Don’t worry, this blog is not rude but you may feel we are because we’re going to be direct and blunt with you about why your business might be losing sales. Let’s start off with a disclaimer: running your own business is tough. There is so much to do, all of the time and if it was easy, everyone would do it!
However, you have to prioritise and sales and marketing should be at the top of your list – if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.
The Buck Stops With You, The Business Owner!
Why do you think your business losing sales? Do you blame the economy, the weather or your competitors? You could be right but actually, if you dig a little deeper and be honest with yourself, it’s your fault. Yes, you, the buck stops with the business owner!
In one of our previous blogs, we looked at facing rejection as a small business owner and we also touched on the idea that most business owners think ‘no’ means ‘no’, whereas, it really means ‘try again’.
We also suggested that most business owners give up way too easily, particularly when it comes to leads and sales, which leads us nicely onto the crux of the issue:
We’d like to say to all new business owners, F-U!…FOLLOW UP!
Do You Always Follow-up After Networking Events?
A lot of small business owners are bad at following up on leads and moving towards a sale. Sadly, we often hear stories about people who meet someone they’d love to talk to at a networking event, get the opportunity to speak with them, gain their contact details but don’t follow up with them! The reasons vary between, not having the confidence to speak to this brilliant contact to not making the time.
Let’s get this out in the open right now: we are all people. We are all flesh and blood and need air and food to survive. So what’s the problem? Don’t be intimidated by someone’s job title, the company they work for or the qualifications after their name, which are longer in length than your full name! Man up and contact them! Your business depends on it, right? And you depend on your business to pay your bills, right? So contact them.
The same can be said for ‘not having enough time’. This is nonesense. We all have 24 hours a day. Yes, time as a business owner is precious. Yes, there is always something else that could be done or needs to be done. But you have to prioritise. If you’re not actively marketing your business on a daily basis or devoting dedicated time to sales – you could be in serious trouble soon. Where do very successful small business owners find the time, they do have the same 24 hours? Prioritising and systems.
Start Small, Be Consistent
You don’t find time for anything worthwhile in life, you make it.
There are some really simple steps to combat this and you can start with baby steps. For example, why not commit just 30 minutes to these activities everyday, either first thing in the morning, before crises and other peoples’ needs distract you, or at night.
Gradually increase this to one or one and a half hours a day. And when you achieve this, you’ll be actively working on marketing your business and moving people along the sales process for 7.5 hours a week (1.5 hours, 5 days a week), which should be enough for you to start seeing a significantly positive change here.
Don’t Give Up, Follow-up!
On a related point, the last time a prospective client said ‘no’ to you, what did you do? Did you write them off completely, and erase them from your mind? Did you ask them ‘why?’ Or did you put them in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, with a note to contact them again in 6 months or so?
In our experience, very few small businesses do option three – following up; we have a habit of just accepting the rejection and moving on. However, wouldn’t it be great to know why you didn’t get the contract? “You were overpriced”, “they didn’t believe in your abilities”, “your beard is ridiculous!”
Even better, is to ask why AND continue to stay in touch with the customer “that got away”. This could be as simple as: adding them to your monthly newsletter, following them on social media (perhaps even put them on a private list on Twitter, such as, ‘Clients that got away) or even contact them 6 months or so down the line, to see just how well the job turned out.
Find a system that works for you, it could be a spreadsheet but use a system – scribbled notes, rough bits of scattered paper or keeping it in your head is not good enough!
We’ve heard several stories about businesses that lost out on a contract to a competitor, only for them to muck it up down the line. If this happens, and you’ve been following up with the ‘client who got away’ during this time period, who do you think they’ll want to replace your poor-performing rival?
Call it persistence, tenacity or just plain following up. It is a mindset and discipline that every business owner should adopt. However, we can overindulge in supporting a negative culture, where, “that’ll never work” and accepting ‘no’ are the norm. But running your own business is different so you can’t afford to adopt this approach – you need to change your attitude and switch to a more ‘entrepreneurial mindset’. In other words: don’t give up, follow-up!
Thanks for reading our blog, we’d love to hear from you so please leave your tips and thoughts on following-up below.