Do you feel clueless about the small business sales process? If so, you’re not alone. Most entrepreneurs that start businesses do not have sales experience.
During the early stages of your business, you’ll go through a process that is quite common for all entrepreneurs — finding a product-market fit. Essentially you’ll have to figure out how your product or service solves the pain point of a particular customer segment and if they are willing to pay you money for your solution.
This is a really tough stage of customer development for all entrepreneurs, because it engages ‘trial by fire’ approaches. Standing at a crossroads of what customer’s perceive about your business and what you think you know about them. What’s more confusing for entrepreneurs is the notion that sales and marketing are the same — they aren’t.
Could it be, you are marketing your business and not selling? Or are you selling, but not getting results because you haven’t marketed your company to the right people?
Marketing paves the way for a strong sales execution. One without the other can spell disaster. The better, and more targeted your marketing efforts, the easier it is to qualify customers, move them through your sales pipeline and close deals.
If sales is not necessarily you’re startup strong suit, here are five quick facts that can improve your sales efforts and help you close more deals.
1. Know thy customer.
Ask yourself, “What specific people would benefit from the solution my company offers?” In other words, “What problem are we solving and for whom?”
It is really important to get a good grasp of who your customer is and their pain points that crave solutions. In theory, you should become your customer. In practical application this means you should engage them on social networks, read the trades they flock to for insight, and call a few of them to learn about their needs.
The goal of “knowing thy customer” is to gain intelligence — insight, knowledge and wisdom — that will help you create solutions that matter, differentiate yourself and make it hard for them to ignore you.
2. Practice makes ‘close to’ perfect.
If you’re gun-shy about selling to customers, take a page from Virgin Group business magnate Richard Branson’s playbook and simply say, “Screw it! Let’s do it!” The more you act, the less hesitation you’ll have about the selling process.
The fact remains, you won’t get it right on your first, second or tenth call. But that’s not the point. The goal is to become comfortable and confident in your ability to deliver a solution that customers would be crazy not to want. You’ll only gain this newfound gumption by taking the first steps, hearing “No”, listening to sales excuses, and then finally hearing “Yes, send us the invoice!”
3. Show me, “What’s in it for me?”
Let’s be honest. Customer’s don’t care about how great you are they want to know how much you care. Always keep this perspective in mind when you reach out to new business prospects. Before you hit send on that sales email or leave a voice message, consider if you have effectively positioned your business to deliver on, “What’s in it for me?”
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