Here’s the thing about being a business owner or an entrepreneur: regardless of what you think you do for a living, you have to be in the business of making sales first and foremost. This is something that most people have a problem with.
Making sales and putting yourself out there is not something many people are comfortable with, but for those of us who are at the helm of our organisations, we simply have no choice but to cultivate the skills that will bring in the business.
This may seem daunting, and if you don’t have a plan or system to support you through this process, it will be.
Here are 4 top tips that if followed will help you master the art of sales as an entrepreneur or SME:
In planning your sales approach, the first most crucial thing you can do is develop a ‘potentials list’. Explore every avenue and develop a solid list of prospective clients. Go through your contacts list on your cell, review your network on LinkedIn, consider your suppliers or service providers – hold nothing back – scour your networks and develop a solid list of potential clients. This is the master list you will work from to build a pipeline of potential new clients for your business.
Reach out. This is where most non-salespeople start to resist the sales process. If you’re not ready to pick up the phone and make a call to test the waters yet, then develop a professional email, unpacking what you can do for new clients and send that off. You can follow these emails up with some free advice and tips that will demonstrate your ability and skills in your field. Once you’ve established a conversation on email, you can send out WhatsApp messages reminding them of your interest in working with them, or reach out on LinkedIn and share interesting articles and work you’ve done for other clients.
“Sales is about demonstrating your competence, adding value and equipping your potential clients with the tools they’d need to feel comfortable in choosing you as their service provider.”
Don’t tell, ASK. Often people are so eager to land new business that they just shoot off lists of things that they could do for their new clients. This can be overwhelming to clients. Instead of telling clients what you could do for them, ask ‘what is your biggest pain point when it comes to X’ and let them unpack their challenges for you. Once you understand where their gaps are, you can present your solutions in direct response to what they have self-identified as gaps. This is a far more effective method to ensure you’re taking on the right clients and will be able to deliver the value you’re promising in a meaningful way.
Never stop selling. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or how fully booked you are; there is a momentum that is created through the process of continual business development. If you stop at any point, that momentum ceases and you’re going to have to start from the beginning to get going again in the event your business slows down, and by then, you often don’t have the luxury of time. Keep positioning your business, keep adding value in your network, keep approaching new clients about what their possible pain points are – this is one of the most valuable things you can do for the longevity of your business.
Not everyone was born a salesperson, but, anyone can sell. Sales is not about ramming your product or service down a customer’s throat – it’s about communicating your value and your ability to solve problems in a way that resonates with customers. It’s about building relationships.
Jacqueline Raw is a Sales and Marketing strategist. She is the founder of Ycagel, a Marketing consulting and services firm, and SkillX, an online skills incubator for entrepreneurs and professionals.