Sales … you can’t do business without it. Unless you’re running an expensive hobby, it’s every single company’s bottom line. Revenue is what generates the paychecks for everyone and keeps your doors open.
As a startup founder or small business owner, you are probably wearing more than one hat and sales activities are reluctantly at the top of your never-ending to-do list.
Generating sales doesn’t have to be this big, scary thing. In fact, the less big and scary it seems, the more sales you will rake in. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s not.
The old way of sales — the high pressure, hold people hostage and close them against their will method — has come and gone (thank God!). Today, we have marketing and sales tools at our disposal to organically convert interested shoppers into loyal customers.
Here’s a look at four practical ways to become more confident (and less queasy) about the sales process:
1. Begin with the end in mind
Always begin with the end in mind. The minute you start marketing to your audience is the beginning of the sales process. It’s not when you make your first phone contact, or when they agree to a meeting. It starts the second they realize you exist. Take time to reverse engineer that process. What could you do to make it easier for ideal clients to “get” you?
2. Discover your sales cycle
How many times do you need to talk to customers before they actually buy? How many interactions (i.e. touches) does it take before customers pull out their wallets?
So many entrepreneurs get started in business and they don’t know jack squat about sales, or they know just enough to be dangerous. Well, let me tell you a little secret: even a blind squirrel gets a nut every once in a while. And if you’re in this for the long-term, you’re going to need a plan.
As The Pedestal Group explains: “In a short sales cycle, you can get a lot of quick hits. A person makes a decision right away and there are no barriers or issues to hold them back. That means your marketing needs to be targeted, to the point, and SHORT.” In contrast, “if your sales cycle is long, then there are lots of opportunities for me to change my mind, look at other people, or generally stretch it out even more. In these cases, it is critical to identify key points in the process and sell to those.”
So, if it takes anywhere from 4-20 touches for potentials to convert into paying clients, you need a plan to condense that time frame and get to 20 touches as fast as humanly possible. That is the key to scaling your sales into the big leagues.
3. Be human, please
Stop sounding like a giant robot corporation. No one wants to feel like a number. If you’re talking to your potential clients in a general way, I promise you — no one is listening.
When you attempt to talk to everyone, you actually talk to no one. So, get super clear about your messaging, stay on point, and hit the gas. The best marketing strategies are hybrids. Thus, a mix of email, display ads, content marketing, etc. is a good gamble.
Everyone is triggered differently, so you need to be ready with a full spectrum of personalized marketing strategies to make your ideal clients feel special. Activate that part of the brain that leads to emotions —they’ll easily “get” you and then tell all of their friends. Jackpot.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale
This seems so basic, but over the last 14 years in business I’ve observed so many entrepreneurs are afraid to ask for the sale. This can look like so many things: sending people to your website to “check things out”, emailing pricing sheets, or just saying you’ll follow-up in a few days. That could be a lifetime in the sales cycle of a small business.
You’re already asking questions about how you can help solve their problems, just ask one more. Share how you’re helping others who have the same problem, along with their results and ask them “What if we could get you an outcome like that too? Would you like to explore that more?”
If you come from a place of being boldly curious about your clients and how you can passionately help them, you can never go wrong. That never comes off salesy and pushy. That is the key to driving revenue.
This article has been edited.
Gretchen Mall is a Sales & Success Strategist for tiny business owners who have giant dreams. She is a serial entrepreneur based in Virginia who believes the rules never apply to her. She loves disaster movies and short, romantic walks to the bank. Connect with @gretchenmall on Twitter.