One of the major differences between businesses that are stagnant and struggling and those that are vibrant and growing is a strong sales model.
Most businesses do not have unique, proprietary products or services. Website design, accounting, building products, recruiting, stationery are not significantly different from one business to another and having a compelling message and strong sales program is essential.
Building a sales system:
1) Develop a compelling sales message that separates you from the competition in terms that are important to your target audience. Work on your sales presentation skills and adjust after each presentation. Remember ‘the customer writes the pitch’ meaning that your sales pitch should evolve and grow with each presentation based on your prospect’s reaction.
2) Assemble some professional sales collateral – high quality business cards at a minimum.
3) Get your name out there. A professional looking website, facebook, e-mail newsletter, twitter and a blog are the basics. To this can be added YouTube videos, strong presence on LinkedIn and focused business networking. Be consistent!
4) Develop a sales funnel. Every sale takes time to close, for a variety of reasons, and so it is extremely important to have as many quality leads as possible. Create a list of businesses that you would like to do business with and begin to contact them directly.
5) Use a sales management system. I like online programs like Salesforce or Capsule, which are free at the one or two user level and can be accessed via the web – even on your smart phone. These programs allow you to see the proposed value of leads so that you can determine how much activity will result in how many sales. Keeping this pipeline full is essential.
6) Know what you’re doing next week. All of your marketing, social media and networking activity must result in face-to-face selling time. The problem is that most people don’t like to do this and will use all kinds of ‘urgent’ activity to avoid selling. If your sales calls are not booked by Friday for the following week they won’t happen. Allow this to go on for more than a few weeks then you will have some very difficult times down the road!
7) Never stop selling! Selling is the lifeblood of every business and it must happen constantly. If you experience regular dry spells in your business then you are not keeping your sales pipeline full! Make selling a priority and keep the business coming in! If you get too much business you can always raise your prices!
Most important is to realise that selling is a system and should be organized, supported and managed! Its success does not depend on the salesperson and if you are blaming your salespeople for the poor results you are looking at the wrong place – try the mirror! A good salesperson will thrive with a good sales system but the best salesperson can fail without the right tools!