#1 You prioritize delivery of ongoing projects over consistent sales habits then scramble to get new sales after the projects are delivered.
The jury’s out on sales and marketing being the most important component of a business and it is precisely for that reason most CEOs have a background in Sales. We’re not talking about tech companies, but yeah, if you’re talking about Tech Founders then sure. Trust us, those nerds are sales freaks!
In this 7 part series we are going to tell you what not to do and how not to sell.
There are a lot of books and courses and resources out there that can guide you on how to sell . There’s Jordan Belfort these days, Hubspot’s free courses, Steve Schiffman and then there’s a whole bunch of them on youtube.
However, whether or not you have time to read them or follow them or even if you already do and are a pro at sales, it helps to keep in mind what not to do. If those habits have crept in, make sure to weed them out asap or your sales will plunge; big time.
No, no, not scaring you at all. Just telling you the facts. Sales is a lot like sports. If you get into the wrong habits, you get the yips. Once you get the yips man, you’re pretty much screwed no matter what you try or how you try it because if you’re a small business owner, there may not be anyone above you or along side you to point out what you’re doing wrong.
That’s why it’s tough for small business owners without a background in sales to actually go and get ‘sales stuff’ done in addition to all the operational and administrative tasks they have to perform.
Sales is tricky but sales, if handled properly and executed with the right mindset is the most exciting part of owning a small business.
If you’re a small business owner or an Entrepreneur, you probably know that in addition to whatever your core skill set is, you need to double up as a sales rep, sales manager and VP.
The biggest thing people forget about selling is that it’s a science. It’s very simple but make no mistake, it is simple but hard.
As a business owner, if you’ve been in business for more than 5 years you probably know a lot about selling now even if you had no clue about it when you first started. In fact, even if you have worked in sales before, running your own business teaches you to look at sales in a whole different dimension.
If you’re a new business owner then it’s probably time you picked up your game and got serious about selling because it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you can’t bring in sales, your business won’t survive. Sales keeps businesses alive and all the businesses that close down, close down because they weren’t able to sell. It’s really that simple.
We’re not kidding. If you can drive sufficient amount of sales towards your business on a consistent basis, even if you don’t have the right project management or execution skills, you can build a strategic partnership with a company that has the technical chops, outsource and manage to stay in business for a long long time.
We’re sure you probably know at least 3 people who run multiple businesses doing just that.
We’re also sure you know extremely talented people who had to shut down their businesses because sales dipped in a rough patch and they didn’t know how to get them back up.
Then, you must also know people who knew nothing about sales but then they started a business and then learnt the trade ground up without any proper training and are killing it right now.
Here’s where most small business owners err early on:
- You focus on doing projects you get well and actually, since there aren’t many projects in the initial days, there’s a tendency to become a bit of perfectionist.
- After you’re done with the project, you start focusing on getting more sales again but that is actually a gamble because the market isn’t always the same and you still have fixed costs.
- Then you dig yourselves into a hole because new sales sometimes just don’t come in that fast and out of desperation, you under charge and over deliver hoping desperately for repeat business.
- This sucks big time because what is happening essentially, is that you’re moving your business into a downward spiral in terms of profits and efficiency. You’re consistently desperate for sales because you’re never regularly engaged in the process and every time you launch yourself into a crazy selling frenzy after a project has been delivered, you’re either quoting too high or too low to cover your fixed operational costs.
- This affects your ability to expand and get economies of scale. This affects your ability to grow very hard and you end up frustrated, tired, burnt out and desperate.
So what’s the solution?
The solution is to understand that the most important thing about effective selling is consistent selling. It’s a habit that you need to engage in on a consistent basis. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or if Reebok and Nike are both simultaneously your clients, the golden rule you need to understand as a small business is that you begin to lose your clients as soon as you get them.
Well yes! As a new business you really can’t be sure of the direction you will scale in and what clients will move with you in that direction. You can either follow the client’s lead and just go on servicing your biggest clients or you can follow your vision for your company and essentially what you got into business for.
Did you start your business to recreate the last job you were in? Being at the beck and call of a top client all the time? Servicing clients and basing your entire business around them?
If it’s a particular section or demographic that’s different. That means multiple customers or at least a few hundred ideal matches with your ideal client persona in a pool of a thousand or hundred thousand.
But when you’re just focused on retaining your top client, you’re killing your company and your dream in the process by giving away your bargaining power. This is why software companies come out with updates regardless of the number of customers still on an outdated version.
Hey! We’re not going to stop innovating just because you’re too lazy to upgrade. A good business shows the clients what to expect and want and experience not ‘tailor’ their processes and services around them.
The biggest example?
Nokia was once one of the biggest mobile brands out there until the advent of the smartphone. After the smartphone came along, the most popular choice for smartphone makers was to shift to an Android based OS.
Nokia for some weird reason, decide to pick Windows for the same and instead of throwing out Windows as its preferred OS when the combination evidently wasn’t working, it stuck with the OS well beyond the point of no return.
All Nokia had to do was shift to an Android based OS. With the amount of brand awareness and widescale adoption and trust it enjoyed in Asia and specifically South Asia, it was only a matter of time that loyal customers helped increase its sales.
Well, that didn’t happen and Microsoft bought Nokia and well, Nokia is pretty much history now.
Moral of the story?
Be in constant contact with the market at all times. No matter which stage your business is in, if taking a myopic view of your business can undo big companies, as a small business you could be wiped out inside three months. Which is basically what has happened to a lot of small businesses out there in this pandemic!
Selling should be a top priority for any small business owner at all times. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call prospects one hour a day.
- All you have to do is run a campaign every few days to have new leads flowing in.
- All you have to do is attend one conference or meetup every month.
- All you have to do is have one conversation every other day in a group on Linkedin or Facebook every other day.
- Your customer is very important but no customer is more important than your business. Make sure you don’t end up with 3 bosses instead of the one you left behind in your last job! Remain proactive and keep on reaching out and selling to new clients every single day. FIRST thing in the morning.
- If you can, hire someone good in a permanent presales role. It will help you out a lot. However do keep in mind, you will probably need to be the one to close a lot of these deals and that still requires discipline.
- If that’s not possible because of financial constraints, you can leverage the power of digital marketing, social media marketing and/or buying leads from a trustworthy source to ensure you keep the counter clicking every day. Sales is just a numbers game. Get that straight. Find your numbers and hit your numbers that’s it.
It’s really that simple. However a lot of small business owners don’t do this and end up paying a huge price for it in the long run.
Don’t be one of them!
Check out our Kindle Ebook written especially for CEOs & Founders.
You can also check out our Sales Coaching Courses.