Most owners of small- to mid-sized businesses think of themselves as the CEOs or presidents of their companies.
The truth is, a better title is salesperson.
Unless business owners — and everyone working at companies — make sales their TOP priority, it’s almost impossible to succeed.
The good news: Even if you don’t have previous sales experience, it’s a skill everyone can learn.
Here are three tips that will help you become a selling pro while building and supporting a sales culture in your organization
1. Develop a sales process.
Start by documenting a step-by-step process that explains how everyone in your organization should interact with prospective clients at every stage of the purchasing cycle. Make sure it covers everything from initial marketing contacts to the final closing of deals.
Develop a process that can be used by everyone in the sales organization and all the people supporting them. Once released, it should be followed in a disciplined and rigorous way.
Here are some of the most common steps that are a part of many sales processes:
- Outreach. This includes any marketing and communication activities that make prospective clients aware of your business and the products and services it offers, including advertising, social media, seminars and webinars, conferences, trade shows, email campaigns and other similar outreach activities.
- First contact. This is any activity (phone call, form completion, online chat, etc.) that allows a prospect to request a meeting, sales presentation or product demonstration.
- Presentation or demonstration. This is an initial in-person or virtual meeting with the people who will actually use your products or services. The purpose is to explain the benefits, how they work, their features and why the buyer should do business with you.
- Stakeholder meetings. Most initial presentations or product demonstrations are followed-up by meetings with additional stakeholders and decision makers. These sessions are typically more about value and return on investment rather than on features and how things work.
- Procurement meetings. Many companies require a call with a procurement team to go over the financial security of your business, legal issues, how you’ll work together and other details of a potential business relationship.
- Follow-up communications. You should plan for phone calls, emails, chats, answers to common questions and other communications that could result from meetings and other interactions.
- Finalist presentation. Many organizations require one last meeting when they’ve narrowed their list of possible suppliers. This presentation generally provides a recap of the information you’ve already shared, with a special focus on why you’re better than your competitors.
- Deal close. Many businesses forget to include the actual “sale” in their sales process. However, this is often where things go wrong. It’s important to consider every possible issue that could come up during the contract process to help ensure all deals close smoothly.
Not every sale will require every step of your process and some may need more. Thinking through every step will help you — and everyone on your team — become better salespeople.
2. Write an elevator pitch.
If you got on an elevator with a prospective client and had less than a minute to interest them in your business, what would you say?
That’s the purpose of an elevator speech. It’s a short and concise way to explain the benefits of your company to potential buyers.
Unfortunately, most business owners and the people who work for them are unable to do this. They’re so involved in the details of their everyday work, they can’t see the forest for the trees. An elevator speech is a big picture view of what you do and why you’re better, not a detailed description of what it is and how you do it.
You and your sales team need a tight, focused value proposition that you can express quickly and simply any place, any time. Take time to write, edit, and practice your pitch. Try it out with friends, family members and people in your target audience to see how it resonates.
Once you’re comfortable with it, test it out with real prospects. Continue to work on it until it’s absolutely clear to people in your target audience why they MUST do business with you.
3. Think and act like a salesperson.
You — and everyone in your organization — must stay focused on sales-oriented tasks like building relationships, closing deals and delivering top-notch client experiences. This builds a sales-centered culture that will lead to success.
Everything every employee does should support driving sales and increasing revenue. Any other activities are wasteful and must be eliminated.
This will shift your thinking from being a president, CEO, founder, development expert — or employee — to someone who is responsible for sales.
Selling needs to be at the center of everything that happens at your company. If you get more comfortable and experienced at selling, your business will grow much faster. Even when a business grows to the point of having an independent sales team, it’s still a good idea for the owner — and everyone else — to stay involved with day-to-day selling. It keeps you aware of what resonates with your client base — and more importantly, what does not.