Why Sales is Far More Than a “Necessary Evil” for Professional Freelancers

Sales. The very word (along with “marketing”) is enough to make the bulk of freelancers—and especially artistic “creatives”—break out in hives. “Why can’t I just create, and leave the sales to others?” Yeah, take a number.

For better or worse, the success of any creative venture depends on sales. No longer can you just be an “artist.” And according to a wonderful book I just finished, The Art of the Sale (by Philip Delves Broughton), it not only has always been that way, but the two parts—art, and the sales of that art—are inextricably intertwined.

Paying Proper Homage to Sales

Having been in sales for 15 years prior to starting my writing practice, I was smitten by the following passage. Transcending the typically dismissive comments about the sales process, it truly paid proper homage to this misunderstood art and science:

No great artist can thrive without also being a great salesperson—or at least having one on their side. Art and commerce do not sit at separate ends of the spectrum of values—one ethereal and noble, the other a necessary evil. At the heart of any rich artistic and cultural life are the people who sell art.

The book is a fascinating and colorful examination and dissection of the sales process. Yet it’s not so much a how-to manual as it is a guided tour through the compelling stories of top salespeople who employed a broad array of strategies across a delightfully diverse spectrum of professions, countries and periods of history.

Demystifying the Science of Sales

The upshot? The book demystifies the whole science of sales, and you’ll likely walk away with a newfound respect (or in my case, as an old sales guy, renewed respect) for the profession. Not to mention a host of techniques and tactics that fit your temperament (and will likely be different for each reader).

But, fear not: It’s not some “program” you have to implement. Instead, it’s things
you’ll instinctively keep in mind as you go about your business that can’t help but make you more effective.

Commercializing Your Talent

Another quote in the book addressed itself nicely to freelance folks like us. Talking about how some people sell to gain money or status, he added:

For others, selling is an act of commercializing a particular talent. A painter sells his work so he can continue to paint without going broke or hungry, so he can paint and not lead the frustrated life of a moving man, short-order cook, or accountant, his true passion relegated to evenings and weekends in the basement.

No, this doesn’t make sales any easier. But if you can stop thinking of sales as something unsavory and instead as the respectable price to pay to live as you want, that’s a really good thing.

Authored by Peter Bowerman
Veteran commercial freelancer and business coach Peter Bowerman, is the author of the award-winning Well-Fed Writer series—how-to standards on the subject of freelancing for businesses. Subscribe to his ezine and blog at www.wellfedwriter.com.