There are so many things to do when operating a small business. There are business plans to write, inventory to purchase, supplies and equipment to buy, hiring quality team members, and having a good location. You have to ensure that the facility is kept clean, that paperwork is kept in order, taxes and vendors are paid in a timely fashion, and you are adequately marketing your company. This list could go on and on. But, nothing has really been done until you’ve sold something. Everything else may be important, but none of them mean anything if you are not selling goods or services. You’re not in business to keep your shelves full and tidy, you are in business to make a profit, and you can’t do that until you sell something.
I’ve met store owners and employees who didn’t seem to understand that. Clerks have made me wait to check out until they finished filling up the shelf they were working on. Some were clearly frustrated when I interrupted what they were doing with a question on how to find something in their store. I want to give them my money, and they want to finish dusting a shelf. Here’s a novel idea for a business: Take the money. Make the sale.
The most important thing that happens in any small business is sales. Without sales you have no income, without income you have no profit, and without profit you soon won’t have a business. Every team member reporting for work should have one clear focus: to sell something. That should be their focus every day. They may not be in the sales department, but every person in your company needs to understand that everyone is in sales. Some may be selling the product or service your company offers while others are in the business of selling your company and its brand.
It’s funny that even some salespeople do not understand how critical sales are for a business. Such salespeople may be great at doing a sales presentation, but they forget to ask for the sale. They work hard at developing a relationship with a possible client, but never get around asking for the sale. Or, if they do ask for the sale, many times they make it easy for the client to say no.
Here are some things your salespeople needs to consider when talking to your clients.
- Know your product, your client’s needs, and how your product or service can better meet that need than your competitors.
- Ask questions. This is how you learn your client’s needs. After asking your questions, shut up and listen. Your client will tell you what he or she wants.
- Use their comments in your close. Few people will reject their own ideas.
- Sell the sizzle, not just the steak. People are much less interested in your product or service as they are in how well your product or service will meet their needs.
- Make it easy for your clients to do business with you. Offer financing. Meet with them at a time that is convenient for them, not you. Develop policies that are client friendly.
- Be prepared with several possible closes and use them at various times in your presentation. If they agree to purchase your product or service, stop your presentation, take their check and get a signature. You’ve already sold them. There are no extra points for completing your presentation.
- Accept that call backs are a part of sales. It may take 7-8 call backs before you make the sale. Sometimes this is the result of poor presentations or the salesperson’s failure to clearly ask for the sale in an earlier presentation. Work to lower this number.
Obviously, there is more to know about selling than what’s listed here. For a fresh approach to selling I recommend you read Dan Kennedy’s book No B.S. Sales Success In The New Economy Kennedy doesn’t give you a lot of fluff but points out exactly how any business can improve its sales.