How much business do you lose because you see “selling” as a necessary evil?

Are you often told you must increase sales?  It may be courtesy of a suggestion from your bank manager or accountant.  Or more than likely, it is you, that inner voice, telling you that you must lift sales this month, this year.

The key to increasing sales comes back to identifying and knowing your market, and as I’ve mentioned many times before, this is not “everybody”.  You need to sell more to those 20% of your customer base who provide 80% of your sales.  And you need to attract and convert more leads, more people like that 20% and not more of the 80% who only provide 20% of your sales.

It may mean resurrecting dead customers in your niche, previously good customers who have inexplicably dropped away. 

Whichever, your message must match the market – your research should tell you what is the right message for you market.

But of course marketing might get you the customer, but it won’t get you the sale.  Selling gets you the sale.

In most small businesses you are the salesperson, which makes it even more important that you consider the requirements of salesmanship.  It needn’t be “hypie”, in fact it shouldn’t be so.  So get those images of a used car salesman out of your mind.

A bloke called John Carlton who has a pretty good reputation in writing sales material described what he called “Salesmanship” as the art of helping people get what they need when they are seeking something.”

In the end it comes down to educating the customer.  The best sales people educate their customers.

Who do both customers and your staff turn to when they have a question?  They turn to you.   You are the person with the knowledge.  That’s why you started your business. 

Sales are the final step the overall marketing process, a process which starts with an enquiry and ends with dollars.

For some businesses the sales collateral may make the sale, for example for some web-based businesses such as those with shopping carts.  But I doubt whether that is you.  You’re more likely to be in a face-to-face situation, making the sale in person.

So “getting to yes” can be important for you, in fact crucial to your business.

For some reason many small business people regard salesmanship, selling, with disdain, if not a tainted skill.  In many business owner’s and manager’s eyes selling means manipulating customers into buying something they don’t really want. 

At the very best, it is considered a "necessary evil, required to run the business."  As a result, they go about it half-heartedly and lose sales they might otherwise have legitimately gained.

At times like these, do you want to kill your business by turning away customers?  Never forget that they came through your door because they had something on their mind, some problem they needed solving at some stage.

Learning how to sell was not part of the course when you spent all those years learning your trade or skill, the expertise that has enabled you to start your business in the first place.

Some people have learnt how naturally.  They worked out how to sell.  They learnt that sales success is all about stringing together the simple essentials of educating your prospect so that becoming a paying customer is the natural next step for them.

Surely developing a stream of paying customers is one of the most vital ingredients of your business’s success.  After all, if you don’t feed customers into the operation, very little profit comes out of the far end.  Developing sales skills deserves the respect, energy, training and scrutiny that you would give to your financial statements or operations or any other business function. 

The majority of sales people have no formal training, are given little time to learn their job and lack the skills to know whatthey need to ask for to be successful.  This is all occurs in what is arguably one of the most important roles in an organisation.

I’ll look at how you can build those skills, and the importance of building trust next week.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 


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