Small business sales growth can be effectively managed, and sustained, with sales contact management and sales leads software. Business process management tools (such as software) will focus your sales efforts and help you in B2B or B2C selling.
Sales, particularly from the business owner's perspective, is often viewed as a significant challenge.
Why is selling so difficult? And why is building successful small business sales even more so?
Selling is a necessary aspect of EVERY business.
Therefore all business owners need to understand the process and ensure that you use the best strategies and tactics to build and grow your sales; and that you employ the best people to help you sell and service your customers.
Sales is part of your marketing mix: your business may sell through personal selling, telemarketing, direct marketing, through sales agents or wholesalers, or other sales channels.
With business process management tools that are focused on sales (such as sales contact management software, sales leads software and/or sales lead management software), you can track and manage leads, prospects, and customers.
No matter what you do, at some point you will have to sell an idea, a service, a product ... something ... to someone. (For example, selling a service will require a specific selling strategy for services; selling a product will require a different approach.) To be a small business success, youur organization needs to be successful at selling.
Selling is NOT necessarily the primary strength of small business owners. In fact, like many people, you might actually dread doing the selling for your business.
You therefore have two choices:
Learn how to sell and to love it (because if you don't love selling it will show);
Or hire or outsource someone to do the selling for you (if you choose to hire or outsource this function make sure you understand how to manage and build a good sales commissions and employee compensation program for them (and understand the role of human resources in building this program).
This is the challenge for small business owners: recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and acting on that recognition.
If you are not doing the selling yourself, but you are responsible for the sales force management of the people who sell for you, this small business sales information will still be useful.
For those small business owners who don't like selling, think about selling as you would about creativity. (It's not that big a stretch). I learned from Donna Williams, founder and creator of www.BusinessBurrito.com that thinking creatively is a willingness to think beyond what is and envision what could be. And that's exactly what you need to do when you sell; you must envision your most desired response - the sale!
Use sales lead management software to manage and track your sales leads and prospects. Consider the effectiveness of other software or programs (such as contact management or customer relationship management tools in your business. If these tools fit your business, you will be able to save time and resources while managing, and increasing, sales.
Before you start selling, you need to do a strategic marketing management review. In short, look for your product differentiation advantages - the ones that make you a leader. If you haven't already done so, make sure that writing a business plan with a focus on your strategic marketing and sales plan is a priority.
Develop your own unique sales style; your sales strengths need to be emphasized; your sales weaknesses need to be eliminated or at least managed and minimized (hire someone to compensate for your weaknesses if you need to).
Make sure your unique sales style includes a unique value proposition to ensure that you can offer a value based sales approach (what your business does that makes it unique from others) that fits with your business' values and value statement, vision statement, mission and objectives.
Learn how to develop strong customer relationships and build your own unique sales story; no matter what anyone else says, selling is still relationship based (however the relationship, while important, is not the only part of the selling equation).
Develop strong negotiating skills. Always work for a win/win solution. Focus on the unique value and benefits of your products and services. Match them to your customers' needs or problems (your goal is to provide your customers with a solution to their problem; your product or service).
Learn how to write effective proposals for request for proposals (RFPs), request for information (RFI), request for quotes (RFQ).
Learn how to sell on attributes other than price and build a strong competitive strategy - particularly if you are NOT a low-cost provider.
Learn how to ask for the order. Then be quiet until you hear either the yes or the objection (if you hear the objection make sure you can respond to overcome it - be prepared).
As a small business owner, you also need to adapt your professional selling skills approach depending on whether your business sells to other businesses (known as business-to-business selling or B2B selling) or whether your business sells to consumers (known also as business-to-consumer selling or B2C selling).
Your plan also needs to provide you with milestones to measure and track against: the sales plan is your roadmap to help you get where you want your business to go.
Often, business owners do not invest enough resources into training professional sales people, and service representatives, on the critical elements that might help to close sales: that is, understanding what customers need from your solution, understanding how your products or services deliver the most desirable benefits (compared to the competition), and how your business (and solution) is unique and different from others.
Learn effective proposal writing strategies by using a RFP template (RFPs are a common buying method for corporate or government purchasing departments), or RFI examples (requests for information), or a RFQ template (request for quote).
Effectively writing a proposal for RFPs, RFQs, RFEIs, and more is a key sales skill; and an important strategy.
However, not all sales people are excellent writers.
So, consider outsourcing your proposal writing, at least until you become comfortable with the process and/or you have a contract writer develop a template specifically for your business.
Selling business to business or business to consumer is a challenge for all business owners. Building a sales focus for your business is hard work. Using sales contact management tools and/or sales leads software will make small business sales easier. The hard work is worth it: the rewards are an increase in sales, and revenue.
Successful selling experiences require using more than one technique.
Yes, face-to-face selling (particularly through relationship building) is often one of the more successful tactics.
But other techniques and strategies include building touch points and sharing information.
In other words, educating your customer or prospect on your products and services and also providing information that will help your customer in their business; making sure that your products or services are highly differentiated from competitors' offerings and communicating that differentiation effectively; and clearly understanding what your customers need in terms of value and delivering it.
Communicate with your customers and prospects in person; over the phone; through the mail (yes, letters, cards, coupons and order forms have high response rates if well designed and well executed); over the Internet through blogs, emails, social media, webinars, and your website; through print materials such as catalogues, coupon books, brochures, business cards, flyers and more.
Build your sales approach as a campaign:
Plan to make contact on a regular and frequent basis (not too frequently to the point of irritating customers or too infrequently to the point of being forgotten) and align your campaign with a strong identity program that is consistent with your brand.
Customer loyalty is built by giving value first in all aspects of your business. As a small business owner or manager, you need to commit to offering the best products and/or services.
Ensure that you regularly ask your customers for input and feedback (and both listen to it and act on it) to continuously improve your processes.
Your customers will respond to the value that you add, not only to the solution you propose but also to the relationship you build together.
What do customers want? Market research says that customers have an expectation of good quality, good price and good service; that is the minimum requirement for doing business today.
What more do you need to provide?
Knowledge. Reliability. Consistency. Communication. Discover what your customers value, and provide it.
Note: customers have unique and individual needs; they do not all value the same things. Make sure you clearly understand what each individual customer or market segment wants or needs.
In a business to business selling environment, it used to be that it would take between seven or eight touches to make a sale (or not, since not all contact means that a prospect will buy).
In this Internet age, it takes more touches.
Why? Because we have become both 'ad blind' and somewhat 'insensitive' to touches.
What this means to the small business owner is that your communication (and touches) need to be different from others (not imitations or copies of what everyone else is doing), it needs to be believable and sincere, and it needs to be memorable.
In a business to business sales environment, the selling cycle takes longer to close (and is often more complex) than ever before.
To effectively grow your sales, you need build a plan that will help you to optimize your efforts.
Focus your planning efforts on a lean sales process that: will solve your customer's problem or challenge; has value (i.e. reduces time and/or cost); provides not only what the customer wants but more than has been identified (over-delivering); and that provides a solution that offers convenience, high quality, a price that is acceptable, competitive and covers the business' costs, and exceptional service.