Sales Is a Process and Not Just a 90-Second Pitch!
What sort of words would you use to describe “sales” or “selling”?
And if we ask you to think of a typical salesperson, what do you think of? A used-car salesman? A saleswoman in a phone shop? A sales assistant in a department store?
Sadly in our experience, your answers are probably negative. However, as a business owner, you need to make sales to survive and grow.
If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.
Sales – A Dirty Word?
“Sell me this pen?”. We hate cliches but this is a good ‘un. At this point, when we ask new business owners this question, they give one of two replies: they either recite the dialogue from the infamous “Wolf of Wall Street” scene or (worse!) they launch into a sales massive pitch about how good the pen is, that it’s available in all colours (even “Acorn green!”) and that it allows the buyer to write things down. Whilst all of these pen facts are correct, it’s a typical example of how a lot of business owners sell…or fail to do so.
We’ve already covered aspects of selling before in two previous blogs: the importance of the F-Word for New Business Owners (following-up!) and what “no” really means (dealing with rejection).
This blog is here to offer you some pointers on selling as a business owner.
What’s the Problem?
We’ve said before that ultimately, businesses exist to solve peoples’ problem, and when it comes to selling, this is what it’s all about. We covered the importance of doing research (not too much yet not too little!) before launching your new business in this blog.
Let’s go back to the pen again, instead of listing off all of the features and benefits of the pen, instead focus on the problem it solves. Therefore, instead of telling people everything the pen does, ask them questions to work out if the have a NEED for a pen.
If you ask a prospective customers, “do you do a lot of writing?” and they respond “no”, then that’s an easy way to work out if they’re going to need your services or not. This allows you to work out if they have a problem that your pen would solve.
If you hadn’t asked this sort of question, and instead, downloaded everything you know about your pen onto this poor individual, you will waste your time and their’s – and possibly irritate them in the process! This sort of behaviour occurs at networking events across the UK on a daily basis, watch out for it! Instead: ask, listen! Ask, listen! Ask, listen!
All Business Is Based on Relationships
All business is based on relationships and just because someone doesn’t buy from you or need what you are selling at this time, that’s not to say they don’t know someone else who has this problem or that they can’t help you in some other way – they may even be a customer in the future, remember the F-word (follow-up!).
Of course, there is an element of education when it comes to selling. People may not know they have a problem, therefore, don’t know they need a pen. In this case, it’s your job as the business owner to educate your customers, and a good way to do that is through blogging and videos – we covered marketing activities, including, content marketing, in this previous blog.
On the other hand, no matter how much you educate potential customers, some will never need a pen, some will use another writing tool and others will buy from your competitors – and all of that is fine.
A lot of new business owners feel like they have to sell to “everyone” and whilst this is somewhat true in the beginning, to bring in money and until you figure out exactly who your customers are, it’s not a long-term strategy for any business.
No business targets everyone!
Add Value; Don’t Sell!
Let’s face it, most people hate “being sold to” and most business owners hate selling.
Here’s a typical example: despite what businesses believe, the main reason for going on facebook isn’t to read about them and their product and services, we use it to connect with our friends and families. Yet every day, I read pleas for attention and sales pitches from businesses on facebook, whilst I’m actually on there building relationships with people in my life – and maybe looking for articles to read or interesting content, from a few selected brands that I trust.
Advertising, and even just having a presence on facebook as a business, definitely has it’s place, but only if it adds value in some way: educates, inspires or entertains. It certainly isn’t a place for plumbers to make constant sales pitches, butchers to offer monotonous price discounts and people to sell shellac nail extensions (whatever they are!) on a daily basis! This is desperate and you’re better than that.
Don’t Be A Hater!
Until recently, I was certainly one of the haters, I really didn’t like selling in general but this has now changed. I love it!
I think a lot of people hate selling because they don’t truly believe in the product or service, they lack confidence or they lack experience – or possibly a mixture of all three.
Yes, there are books you can read or selling, you’re reading this blog right now and there are also lots of other resources you can use to educate yourself, when it comes to getting better at making sales for your new business, however, the best way is to get yourself out there!
You’ll make mistakes, you’ll lose sales and you’ll fluff up, but as a startup, you should be used to that by now, and if you’re not, you soon will be as it goes with the territory! On the upside, focus on what the positives will be when you get it right. Just think about it!
Why Do I Now Love Sales?
What changed to make me love selling? It’s simple, I did.
Instead of being scared, I took action. Instead of thinking what could go wrong, I thought about what could go right. Instead of trying to “sell to” people, I aim to “help” people.
It all comes back to the pen and the problem you’re solving as a business. Yes, there are other pens on the market, however, I passionately believe that the Acorn Enterprise one is THE BEST one on the market. If I didn’t truly believe this, I wouldn’t be doing this.
And if you don’t truly believe that your business is the best in the market (or has the potential to be), then perhaps you should consider trying to find another business idea to pursue where this is the case.
You may not realise it but people buy into you, the business owner, as much as the product or service. Your vision, your enthusiasm and your beliefs. If you’re not excited about running your own business and solving peoples’ problems, how can you expect others to be? Passion sells!
There will always be competition, rivals selling things cheaper than you, others making more noise than you, and that’s cool so just focus on you and where you’re going.
Find customers with a problem, listen to them, educate them, help them, be passionate, be different, build the relationship, follow-up and that’s it. Selling is easy!
But remember, sales is a process and not just a 90-second pitch.