The Fundamentals for Successful Selling
As a small business owner, your topic of conversation will frequently be the sales journey. At the start of your business it’s all about securing that first sale and then once this is achieved (hoorah!), the discussion moves to ensuring that the sales funnel is constantly fed so that there is a steady stream of customers for that all-important cash flow.
Having started my own business 9 months ago, I can relate to this. The sudden realization that you’re in sales whatever your area of expertise is quite a game changer – a new source of anxiety but lots of fun at the same time. Getting out and about and networking becomes a part of the day job and having a sales conversation, whatever the format, is a matter of course.
New businesses, new challenges and new pressures, but hopefully new goals and achievements too. Obvious isn’t it? So, imagine my surprise when on my travels it’s become obvious that even established businesses frequently feel vulnerable in this area. Surely they’ve done the work and earned the badge of honour? Yes, they achieved a massive amount and have grown considerably, but as they often admit themselves, they’ve hit a sales ceiling and aren’t really sure why. Strange. Having spoken to them, however, in some detail it becomes abundantly clear that they have one (if they’re lucky), or a number of obstacles that need to be negotiated:
Obstacle #1 - They have fallen out of love with their product or service and have become half-hearted, and in some cases, embarrassed of their area of expertise
Obstacle #2 - They no longer see the benefit and the value that they offer their customers
Obstacle #3 - They are knocked off balance by competitor activity or see other industries offering more compelling messages and business models. Their business suddenly feels dull and pedestrian
Obstacle #4 - They need to widen their sales net but don’t really know how or where to start in order to grow their business further. What was initially an acceptable and manageable sales ground suddenly feels restricting and just not enough to support future aspirations
Some very real challenges I think you’d agree, but the good news is that these challenges which seem big and hairy at the time can, more often than not, be easily overcome. Contrary to belief, the solution doesn’t need to be rocket science and can sometimes be staring you in the face.
If some of these issues are familiar to you the first step is to stop and take stock of your business and your current strategy with the following areas of initial interrogation
As Simon Sinek says in his award-winning book “Start with WHY?” (most definitely worth a read), it’s critical to understand, and to be able to communicate, why you love the business you’re in and what gets you out of bed in the morning. To this end, thinking about your bigger mission for your business is an important start (What is your WHY?). If you deliver IT cabling for instance, what is it BIG PICTURE that drives you? Connecting people? Delivering connected working environments that empower your customer? With a higher purpose nailed you’ll be able to think beyond the obvious rational features (the WHAT) that are true but don’t necessarily appeal to the heart and minds of your customers. This is the first step to positioning your business
Being clear about your product or service and how it is different from the competition is another exercise to undertake. Knowing about your market, your consumer and the benefit which your business provides as well as how you sit vs. your competitive set will enable you to talk confidently and compellingly about the reason that your customer should invest in you (the WHAT).
Once the WHY and the WHAT have been established it’s a good idea to look further than your own business reality. We now know about the powerful elements of your message however another factor to consider is your sphere of influence. If you are interested in broadening your reach, which industries or areas would be suitable targets, and do you understand enough about them and how your business can be effectively positioned for subsequent sales activities (the HOW)? Or alternatively you may just be pitching to a new client, but the question remains the same – what is it about their business which positively correlates with yours? Do you know enough about their industry, their challenges and opportunities to be able to powerfully connect with them?
The above may or may not seem obvious to those who have been in sales all their life, but it’s amazing how many of us easily forget. If you’ve lost your mojo, or can’t see the wood for the trees, you can quite easily get stuck and forget the principles of best practice. Sometimes a simple nudge can be all that is required to get back on track or on occasion some more targeted activity may be more suitable. Either way, it’s a healthy exercise for you to undertake for your business whatever stage and a healthy activity for you.
Good luck in your sales pursuits!
If you’re interested in checking out whether you’re sales ready then feel free to take this online review: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VtGqZMkE_dtWcr5C0S--Il6U8Zayp8dHNcMXOxmNzuU/edit