Sales 101 for Small Businesses
Many small business owners are experts within their field but still struggle with selling their products and services. It can be difficult to pitch a product or service, especially when that product or service represents your own work and your livelihood. Yet small businesses do need to keep selling. Sometimes that also requires refreshing sales techniques. Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding the Sales Cycle
From lead generation to commitment, understanding your sales cycle is important. A structured sales cycle is an effective sales cycle. The more well-tuned your sales cycle is, the less work you’ll ultimately need to do.
Every company’s sales cycle looks different. But most of them have the following parts:
- Finding leads.
- Contacting leads.
- Determining whether the lead is ready to commit.
- Presenting your case to the lead.
- Addressing any challenges.
- Making the sale.
- Retaining the customer and getting additional leads.
Once you’ve developed your sales cycle, you’ll be able to generate leads and push them through the appropriate stages. By understanding the cycle better, you’ll have a better understanding of where your leads are in their journey, and what stage needs to happen next.
Many customer relationship management suites will track the sales cycle for you. Instead of having to manage it manually, you can update the status of each lead, and then focus on leads in specific stages. CRM solutions are beneficial for small businesses in particular, as it makes it easier for small businesses to manage all their leads.
Creating the Perfect Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a brief discussion of what your product is and why it’s valuable. An elevator pitch should be as short as possible and should hit all of the major points, telling someone why they should be interested in your company, and what your company can do for them. Think about how much time you have with each customer. You may only have a minute or less to convince them that your company is well-suited to their needs.
Practice your elevator pitch frequently, as it will be used throughout your selling and your networking. When attending networking events, most people meet dozens of other companies. You need to be able to distinguish yourself through a clever and concise pitch. After practicing your pitch with friends and family, ask them if there are any questions that they have or any issues they have with the pitch.
Writing a Unique Selling Proposition
Why should someone work with your business? During the middle stages of the sales cycles, many clients are looking at a few different solutions. They may know what they want at this point, but they don’t know where to get it. They will be comparing similar products and services and looking for the product that distinguishes itself from the others.
To that end, craft a unique selling proposition: a series of things that your business does best, and a reason why clients should go with you rather than the competition. This can be something as simple as superior customer care or more complex, such as advanced, cutting-edge technology that can’t be acquired anywhere else. Either way, make sure you can describe your unique selling proposition easily.
Overcoming Sales Objections
Once you’ve explained your product to someone, they will naturally have some sales objections. They may not be ready to commit to a purchase. They may want to continue exploring alternatives. Or they may just fear that your company’s solution won’t solve all their problems, and they may need some reassurance. This is when you need to overcome sales objections.
Overcoming sales objections doesn’t mean that you have to be pushy. You can overcome sales objectives by:
- Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Ask yourself why they’re hesitating and what would make you feel more secure, if you were them. Empathy will go a long way towards reassuring customers.
- Address their issues directly. Customers want to work with businesses whoa re open and transparent. If you believe that their objections are worth considering, talk to them about them and work with them to resolve the issues.
- Listen to what they need. Ask your prospective customers what would make them feel better about committing to your product ro service. They may have their own ideas regarding what they need from you.
To overcome objections, you need to understand your own products well. You need to be confident and authoritative, as well as willing to work with your potential customers. This is a skill that develops over time.
Even when a customer has decided to work with you, you may find yourself becoming enmeshed in negotiations. Many customers may want your product but may want it at a lower price, and negotiating can also be in your best interest. If you’re able to negotiate for a longer contact, for instance, it may be worth it to lower the initial price.
Negotiating successfully is both a skill and a talent. Some people are natural negotiators. Other people struggle to negotiate even in as a consumer, let alone as a business owner. But ultimately, negotiating is about understanding the value of your product, understanding the value of your customer, and not wavering beyond a certain point. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it isn’t a good deal.
Sales is both a technical field and a social field. To sell to your customers, you need to have in-depth knowledge of your product and industry, as well as the social skills to truly connect with your customers. Like many skills, however ,sales skills will grow over time and with practice. By visiting sales seminars, practicing your selling techniques, and regularly analyzing your sales performance, you can improve your company’s lead generation.