Chapter 14: How to do sales
In this Chapter we want you to focus on launching your sales and generating revenues. Most new business founders are passionate about their product or service and sell from that platform. Others are more product-centric but ‘shy’ about selling.
Know who you are, understand if there is a weakness there to be filled, and be sure to address this need. To succeed you must sell! Let’s start selling!
Know your sales presentation
Selling requires confidence and the way to acquire that is to know everything about your product or service. You are the expert. You should be able to describe your product or service in one or two sentences. If not, you don’t know it well enough. Keep going at this until you have the language down and you are entirely comfortable with your description of your product.
Here is an excellent exercise to start with: sit down with your friends and role-play with them – they are the prospective buyers and you are selling them. Write down your sales pitch and questions to ask them. At first you will likely feel awkward but each time you do this you will own the sales process a bit more. Write the process down and make changes each time. It’s ok to refer to your notes. The important thing is to understand what the buyers’ needs are and what solutions your service provides to them.
Tip from an Expert
“We actually can’t sell anything to anyone. We need to be there when people are ready to buy. This is why a systematic and ongoing sales and marketing process is critical.”
–Barry Moltz, Speaker, Author of 5 books and Radio Talk Host AM560
Listen to your customers
High-pressure selling is a thing of the past. Top sales people know it’s critical to understand what their customers need.
To do that, you ask questions – sincerely – and listen to your customers. When you understand their needs, you can then and only then, offer them an intelligent solution – a product or service that matches those needs exactly.
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Build a great sales team… train them to listen first
Features vs. benefits
To develop a solution that convinces customers to buy, you must offer them strong, relevant benefits.
Don’t just describe features – “this product is made from aluminum; it weighs just 200 lbs. and requires servicing once a year.”
Those may be impressive facts, but they don’t tell customers what the product will do for them.
Compare that with a benefits statement – “ Lightweight, aluminum construction reduces your energy costs. It minimizes corrosion, increasing service life. Annual servicing lowers your maintenance costs and minimizes downtime.”
Apple is famous for this. For example, with their iPod launch they labeled it as “1,000 songs in your pocket” rather than “It has a 5GB hard drive”.
Do you need a CRM system?
A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a software package that can help you plan, effortlessly follow-up and keep track of the conversion of sales leads into paying customers.
Our CRM eBook, available for free in our members’ area, includes detailed information on the leading CRM resources and platforms.
A CRM system has a database, which allows you to store prospects’ contact details and information at each stage of the sales process. Sales teams can plan follow-up calls, make promotional offers, record responses and track it to the end sale or close the account if a prospect no longer shows interest.
If you’re a startup or will only deal with a small number of prospects, you can manage the process with a simple excel spreadsheet available for free in our members’ area.
Whatever system you adopt, it’s important to use the information, not just record it. Ideally, you should reference it at least once per day to review status, plan the next steps and follow up to move your prospects forward towards a sale. Remember: every sales step must create a next step. If you leave a voicemail, then record the follow-up date and call again in 48 hours. If you send an email, schedule the follow-up. Every action must be recorded and have a follow-up step scheduled in your CRM calendar.
Did you know?
Over one trillion (that’s nine zeros) is spent annually on sales forces.
Selling in the modern business environment is, as we said earlier, about listening to prospects, understanding their needs and developing compelling, easy to grasp solutions.
Depending on your type of business, you could be selling:
- Over the counter at your store
- On the phone with prospects
- Meeting prospects at their office or at an event.
- Directly through your “shop” on your website
In each case, you must be prepared to ask questions, listen and develop an individual response. Simply reading a script over the phone or giving a stock reply won’t cut it.
Direct or indirect sales?
The answer to this question depends on how you plan to best deliver your service or product to your customers. If you target customers in a retail environment you will be directly selling them. If you intend to sell via a wholesale arrangement then it will be indirect. But even in the latter case you need to sell the wholesale organization.
If you are selling customers online, you can handle them directly though it will then depend on several factors including your price point; numbers of customers; gross margins; and whether your service can be easily explained without a salesperson to directly answer questions.
Depending on which describes your sales process best, you may also need to allocate time to:
- Meet or call potential customers to discuss their needs
- Process their orders
- Follow-up to increase sales
You can sell direct to customers in a specific market sector or in a defined geographical territory.
If your business deals with a large number of smaller customers, you may have to consider an indirect sales strategy:
- You sell your products to wholesalers or retailers
- They stock your products and sell to their customers
An indirect strategy helps you deal with smaller customers or reach a larger market without stretching your sales resources. However, you must effectively motivate your partners to sell your products.
Average cost of customer contact
Telephone calls = $33.11
Field calls = $276.48
Selling products from your website is another strategy for reaching a wider market and reducing your sales costs.
Brick & mortar stores can extend their reach and boost sales by offering some or all of their products online.
- Ecommerce offers customers a self-service store.
- Customers can shop at times convenient to them, without needing sales personnel to assist them.
- Competition is generally very high unless you’re in an unusual niche.
You can find more information on setting up ecommerce websites in Chapter 12 of this e-book.