As a small business owner, you have a lot of things to worry about. One of the most important things is sales. Sales is the lifeblood of any organization. You have to bring in revenue to grow the organization, keep the doors open, pay people and put some change in your pocket. Without sales, your business will fail.
So why is it that most businesses have a hard time with the most vital part of their organization? Many times it’s because they don’t know what they’re doing. Oftentimes, they have never received formal sales training. Typically, the entrepreneur is the one who started the organization. She may have had a really cool idea and saw some initial success, but when it came to selling, she wasn’t able to do it. So she hired someone to come in.
This new salesperson had a great personality. The salesperson may have been a cousin or a friend, a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or maybe it was her hairdresser’s brother. Whoever it was, they too were inexperienced when it comes to sales and simply works off the cuff. Take it from someone who was that friend hired because of an “outgoing personality.” It doesn’t work!
Here are three of the most common reasons why selling suffers in small businesses
1. They don’t know who to go after.
As a small business, many times the entrepreneur or salespeople takes whatever they can get. I saw this in a particular company I worked for. Many times the customer wasn’t our ideal customer. But since we needed the money, we bent over backward and said, “Yup, we can do that.” We were chasing the dollar as opposed to chasing and developing solutions for our ideal customers. Because of that, the company never grew. We remained stagnant and, eventually, the salespeople left.
A lot of people were fired and horrible things happened. I saw another company actually shut down because of that problem. As entrepreneurs, you’ve got to make sure your business is focused ONLY on your ideal customers. But how do you find the ideal customer to go after? If you’ve made one sale to that ideal customer, then maybe you can go ahead and evaluate them. Question them. Do an interview with them. Take them to lunch.
Really understand their business and why they elected to go with your company. The other thing you can do, if you don’t have a customer, is to look at your competitor’s customers. Learn why they chose your competitor. Why did they have a need in the first place? How much do they earn in revenue annually? How many employees do they have? Start developing a customer persona.
The more you can understand, the better you will be at crafting your ideal customer and making a message to approach them. Make sure you understand how they make money and how your product or service helps them to do so.
2. The fear of rejection holds them back.
The fear of rejection holds a lot of salespeople back in small to mid-sized companies. It’s just the fact that they have never done this before. They’re afraid that people are going to say no. They are worried the product is not going to be effective. They are concerned that maybe they’re not the greatest seller in the world. All of this holds them back.
The other thing that you need to understand about fear is that it is not real. Fear is usually something that we put in our minds that has never occurred. But because we tell ourselves about this fear so much, that it’s so true, we paint this picture in our minds and we start to believe it. We then start to act upon it. The fact is if you think people are going to reject you when you prospect, then that fear is going to cripple you. So our solution is to role play — to practice.
Get rid of the idea of fear. Get rid of the false ideas in your mind by actually doing it. Go out and get someone who you can practice with, somebody you can practice selling with. A colleague, your spouse, brother, sister, whoever. Just sit down with that person and do a role play of the situation you fear the most. Role playing is a fantastic way to increase confidence. The more you can practice, the less fear is going to be there.
3. They don’t have a process to convert sales.
The third reason small businesses sales suffer is because they don’t have an effective sales process. They don’t have a way of converting prospects into paying customers. They don’t have a way of finding people. As I mentioned earlier, many entrepreneurs find an outgoing person and say, “Hey, come be a salesperson for my organization.” That person comes in and, since the business has no process or real training, does whatever he thinks is best. Again this does NOT work. However, here is a breakdown of an effective process that can help your organization:
- Focus on getting the ideal customer.
- Develop an effective message that will speak to your ideal customer about true business challenges which you can solve.
- Make sure you are selling to the decision maker – the person who can say yes in the end. Find out if this person has the money or budget to buy from you. You’ve got to get all of that in your discovery.
- Before you go any further, once you figure all that out – they have the pain, they have the budget, they are the decision maker – you can move forward with the process and do a demonstration of your product or service.
- You then can create and present the proposal. Present it to them. Don’t just send it in an email. Work with them. Go through it with them. More than likely, if you did everything upfront, that deal’s going to close.
This is a very simple process and may sound too elementary. However, if you don’t follow it, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money. A typical salesperson will just go out and show a product. They demonstrate it. They don’t qualify the customer. And in the end, they have nothing to show for it. They will lose a lot of business. The key is to create an effective process.
As a small-business owner, sales are important to you. You can’t dodge that fact, or your business will not become successful. If you have someone else selling for you, do your best to make sure they succeed. Take time to make sure you and your salesperson develop an ideal customer, learn to overcome your fear, and develop a simple, effective process.
If you do this you will see success. I’ve worked with small businesses. I’ve been on management teams. I’ve been the “typical” salesperson. I’ve learned the things that make small businesses effective. I know how to make them become a lean, mean selling machine.
If you’d like to sit down and have a 30-minute session and bounce some ideas off of me, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to chat with you and assist in any way I’m able. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you. As always, I want you to go out and DO BIG THINGS!!