I was recently talking to one of my co-workers about working in sales and how it makes most people very uncomfortable.  I have seen several colleagues in therapy-related fields shy away from the word “sales” and respond with “I feel bad”.  Why do we feel bad?  Probably because we associate the word with the Macy’s perfume pushers and late night infomercials.  But would we still feel bad if we were selling a product we really believed in, knew would work and could benefit others?

No, I’m not talking about a miracle face cream.  I’m talking about music therapy.

I guess growing up with parents and grandparents that all owned their own businesses I became used to the “sales” way of life at a young age.  I can remember creating art projects and trying to sell them for a quarter at my grandparents store at a very young age.  I was encouraged to sell lemonade and jewelry at every garage sale and as I grew I was encouraged to sell my skills at musical and chorus auditions.  While, as an awkward pre-teen, this was an absolute challenge, I could not be more appreciative for that exposure as an adult professional.  Now I am motivated to sell my services as a music therapist because I believe in the value and I know the benefits first hand.

I know as a music therapist, especially if you are on staff at an organization, it is easy to become complacent and stick to the routine schedule, but I would like to challenge you to try one thing each week that makes you feel a little “awkward”.   If sales and networking is not your forte, there is no time like the present to practice!  If you notice that some of your co-workers just don’t quite “get it” when it comes to music therapy, take this opportunity to set up an informal music therapy 101 “lunch and learn”.  Not only will you get a chance to sell your awesome music therapy abilities, but you will most likely build rapport with and gain respect from your colleagues.  Win win!

Here are a few tips on successful selling:

1) It’s all about the confidence.  People will only commit to a product or service if they believe the salesperson truly believes in what is being sold.  This should not be a problem for any passionate MT.

2) Know your audience.  You don’t want to insult a well informed CEO with a basic “what is music therapy speech” just as you wouldn’t necessarily get into the medical jargon with a patient’s family member.  Be flexible and have a few different “sales pitches” handy.

3) Follow-up.  Whether or not you got the response you were looking for, no contact made is ever wasted.  Be sure to follow-up and always keep an open door.  You never know who that person knows or will know in the future.

“Sales” does not need to be a dirty S-word.  Growing in confidence as a public speaker and salesperson can help secure your career and build professional relationships.  Now get out there and sell!