Sales are the key to keeping your business alive. But do you have an organized sales process that consistently generates leads in your business? Or are you chasing anyone whom you think has money to pay you? A common mistake many businesses make is not working on business development daily. This leads to feast or famine cash flow, which is a great source of stress for any business owner.
Selling is the most essential way to convince buyers of the value of your products and services. Too often, though, marketing and sales are confused. Marketing is getting the word out about the problem your company solves. Sales is when you are taking orders or in a position to pitch and/or send a proposal for a specific piece of business. 90 percent of small businesses get business from referrals, so the important thing is to build relationships with your customers.
So are you looking to increase sales? Here are a few tips on the various ways you can boost sales in your small business.
One of the best ways to help your sales process is to have a clear understanding of your target audience or niche customer. You should also develop your ideal customer profiles, also known as personas. You should also define your annual sales goal, your long-term vision for your business, your core solutions, and their value if you want to be successful with sales. A simple strategy combined with a well-developed sales process makes selling more straightforward.
Your company only grows if the productivity of your sales grows. A well-outlined selling process allows you to set goals, generate consistent leads, develop sales funnels, track communication, and decide how you will spend your time engaging target customers. Doing this will allow you to evaluate the performance of your process, and coach a sales rep to improve in particular areas. Every sales rep will apply their own personality and unique touch to your selling process, which is a major advantage. When you establish a consistent approach, you can more effectively train and develop your sales rep.
Use data to drive your sales communications. Resist the urge to go on hunches or what “feels” like the best way to sell. These days there are many options for high-quality CRM and marketing automation programs. Integrate the software into your small business sales system. Some of the software that I use include ZohoCRM or MixMax, which I leverage with Gmail. By collecting data on prospects and customers, tracking my email open rates, social media interactions and comparing customer to their buying activities, you get a more precise view of what products and communication methods work best with different customers. This will enable you to engage your customers where they respond the best. The more precise you understand the needs, preferences, and motives of a buyer, the greater the ability to communicate value. People buy a solution that solves their problem.
Are you tired of being the only person in your business who thinks about how your business makes money? If so, it is probably time to hire a sales rep. When bringing on someone to sell for you, I strongly encourage you to consider the first impression this person will make with your potential customers. Your sales reps are called that because they represent who you are, your brand, and what you would do if you were there in person.
Before bringing on your first salesperson, there are some specific thing you should do to set yourself up for success. First, define your selling process and goals. It is essential to you know what you want in a salesperson. You’ve also got to know what you want to achieve in sales. Otherwise, your salesperson will have no guidance, and it’s a costly mistake. Here are a few pointers for hiring your first salesperson.
If you have been selling as a lone wolf—you probably manage a lot of the sales details in your head. When is that last time you really updated your CRM with communication details? You need a clearly-developed sales process that you can teach someone. Especially if you want to hand it over to a professional salesperson to support your business. Spend time cleaning up your customer and target lists, and make a list of businesses whom you’ve not done business with in 2-3 years to give your rep somewhere to start. Be clear about your sales cycles, so your rep with know what to expect. Add details to your customer profiles, such as key contacts, budget renewals, and average spend.
Buyer personas (or marketing personas) are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Personas help us internalize the ideal customer you’re trying to attract. It helps you relate to your customers as real people. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention. Creating a document outlining buyer personas, existing customers, and target customers can help you not only get a handle on your sales process, but it can also guide your new salesperson.
A proper sales strategy focuses on really understanding your target customers and where to reach them. This will help you determine the best channels to deliver your key marketing messages on, and in many cases, we are talking about what channel to leverage such as email, LinkedIn, or Twitter. But, since all sales are about doing business with people whom you like, know and trust, it is also about touching them in real life. You might use social to start the conversation, but the follow-up is usually on a secondary channel. (i.e., email, zoom, phone or tradeshows).
Before you begin the hunt for a sales rep, decide exactly what kind of sales assistance you need. Are you looking for a consultant who can spend a few hours selling your products or services each week or someone to commit full-time to your organization? How will you pay them? Commission, salary, or combination? The better you define the role, your needs, and your compensation structure, the more likely you are to attract quality talent who is willing to work for what you are willing to pay.
I once hired a sales rep who was referred to me by someone who was an expert sales trainer in my professional network. Because our relationship started outside of my formal hiring process, she had a better understanding of her personality than if she had been trying to impress me in an interview. If you don’t know of anyone who might be a good fit in your sales role, ask your network. Post it in a private Facebook or LinkedIn group. You’ll want to include online and offline contacts, and even friends or family in your outreach. Explain what you’re looking for, and see if anyone can send you a good referral. My salesperson is amazing, because people who knew us both thought we would work well together, and we are an amazing team.
When you meet with a potential sales rep, be open and honest about your needs and what you can pay. I cannot stress how important it is to find the right fit for your business and goals, and you’ll find the right individual only if you share where your company is currently (even if it’s not doing so well) and where you want to take it. Then sit back and let him or her talk. You want to find someone who has ideas about how you can make more money. They should have experience doing that for past employers or clients, and if they’ve already got contacts in your industry, that is even better.
You wouldn’t get married after the first date. So don’t marry your sales rep either-even if he or she talks a good game. Conduct a trial run with your new sales rep. Take that old client list and let them work on it for 90 days. This will give them a chance to get to know how you run things and see if they can dig up a few new sales. If you like their work, extend the offer to a permanent one. It’s hard to find a great salesperson, but if you get the right person, you’ll be able to grow your business more rapidly.
As the business owner, you must mentor your employees; this is particularly true for sales reps. They need to be encouraged and reminded about weekly sales goals. As you work to develop your sales rep, focus on the particular areas of needed improvement. Monitor execution at each selling stage, including lead generation, appointment setting, proposal management, closed contracts, and customer follow-up. Some sellers need to enhance efficiency in getting prospects to agree to receive a proposal. Others need training on lead generation skills.
A big part of transforming your small business is fixing your sales issues so that you can boost sales and generate the revenue you need to make money and feel less stressed in your business. Everything is connected to boosting your sales processes. Start with developing clear sales goals, organizing your lead generation, and tightening your sales process. Hire a seasoned sales rep who knows how to sell and wants to sell for you. Take advantage of technology to leverage data. And lastly, develop sales training, so that your rep delivers and revenue becomes like clockwork, always rolling into your business. If you can follow through with all these steps, you will be able to boost sales in your small business and grow that business into what you always dreamed it could be.
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