only want to teach and just let sales and marketing take care of themselves. Hopefully, our thinking goes, we’ll just get more and better referrals and all will be well. As Zoe Caruthers reminded us in her June 2nd workshop Selling Ourselves, that’s usually wishful thinking. While we may not be able to compete with the Wall Street Institute’s marketing budget, we should allocate time every day to selling our services.

The workshop started by stressing the importance of defining what it is exactly that we’re selling. What is our brand? Do we have a specialty? Then Zoe went on to discuss pricing. How much do we actually need to earn per hour? What’s the difference between billable and unbillable hours?

In discussing marketing, Zoe made us very aware that we need to approach our target group directly using the channels they generally use to look for services to outsource. While we can use social media sites like Twitter and blogs to build our public image, we need to ask ourselves: am I communicating with my customers to sell to them, or with my colleagues for professional development? At the event many agreed that Xing is a very effective social media site which has proven useful for winning potential clients, and is therefore well worth the time you invest in it.

Zoe talked us through cold calling, including the secrets of how to get a reference from the boss’s office (call his or her PA and get her to refer you to the appropriate department). This was fascinating, but nobody in the audience had actually successfully won any new clients this way, so many of us felt that these are untested waters in our profession. What does work for most of us is being referred to HR by former students – which is then often enough the way into company contracts.

Zoe had us focus on specific target groups and thinking about developing a portfolio of offerings for them. Her example was a course for taxi drivers. Building on a clearly defined profile, she said, made it easier to market ourselves.

The workshop was well attended and received. Many participants requested more workshops of this type dedicated to helping us build a more professional career.