How to Make Sales Fun and Easy with Sarah Mae Dickinson


How to create a sales plan that reflects you and your business? How to be a good salesperson without losing your mind? These are questions I asked Sarah Mae Dickinson who is a Sales Coach that offers one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurs and freelancers that are looking to bring REAL sales skills into their business.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How to make sales fun and easy.
  • The best way to plan your sales.
  • How to help your business with yearly revisions.
  • Why your business should reflect your lifestyle.

About Sarah Mae Dickinson:

Sarah Mae Dickinson is a Sales Coach that offers one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurs and freelancers that are looking to bring REAL sales skills into their business. She spent 15 years in the field prior to opening SMD Coaching and help clients with the sales exercises, examples and practices that can help anyone bring successful sales to their business. Sarah's goal is to simply sales so ANYONE can do it!

Connect with Sarah Mae:



TP: Hello, today we are speaking about sales and my guest today is Sarah Mae Dickinson. Welcome, Sarah, to our podcast. 

SD: Hi, Tuuli. Thank you for having me.

TP: It's so nice to speak about sales. And actually, this is a one of the most important thing for women entrepreneurs, can you please share how you started? And why on earth have you chosen sales?

SD: Sometimes I tell people, it was chosen for me. So I grew up with two parents that were in sales. My mother was a realtor, and my father sold insurance and cars. So I never really experienced I guess a regular nine to five kind of thing from my birth on. So I kind of was just always around it, it was a natural thing for me. So when I started in my career, previous to even having a real job. When I was in college, I started in tele-fundraising, and was basically one of the students at the University, where I called alumni and convinced them to give money over the phone to academics. So before even starting in the field of sales, I had five years of telephone raising under my belt. So it became kind of a natural transition for me to go that direction was chosen ahead of time.

TP: Oh, so you are a natural born salesperson.

SD: I don't know about that. But I definitely have just been around long enough and had enough practice. But it became kind of easy, because after school, I got a job in sales, I graduated college in 2010. And it wasn't a great time to necessarily find a job. So because of my background, I went into sales because it was just the easiest thing I could find. And I worked for a company selling commercial furniture for about six years in the United States. And then I worked for a company that did door to door work. And really, I was trying to find a place that I can move up in the world, I would have a chance for advancement. But in 2017, my husband got the chance to go remote for his job. And we were living in a very expensive city in the US. We were living in Philadelphia, and we decided to move back where he's from in Alabama in the American South. So we moved down here. And I thought, “Oh gosh, what am I going to do next?”. I don't even know what this means. And I got on a website called Upwork. And I was doing some freelance sales work for people just kind of doing some stuff here and there. And I saw a post asking about someone helping them with sales doing a sales coaching job. And I turned to my husband and I said, “You know, I just I don't even know what that means. Don't people already know, all the weird stuff that I've learned?” And he was like, “What? No, nobody learns that kind of stuff”. So I thought well, okay. So I took out a few clients for basically zero dollars, because I had no idea what I was doing. But I always really loved teaching. So I kind of got into the, to the hang of it really quickly. And now three years later, it's my full time job. So I teach people kind of all the fun, weird little basic stuff that can really change your mind about sales and make it seem easy to you just because you've never been taught it before. And knowing those basic pieces can kind of put the puzzle together and allow you to form that part of your business.

TP: I love two words that you mentioned, fun and easy.

SD: That's how I like to teach people about sales. It doesn't have to be terrible. Sales is not magic. It's just that you don't know how you're doing it yet. So we're going to teach you the basic stuff and then you can actually find joy in that part of your business.

TP: Yeah, it's really weird. I know for myself, that when I started my business, oh my god, it's more than 20 years ago, I hated selling myself, I did whatever I had to do just to avoid that, because it was so awful.

SD: And that's what most people do, you know? The hardest part of it right? Like, we know, particularly when you run your own business, you know your product, you know what you're doing, you know that you can help people. But there's, for some strange reason, and I, I blame all of our thoughts on like, the used car salesman, right? Like, there's some strange reason that we all feel like slave sales has to be like sleazy, or gross or like slimy. And it doesn't have to be, it can really just be about you confidently, knowing how great your product is, and being able to help people with whatever problem that they have. And showing them that.

TP: Hmm, when we now started to speak about sales, how can you set the goals? 

SD: How does it work?

TP: How do sales work? Setting goals, and doing all those maths related to that.

SD: Oh, sorry, it got cut out for a second, I was like, “Oh, gosh”. Um, so that's really, really important. So most commonly, one of the things that I see from any entrepreneur is that you ask them, and this is a great time of year to be doing this, because currently, we're going to, you know, currently, we're recording in October. So I'm hoping that you're thinking about, you know, the New Year, if this goes out in the beginning of 2021, I need you to be thinking about how much money you actually want to make this year. And it's strange. And I pause there when I say that, because no one seems to actually start by thinking about how much money they want to actually make throughout the year. So if you start at that number, and work your way backwards, you can do the math, to figure out two things, how much you need to be charging per hour, or what your average product needs to cost. And I use this term a lot, I feel like a lot of people price themselves out of a good life, they start at the wrong end of that equation. They say randomly, well, I'm gonna charge $50 an hour, or my bracelets are gonna be five bucks a pop, and they don't do the math on what that actually means. On the other end of the whole thing, they finish out their first year in business, and they've only made $30,000. And they don't know why. It's because we're not charging the right numbers in the beginning. So my, my suggestion when it comes to the sales goals, is start with how much money you actually want to make, and work your way backwards.

TP: Hmm. So that at least you know, what is the end result?

SD: Correct. And you know how to get there, right? Like, even if, let's say you want to make 100,000, because that's obviously the common, you know, word , number that I hear, if you want to make 100,000, that's going to equate to you needing to charge about $100-225 an hour. That being said, that way, you know, you know, week in and week out, if you have a bad week, and you don't have as many billable hours, use at least know how to make up for it, then you can say to yourself, "Well, I only got 10 billable hours in this week, and I need to get about 20". So then you can say "Okay, I just need to find a way to pick up 10 more billable hours this month. And I'll still be on my target". If you don't start with what that beginning number is though, you're never really going to know if you're on target or not for your sales goals, because you don't even know where you're trying to get to.

TP: So basically what people tend to do that they check, the prices of the neighbours and from the internet and go with that minus 10% to get more clients. So basically, this is not the way used such as to go.

SD: You can go that way, but you're never you're always going to get to the end of the year, and wonder why you're not making the money that you want to.

TP: That's true. So if the women who have just started that business, what are those essential steps for them, so that they could sell their products or services?

If you do not know who your target audience is, nothing else matters, your marketing isn't going to matter, your sales aren't going to make sense, nothing is going to work out for you. - Sarah Mae Dickinson, Podcast Step Up & Thrive

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SD: So I always start with a couple things. Number one, if you've just started your business, the first thing that I have every single human I come into contact with do is write their elevator pitch. And that's for a couple of reasons. When you are writing your elevator pitch, basically it's just a three sentence ditty on who you are, what you sell, what your differentiating factor is, and how you know, the education or the experience, you have to back all this up, right. And the reason I have you do that is because two things commonly emerge in that arena. Number one, your differentiating factor is what sets you apart from other companies or other products. So if we go through that exercise, we're going to understand what makes you different, what makes you unique, and that selling proposition that goes along with that. And number two, the other thing that we discover during the elevator pitch exercise, is figuring out who are your target audiences. If you do not know who your target audience is, nothing else matters, your marketing isn't going to matter, your sales aren't going to make sense, nothing's going to work out for you. So if you've just started, the first things that you want to figure out, are what makes you or your products different, so you know how to sell them, and then who you're selling them, to what gender, what age, where do they live? What kind of stuff do they like to do? You need to know all of that stuff, so that you can actually represent to the right people, why they should be buying your product.

TP: Yeah, this is a good thing to start from.

SD: And they're basics, but they're wildly important. And I also suggest to even if you think, you know, and I'm sure you know this very well to like, even if you think that like, oh, I've done that before, whatever I've been in business for insert number here three, ten years, you should always at the beginning of the year, be going back to what is my elevator pitch? What makes me different? And who is my target demographic, because those things can change and commonly do change year in and year out or because of the products that you have, or COVID stand that you know, like, you think about like COVID is a great example, right? Because like what think about like the Lysol company, the lifestyle company and cleaning products in general, their differentiating factor is now something completely different than what it was a year ago. And if you're not examining those things regularly, you're not going to know how to set yourself apart time and time again.

TP: So please remember your elevator pitch every year.

SD: Yes. Yes. regroup, check it out. Make sure it all makes sense. All that stuff.

TP: And I heard great news, that you are pregnant. My congratulation.

SD: Thank you! I am apparently at this recording five and a half months pregnant. So we are we're getting close.

TP: We're getting close. And this episode is coming up before your important date.

SD: Will I be pregnant when this episode comes out?

TP: Yes. But now, you are also in a totally different situation. How can you systemize your sales so that it would be easier for you, so it would take less time? And actually, how can we copy your ideas and activities.

SD: So it's been a really good and big learning curve for me. I am very much a person that is like full steam ahead and just rolling along. And you know, a great example of that is my first trimester, I was just on the couch, could not move, I was so sick. And I'm like, ”Oh, this child is going to teach me how to slow down I guess". So that's good to know. Because I am five and a half months pregnant, I am in total zone now on two areas, mainly, number one, what my product portfolio needs to look like post baby, you know, just in those first three or four months alone, those first, you know, months after she's here, I don't know what those are gonna look like. So I have to be in a position where my products can exist semi without me in them. Like, I have some more systemization behind the technology that I'm using to interact with my clients. I have more systemization behind. How am signing people up? Do I have a really good marketing funnel that's pulling people in? I'm reexamining that. Do I have, you know, a really good process once they come into my marketing funnel to bring them through the lead funnel so that they can become a client of mine? That kind of thing, and then once they're with me, how can I interact with them in a way that makes it easy for everyone involved? Right, like for example, previously, I'd only been doing one on one coaching and I really realised that that just might not be a possibility anymore. So I'm switching a lot of my product portfolio over to a platform that allows me to send video messages to people, and then send video messages back whenever they have an opportunity. So there's an example of I was one on one, I had to set a physical time aside, I don't know if that's going to exist anymore, so I've had to change that product. And then the other place, I'm really changing my business is in the planning side of all the stuff that is really tough on all of us. That is the social media, the email, the video component, all of my copy, and my marketing and all of that stuff. I am working to plan that out as far in advance as possible, both via topic, and with actually making sure I have photos and copy to go along with it, so that I can be about three months ahead at all times. So the two areas I'm making sure are my product portfolio, does it match where I'll be at post baby? And I guess for those of you that do already have babies, does your product portfolio match your lifestyle? Or is it getting in the way? And then how do I get my marketing side planned out in a way that I don't feel like it's a train coming down the tracks towards me, that I am prepared in advance. So regardless of what happens, I'm ready for it. 

TP: These are really good tips for everybody. So that your business should basically reflect your lifestyle and your family life. Not opposite.

SD: And I think, you know, tell me, I'm sure that you experienced this in the beginning too. But, you know, my first couple years in business, I just didn't even know what was happening. I was just doing whatever people needed, my products were all over the place, my pricing was all over the place. And you know, now that I'm coming to the point where I no longer can even control my schedule, because there's a small human that will be controlling it for me, I realised that I, I don't have the opportunity anymore to allow the product to rule my life, I have to force it into something that makes sense for my family and makes sense for my lifestyle. And I think, you know, the talking about the happiness side of everything. I think when those two things don't match up is commonly when we're unhappy in our profession or unhappy in our, in our business, even as entrepreneurs, I think it's commonly because that's what's happening. The lifestyle that we've created from our product portfolio, and the way that we sell isn't matching what we want actually out of our life.

TP: We are overwhelmed and panicking. 

SD: And yes, "I don't know where that's coming from", all of that kind of stuff.

TP: Yeah. So who is controlling? What?

SD: Yeah, don't let your products control you. Like, we commonly forget as entrepreneurs that we get to set everything up. Like I always hear entrepreneurs saying, "Oh, my schedule is out of control", or, "Oh, I can't do this", or "Oh, I can't do that". Well, fun fact, like you run your business. It doesn't run you so you actually get to create your schedule yourself. And let yourself do that. Allow yourself to be happy in the business that you wrap.

TP: And if I start thinking not exactly back to 20 years, so, then I had a little bit different business, but my coaching started more than five years ago. And my services, my products, I have changed all of them. Some of my services... I don't have any more all of them, because I looked at "Okay, this is too much. I cannot keep up with those". So I have remodelled and redesigned and changed everything and yeah, the happiness. For me, it's so so important that and even beginning... it was about joy and fun and easiness. This is also so so, so important for me. 

And now it's time for our quick tip section, something that we do regularly on our podcast. So my question is, what is your biggest revelation about sales? What have you understood to now as you have worked for many, many days, what are those things that "Oh, yes, that's why!"

SD: I could have known that at 22, my Lord! Um, the things I could have done. I think for me, you know, I was really tough on myself in my 20s I was very emotional when it came to sales, and really assumed that, you know, I work for some some pretty tough firms and really assume that like, when I didn't make my sales numbers, it was because I was like, bad at sales. And I think the biggest thing I've learned in the last 15 years is that, you know, by tracking what I do, how many clients I interact with how many consults I have, you know, how many consults lead to them as a client, and looking at it from a numbers perspective, it has taken the pressure off of me in the sense that I'm bad at it. And it's been more about "Oh, it's not that I'm bad at sales, it's just this one little part of my process needs improved, let me just figure that part out". And the whole thing can be improved. So for me, it was really just taking out the pressure of only looking at it from a big picture, and kind of delving more into the statistical side of sales and seeing that, it's not that you're bad at sales, it's just improving small pieces of it can really change the whole thing. 

TP: Oh, that was a good one.

SD: I'm sure you experienced that, too. You know, when we're young, and you're in business, it's, um, it can be very cutthroat and it can be very, like, just a yes or no, like, you're good or bad at it. And that's just really not the case. And that's my advice to anyone to who's kind of just new to the sales side of their business, you know, maybe they've never been comfortable doing it, or, you know, they just realise now they have to, but, you know, there's a lot of places between newbie and expert, like, you don't have to be an expert, just to be good at it. And there's a lot of really small things that you can do just to improve yourself along the way.

TP: Thank you so much. And thank you, Sarah, for joining us and sharing all those amazing tips. And if our listeners would like to know more about you and follow you, where can they do so?

SD: So first and foremost, my website is, where you're going to find some really good tips and info as well as my membership. So you can kind of see if you want to get some coaching, you can go there, it's a really great place to start. And then if you're on Instagram, I am at SMD coaching, and I'm sure Tuuli will put this on the caption, you can get it there. But there I put, you know, tips and tricks and daily info just to kind of help you in your journey so that you can get quick info and hopefully improve your deck.

TP: Huh. And all the links that you will find from show notes. And actually you have special call to our listeners you are recreating or actually you are doing a totally different service. Can you please tell us about that?

SD: So, sure, as part of the reimagining of my services, now that we will be having a child, I am starting the SMD Coaching Academy, which is a really low cost way to get the information that you need in the sales world. Basically, you can check it out at my website, but for $50 a month, you're going to be able to get not only group but individual coaching with me via video, as well as access to all our blogs, downloadables any videos that we do, and monthly workshops. And as part of being a listener today, we're going to do a coupon code that allows you to get the first month for free. So come check it out. And really, if you're just there to get some good, you know, Q&A kind of activity, it's going to be a really good place for you to learn the things that you want, without all the pressure of maybe going through an actual course. But being able to ask an expert, your specific questions.

TP: Wow, that's great. And thank you so much for this possibility. Free month, yes, please!

SD: There's a coupon code and is in the notes so you can get it there. 

TP: Yes, definitely. Thank you so much, Sarah. It was really amazingto speak with you and my best wishes for you and this little person inside you.

SD: Thank you so much. It's been really fun.

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