2 July 2019
Many small business owners flinch at the mere mention of the word ‘sales’. Selling is often perceived as something only a certain type of person can handle – and if you don’t feel you fit the bill, it’s understandable that you might shy away from the sales side of things.
But guess what? The truth is that everybody can do sales. With the right perspective and a little guidance, you can become a master of selling your product or services and boost your potential to increase your SME’s revenue significantly.
Let’s dive into seven simple tips for small business sales success.
If you feel that ‘sales’ doesn’t come naturally to you, you might find yourself leaning away from this aspect of the business. Perhaps you decide to hire someone else to look after sales for you, or perhaps you end up neglecting the sales side of things entirely. In the first case, you’re paying salespeople using money that could be put towards growing your business in other ways, if you undertook sales yourself. In the second case, you’re missing out on vital opportunities to increase your business revenue.
Obviously, neither of these scenarios is ideal. So how can you get past the barriers and gain the confidence to take on sales yourself?
The first step is dispelling the myth that selling is some mystical skill – something that certain people are born to do, while others just aren’t. As we said above, you don’t have to be a particular type of person to succeed at sales. When it comes down to it, if it’s your product or service you’re selling, then you are the right person for the job.
Always keep in mind that no-one knows the problem you’re solving like you do. Draw confidence from that and let it drive you as you seek out new clients, customers and opportunities.
Speaking of customers…
While MARKETING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS is all about making it easy for the right people to find you and take action, sales is about finding those people and actively helping them take action. So how do you ensure you’re targeting the right people and tailoring the right sales approach to draw them in?
The answer is simple: know your audience. This is absolutely key to any successful sales approach. When it comes to your clients and customers, you should know:
Understanding who your best customers are allows you to narrow your sales focus to those most likely to increase your business revenue. It also helps you take a targeted approach that speaks directly to those potential clients’ requirements and circumstances.
When it comes to small business sales, you need to wear a couple of hats. The first is your prospecting hat, which transforms you into a relentlessly energetic, determined and focused prospecting machine as you pursue leads. It also involves doing the necessary calculations: for example, if you know your conversion rate is 10% and you need 100 customers to sustain your business, you need to talk to 1000 businesses.
To balance out the prospecting side of things, though, you also need to wear your ‘human’ hat. This means communicating with people personably, honestly and naturally. Take cold reachouts, for example. The goal of these is to initiate a conversation so you can understand the other person’s needs and problems, and naturally bring things around to your solution. This means your cold emails need to be personalised (and ideally brief), and when you take things to the in-person conversation stage, you need to be friendly and focused on building a relationship.
Which brings us to more sales conversation tips…
People who succeed in sales are people who listen to those they’re selling to. An authentic sales approach is about understanding a customer’s needs and matching their problem to your solution. It’s not about trying to convert a customer who doesn’t really fit your ideal audience – this is a waste of time, both for you and for the person on the other end of your sales pitch.
Basically, if you’re selling things to people who don’t actually need them, a few things can happen:
To make sure you’re targeting the right kind of people (remember those ideal customers we talked about in point 2?), you need to listen more than you talk in every sales conversation you have.
Sales isn’t a one-time, set-and-forget strategy. It’s about doing the initial groundwork and then being conscientious and following up. But that’s where you’ve got to be careful – it can be all-too-easy to overdo it.
We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve felt hounded by someone trying to sell us something through overzealous or even aggressive follow-up tactics. And that’s obviously the opposite of how you want your potential customers to feel.
The key with following up is to be persistent yet reasonable, and always respectful. Pushiness and constant follow-ups come across as desperate and will land you in the ‘spam’ folder quicker than you can say ‘I don’t know if you saw my last email…’
It’s also worth keeping in mind that sales cycles can vary. Some are very long (like moving office spaces, for example) and others are impulsive (like buying flowers). Your follow-up sales strategy will depend on your particular business and the type of product or service you’re selling.
Generating leads and following up is all well and good, but none of it matters unless you actually close the deal and convert those leads into sales. To make your business as profitable as possible, you have to actually make the ask!
This is another area where (polite) persistence pays off. Send your potential customer an agreement, set a date in stone to get the ball rolling – do what you have to do to lock down that sale. If you’ve done the proper groundwork, built the relationship and proven you can meet that customer’s needs, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Our final tip extends beyond the initial sales period into the customer relationship itself. Always remember that a good customer experience post-conversion is the small business owner’s best friend. If you deliver what you promised and go above and beyond, you’ll have customers singing your praises to anyone who’ll listen.
Everybody knows the power of word-of-mouth referrals. If you pay the same high-level attention to your customer during and after the implementation of your service or product, you’ll be amazed at the growth your business can achieve as a result.