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Sales – the lifeblood of a business

By Cape Cod SCORE

Question: How can I elevate the concept of selling in my small business?

Answer: Sales are the lifeblood of every business.

There are no customers, no revenue, no profit, no business without sales. For a small business to extend its lifecycle beyond launch and into growth, there needs to be a sales mentality in every employee. It starts with whomever answers your phone to those who engage with customers to employees who execute the work, to the owner of the business who thanks the customer.

If you and your team do not view satisfying customer needs, wants and desires as a time-phased interaction, all you have are transactions that are short-lived.

Sales is not a dirty word.

It is an element of business discipline that is often misunderstood. In order to adopt a sales mentality it is the same as leadership. You need to share your vision (your value proposition)?

What do you offer to meet customer needs, wants and desires? How do you create relationships to get beyond transactional activities?

How do you provide solutions to address the pains and problems of your customers and prospects? So, the first step in creating a sales mentality for your business is to view what you do is helping. Helping customers achieve their objectives.

When you approach sales this way everyone in the organization is in sales.

Marketing and sales functions have to work together to generate sales. In a small business these two functions are normally vested in one person, namely the owner/ manager of the enterprise.

Marketing’s role is to generate awareness and identify potential customers. Sales' function is to close the order. Both functions have to drive customers through the buying continuum from being unaware to awareness to understanding, believability to trial, repurchase or referral. The most important sales call is the one made after the order is consummated, but before it is fulfilled — the one to say thank you. It is also the time to confirm expectations. “We will be on-site the week of Oct. 26 and will be there for 2-3 days.” From the moment you generate the sale, the prospect changes their relationship with you because they become a customer. To stay in that mode, they have to be valued.

After-sale activities need to focus on several functions: customer satisfaction, referral and upselling. The order is consummated, fulfilled and payment is received.

The real selling begins at that point since staying in touch periodically, physically or virtually maintains and increases the connection that creates value. Customers who are taken for granted by ignoring them until it is time to sell them again is a sure way to lose them. When a client’s needs are met or even better, exceeded, they are prime to be included in your virtual sales team by becoming a referral agent. This doesn’t happen without first having their expectations exceeded and two you asking them to refer you. Customers won’t refer you without you asking them to do so, and reward them for suggesting their friends and neighbors reach out to you for similar service. The third is upselling. Upselling is easier than cross-selling. It is easier for customers to upgrade their purchases than to consider

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payment is received. The real selling begins at that point since staying in touch periodically, physically or virtually maintains and increases the connection that creates value. Customers who are taken for granted by ignoring them until it is time to sell them again is a sure way to lose them. When a client’s needs are met or even better, exceeded, they are prime to be included in your virtual sales team by becoming a referral agent. This doesn’t happen without first having their expectations exceeded and two you asking them to refer you. Customers won’t refer you without you asking them to do so, and reward them for suggesting their friends and neighbors reach out to you for similar service. The third is upselling. Upselling is easier than cross-selling. It is easier for customers to upgrade their purchases than to consider crossselling which becomes a distraction since it requires new learning or acceptance of conditions.

One of the measures of efficiency for a sales function is customer acquisition, the cost to close a sale.

By creating standard and repeatable sales processes you can actually lower the cost of generating a sale. When you start small, you can scale up over time. The most cost-efficient way to generate opportunities for sales is to get referrals. But you have to ask for the referral and then reward your customers for helping you sell. If you keep a list of your current customers and key contacts, then you can periodically communicate with them to ask to a reference.

Another way to streamline your selling process is to minimize the number of decisions a buyer has to make to do business with you.

Fortune magazine does an annual poll of most admired companies. The overwhelming reason a company is noted in the poll is that they are easy to do business with. That means minimal decisions. If you can limit the number of decisions a buyer has to make to commit to you, the easier it is for them to make the decision to buy. Prospects say no for a number of reasons: no need, no money/budget, no urgency, or no trust. Having a streamlined, efficient sales system is to have ready answers to objection questions. What do you say when you get one of these four objections? Remember, objections are another way to ask a question, they are not obstacles that are preventing forward movement in the sales process.

We explored Kaizen in a previous column, however continuous improvement is a vital part of improving the performance of your sales function. Kaizen is not a top-down process, it is one that begins with empowered employees who are closest to the issues to find the root causes and implement modification. When you can standardize and document, you can demonstrate predictable outcomes. Documenting the sales process to identify the following becomes the basis for Kaizen for your organization —

sequence (what happens when, and in what order); task (detailed description of tasks and actions taken); systems (identification of systems requirements); time

(estimated time for each process);

dependencies (outside factors to

be considered); responsibilities

(responsible party for each task);

key points (what the responsible party needs to know), confirmation

(confirmed defined process is correct); and revisions (documented history of changes to the process). By mapping out your internal processes with the customer as the focal point, the value of the individual buyers becomes central to all of your decisions relative to process and procedures. Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, certified mentor. Contact SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands for a free and confidential appointment to accelerate your sales process: capecod.score.org, capecodscore@ verizon.net, 508-775-4884. NEW! Why do it alone? Talk to us about creating an advisory team to be an extension of your management team.

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