Sales plays a huge part in the success of your small business. Here areÂ the key pieces you need to know to power the lifeblood of your company.
There are roughly 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S. Together, they account for more than half (54 percent) of our entire nationâ€™s sales revenue. Those are big numbers, but every dollar of revenue starts with a single sale. Without revenue from sales, these businesses wouldnâ€™t exist.
The majority of small businesses, 21 million, are sole proprietorships where the owner is also the only employee. About another 4 million employ between 1 and 4 people. So without the benefit of huge sales team, or sometimes any sales team at all, how can small businesses succeed at selling?
Having a sound overall sales plan you believe in and sticking to some best practices can help you keep your sales efforts on track and your company growing. In that spirit, here is a guide to sales for your small business.
First Thingâ€™s First: You Need A Plan
Your sales plan should identify who your potential customers are, set specific sales goals, and delineate the sales tactics that will meet them. It should also set a schedule and expectations, to stay on track and enable you to look back later and measure your success or identify any areas that need improvement.
A sales plan should also answer these questions:
- What type of group or individual will be likely to want what you are selling?
- How will you identify and reach out to them?
- How can you generate leads within your target market?
- Once you identify and reach out to your potential customer group, how will you make sales?
- Given what your small business sells, what are the best ways to build relationships and gain repeat customers?
Create A Perfect Pitch
Great salespeople arenâ€™t born, theyâ€™re made through practice, preparation and determination. The first and most important thing they practice is their sales pitch. Once youâ€™ve created a pitch it is like having an ace up your sleeve that you can use over and over. A good pitch does not convince someone to buy something they donâ€™t want. Rather, it is about informing someone who you are and why they should want your product. It is about you, as much as the product. Summarize who you are, what your business does, why what you sell is useful or important. The best pitch is one that informs about the product/service, as well as shows off your passion for your business and what you do. You donâ€™t always have to â€˜sellâ€™ someone in a pitch; sometimes itâ€™s as simple as telling them why you believe in your product.
Once youâ€™ve created a pitch, practice itâ€¦a lot. Prepare for any follow up questions or counter arguments. Have a smooth response for any likely objection that might be presented. Knowing your business and what it sells inside and out is the best way to prepare yourself to land customers.
Practice Makes Perfect
You canâ€™t learn if you donâ€™t make mistakes. Sales, like life, is much the same way. Sales takes work. Most interactions with potential customers will not end in sales. The author J.K. Rowling had her Harry Potter book rejected 12 times before it was bought by a publisher. Look at rejections as opportunities to improve.
Objections Are Opportunities
During a potential sale, objections are not the same as rejections. When a potential customer asks questions, or is hesitant and expresses concerns about the purchase, take this as a promising sign of interest. As long as a person is still engaging with you, they have likely not made their mind up. Rather than tell them what they want to hear, be straightforward and honest. Acknowledge their concern, rather than becoming defensive or pushy, and address it.
Listen, But Be Passionate
Listen to your customers, and listen to your potential customers. During a sale, you should do only about a third of the talking. And the majority of what comes out of your mouth should be questions, prompting the prospect to tell you about their challenges. The sale opportunity is about the other person, not you. Rather than pushing them to make a decision, listen to what they are asking and saying, and give them the information they need to make the decision on their own.
At the same time, when you do speak, let your passion for what you are selling show. Your belief in the product should come across. If it does, that will do much of the heavy-lifting of making the sale.
Know When To Close
Even very interested potential customers will not close the sale themselves. At some point, after your pitch and after the person has no more objections or questions, you need to move the sale to a close. This is not about making someone feel pressured to decide. Instead, the move to close should not come until the person has essentially already made their decision. A sale may take 1 minute or 30 before it is time to close. But when it is, this is when the abstract becomes concrete for the potential buyer. They have to agree to actually make a specific purchase. There are a virtually endless number of techniques you can use to make the close. It is up to you to decide which way is the best considering your preferred style, your product, and even the specific prospect you are engaging with.
Pro Tip: Inbound Sales and Customer Support Sales Are Still Sales
Up to this point, each tip has focused on how to land a customer through techniques and tactics that require a you or your sales team. However, not every sale has to come from a valiant hunting effort. Build a strong enough brand with a solid reputation and soon customers will be calling you to place an order, effectively fast-forwarding through the majority of the sales cycle.
When this happens, having a customer support team just as professionally prepared as you and your sales team can be critical to helping close those inbound calls or turning customer calls into upsell opportunities. One of the most effective and affordable ways to achieve this level of customer support execution is by partnering with an advanced call center agency that provides highly professional phone answering services. With experienced and proven phone agents managing your inbound calls, you can focus on landing major accounts while confidently knowing you have a strong system in place to augment your efforts.
With a call center support team on your side, you never miss an opportunity to capture a lead and land a new customer. Plus, the improvements made to your customer service will lead to increased customer retention and repeat business.
Sales Are Your Business
Whether you are running a business that offers a cleaning service, sells consumer products online, or operates in a B2B environment, to survive, your business has to make sales. To do this successfully, small businesses need to hone their teamâ€™s understanding of the brand message, the product and/or service and make sure the right resources are in place to support the customers. Create a sales plan for finding customers, how to connect with them, how to keep them and how to measure your progress. Once youâ€™ve lined up your targets and sharpened your skills, the only thing left is to seize the opportunities in front of you.