You can tweet all day long, but all the ‘likes’ in the world won’t put money in your business account. When it comes to surviving in business, you need cold, hard cash.
To bring money in, you’re going to have to understand sales techniques and sales-closing techniques. You’re also going to need a sound sales and marketing strategy. Here’s our short summary of the world of sales.
Profits don’t just happen by accident. Businesses that adopt the best sales techniques are the ones that usually have the healthiest bottom lines.
A sales strategy is a plan adopted by a business that sets out how they’ll approach selling their products and services so they’ll show a profit. There’s no escaping it: to achieve this, you’re going to have to talk to potential customers. We’ll come to that later. First, where will you be selling?
Whatever you’re selling, you must know your target market. If your product is household cleaning products, it wouldn’t make sense to advertise in an adventure sports magazine. Beyond that, you’ll need to consider where your target customers are located, their age group, their income, education and spending habits.
Understanding your market is key to the sales strategies you adopt. Knowing their individual characteristics will enable you to decide on selling by mail, by email, by sales funnel or even in person n the street. What will they be most receptive to?
Your sales strategy should also consider the competition. Have they adopted a particular strategy successfully? Work out how you could use it in your own sales campaigns, or even improve on it.
So, what are the building blocks of a successful sales strategy for your small business?
Firstly, you should get to know the sales cycle. Here are the seven stages that hold true whether you’re selling digitally or in the real world.
1. Identify leads
The first stage is to identify your best prospects. To work out if a prospect is a good fit, ask:
2. Make appointments
Having decided on an audience, you next need to speak to them. Choosing the appropriate channel here is key.
Qualifying your prospects means determining if prospects are a good fit for your products. Make sure you’re pitching to qualified leads. That could mean asking for the right people from the prospect company to show up to your meetings.
A generic approach here won’t work. You need to tailor your messages for your audience. How does your offering solve their specific issues?
5. Overcoming objections
Even the most enthusiastic prospects will have doubts. Make sure you address them at this stage of the process.
6. Closing the sale
If you’ve done your job right, the presentation will have done the selling for you. Otherwise, you have some hard work ahead. Read up on sales-closing techniques.
7. Generate referrals
Once you’ve got a good relationship with your new client and your product is working well for them, ask them for referrals. People naturally trust opinions from people they know, and word of mouth is responsible for up to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
A good sales strategy for your small business should include four elements:
1. Reviewing the sales cycle
Get familiar with the sales cycle and adapt it — feel free to make it shorter or more targeted.
2. Understanding your audience
Ask the right questions. What makes them tick? What do they want or need? Try to have in-depth conversations with your prospects.
3. Concentrate on relationships
Try to see selling as a process, rather than a one-off hit. When your customers become loyal devotees of your product or service, you get repeat business. That’s way less costly than constantly looking for new clients.
4. Discover your value proposition
Don’t be a ‘me too’ business. Find a point of difference — something you do better than your competition. Are you more experienced? Quicker? Easier? Is your after-sales unbeatable?
Happily, there are a number of tried-and-tested sales promotion techniques you can use to reach other businesses.
We’re deep into the digital age, but certain traditional sales methods can still work for modern businesses. As we’ve seen above, building customer relationships has stood the test of time. It’s just been rebadged as ‘customer relationship management’ and turned into software.
Nurturing lasting relationships with customers is how you score cost-effective repeat business. But that initial connection often comes around through cold calling.
Once you’ve made your outbound sales calls and gained your customers, it’s down to you to listen to your customers’ changing needs and customize your products or services to meet them.
Never before have businesses been able to reach such a huge and far-flung audience. With the right online presence, you could be seen by millions of new customers.
You can drive them to your door with a clear and compelling website supported by an effective search engine optimization strategy. You can further target your preferred markets with a Google Ads pay-per-click campaign.
Selling over the web is less personal, but you can maintain good customer relationships with an active website that’s kept alive with a regular blog. And also through social media.
The ultimate extension of online sales is the sales funnel. If you don’t have one as part of your sales and marketing strategy, you’re missing out on customers.
The basis of the sales funnel is email marketing. You drive prospects to a landing page through pay-per-click advertising, or organically through social media or your blog. On that page, you ask prospects to sign up for your emails.
In return for this, you send them a lead magnet. That’s usually some useful information related to your industry.
You follow that up with email content covering different aspects of your business or industry. When your email sequence is finished, you make an offer — maybe 10% off their first order?
Once they’ve bitten, add their names to a new email list and begin the process again with a whole new set of emails. Throw a little remarketing into the mix to make sure you keep them interested. Now, off you go to create that sales strategy and sell, sell, sell.